PDM has always been an essential tool for engineers. Still, many engineers and manufacturers have long been unable to implement this tool because of the four barriers that drive up the total cost of ownership outlined below:
- IT Resource Constraints: Most IT teams have the experience to manage the internal infrastructure for an essential engineering tool like SOLIDWORKS or PDM. However, they rarely have the knowledge, expertise, or resources to dedicate time to administering or optimizing the solution for remote access. These are the common burdens and constraints that an IT department may add to the total cost of ownership for the SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM solution.
- PDM Implementation and Data Migration: Many engineering and manufacturing companies struggle with the initial implementation of SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM and the data migration to a new vault. Many lack written document control procedures to manage their data or have spent years storing data on local uncontrolled systems. This data mismanagement often results in disparate data sources, duplicate files, and missing references that complicate and add substantial time to the product design process leaving engineering teams confused and frustrated.
- Hardware, Software, and SQL Licensing: The costs for various PDM components such as server infrastructure, SOLIDWORKS licensing, and SQL licensing create cost barriers. In cases where SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional is needed, the PDM license cost is not the only barrier that prevents adoption. In recent years changes to Microsoft SQL licensing requires SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional customers to purchase a SQL license that Microsoft previously included with the solution at no charge. This change raised the cost for SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional even higher.
- SOLIDWORKS Administrative Burdens: Once they set up the PDM solution, many companies do not have the time or resources to play the SOLIDWORKS administrator role. This role of managing add-ins, installation planning, yearly upgrades, ongoing user support, and vault management across a small or large group of engineers can be a significant resource commitment. Typically the administration duties fall to a member of the engineering team so the IT team can focus on the comprehensive duties of managing company infrastructure. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, time equals money, and the time required from the IT or Engineering team to manage the software and infrastructure adds to the total cost of ownership for SOLIDWORKS PDM.
When you combine these barriers, the industry average for initial SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM setup and implementation can reach $5,000. Ongoing maintenance and administrative costs often average $1,000 per month. Hence, the solution can cost over $17,000 in the first twelve months and $12,000 per year in subsequent years.
Solving the Barriers to SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM Total Cost of Ownership
Now that we’ve defined the many challenges and barriers let’s talk about ways to solve the problem and implement a solution at a reasonable cost.
- IT Resource Constraints: Ten years ago (in conjunction with our partner and sister company EpiGrid), Converge offered managed cloud services to engineering companies and manufacturers. This vertical IT offering helps drive alignment between engineering and IT teams by helping each department have a mutual understanding of their SOLIDWORKS environment. Together, Converge and EpiGrid remove the burden of learning SOLIDWORKS from the IT team so they can focus on bigger issues that impact the entire organization, not just the engineering team.
- PDM Implementation and Data Migration: Converge and EpiGrid developed a fully documented and standardized implementation process to streamline the PDM configuration and launch known as our Axis PDM Vault solution. This process allowed Converge to get engineering and manufacturing companies up and running with full-service SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM in as little as two weeks. IT teams that work with Converge and EpiGrid don’t have to worry about learning the details of SOLIDWORKS or PDM and implementing a solution they don’t commonly use. Letting a cloud and SOLIDWORKS expert do the work for you can improve your time to recognize the value and is a significant upgrade for small businesses using a shared drive approach.
- Hardware, Software, and SQL Licensing: Converge and EpiGrid have spent 10+ years doing the hard work to address PDM hardware and IT infrastructure From the beginning, licensing has always been a major component of the cost of ownership of PDM. In recent years licensing costs have increased on every component from operating systems, antivirus, monitoring, and backup. In recent years even the PDM PRO licenses have gotten more expensive, pushing many customers to SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard as a means of adopting PDM and avoiding the PDM Professional license cost. On top of these costs, no component has added more to the cost of PDM ownership than SQL. Originally the cost of a PDM license included a SQL license for PDM PRO customers. In recent years the SQL license was decoupled from the PDM PRO licenses, and Microsoft added new requirements such as Software Assurance, resulting in a significant cost increase. Since the start of the changes to SQL licensing some five years ago, we have worked endlessly to find a solution to offer our customers a more affordable price. Today, EpiGrid customers benefit from our SQL PaaS (Platform as a Service) solution. This solution ensures compliance and gives customers access to unlimited users for SQL Standard or SQL Enterprise at the lowest available cost on the market.
- SOLIDWORKS Administrative Burdens: Leveraging EpiGrid’s strategic access to data centers, hosting solutions, network connectivity, and security protocols, Converge provided SOLIDWORKS administration services to help rid engineering and manufacturing companies of the ongoing administrative burdens of SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM. This administrative relief allows them to focus on bigger issues that impact productivity for the entire company.
EpiGrid and Converge have spent ten years perfecting a streamlined approach to implementing SOLIDWORKS Cloud PDM as a Service, but we’re not done innovating just yet. We realize that many engineering and manufacturing companies are still hesitant to move to the cloud. In many cases paying an industry standard of $5,000+ for setup combined with other resource constraints push the total cost of ownership beyond what their budget can afford. Engineering cloud providers like Converge and EpiGrid still have more work to do to help clients overcome the total cost of ownership barriers to adopting cloud services. Stay tuned for more updates on engineering cloud services built by engineers for engineers.