What the Power of the Cloud Brings to Engineering and CAD
I get it – you’ve heard it ALL when it comes to the Cloud. I have been preaching the benefits of the Cloud for nearly ten years in my journey as a Technology Evangelist, and I have seen eye rolling turn into light bulbs every step of the way. While the messaging may feel redundant, a true realization of all that the Cloud brings to the table is far from fully realized by most of us in product design, development and engineering. I absolutely believe that if we “really” understood the extent of the power of the Cloud, we would all be singing and dancing on the Cloud bandwagon—especially when it comes to CAD.
So, what exactly is this mysterious “Cloud” that we all speak of? In most cases, we’re talking about the 80 million super-servers located in data centers around the world that we leverage via an internet connection. Of course, we could have an internal or private Cloud—a set of internal company servers—for those of us working in highly confidential industries with stringent mandatory security protocols. But typically when we think of the “Cloud,” we are thinking public servers. I don’t need to manage or maintain these pricey servers, worry about disk clean-up, viruses or hardware storage—those are somebody else’s problem. The role of these Cloud providers is to keep my data safe, secure and sound (for a fee, of course).
That doesn’t sound so magical. Where does this power you speak of come into play?
The Cloud delivers powerful benefits that fall into four categories for Engineering and CAD: Collaboration, Mobility, Data Management and Infinite Computing. Let’s take a look at each of these game changers.
I wrote an in-depth article back in June about the benefits and advantages of collaboration as it relates to Product Design and Development. At the risk of repeating myself, we need to realize that the days of working in silos are over. Never has the mantra “two heads are better than one” been truer than it is today. The Cloud makes it easy to collaborate with as many team members as you want, anywhere in the world, at any time. Now you can easily share your designs and CAD models with other team members and make collective modifications in real time.
I find this even more valuable when it comes to solving design problems. Multiple sources of input and creative ideas can often conquer a design issue in a fraction of the time, and lead to greater levels of innovation.
Collaboration on the Cloud also lends itself to better project management, concurrent engineering and increased cross-pollination between departments. The list of advantages is long.
Of course, COVID-19 has forced us to embrace Cloud Collaboration more than ever—hopefully we won’t forget its effectiveness after we return to the office.
Net-net: a great collaboration platform can dramatically shorten the product development timeline.
With your valuable CAD data stored up in the Cloud, you can access it anytime and from anywhere! Do you need to discuss a design change from your sunny beach “home office?” That’s no problem as long as you have an internet connection. Pull up your CAD model and mark it up on your tablet if you like. When COVID-19 hit, there were so many issues with working from home versus the office where many engineers’ CAD data was safely tucked away. If you had your CAD data stored on the Cloud, it would have been much easier to adapt as we all transitioned to that home office. Taking it one step further, choosing a CAD-connected product like 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS, and you can access your CAD program from the workstation of your choice, as well.
Note: CAD data can be tricky with all of its associated parts and assemblies, so you don’t want to simply sign up for Dropbox! You’re going to want a solution that fully understands the complexities of all things CAD, such as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
You would be amazed at the number of problems that are eliminated when there is one central depository for everyone’s CAD data. A low-stress CAD data management program on the Cloud with check-in/out, that speaks “SOLIDWORKS,” and requires zero additional investment in hardware or the usual IT nightmare is a God-send. You don’t want to waste time working on an out-of-date file or searching for that pesky part you know you’ve already created. Plus, it’s so nice to have the ability to backtrack and see what changes were made, and by whom! You also don’t need to devise or manage some intricate naming convention and pray that everyone follows it to avoid disaster.
In addition, while we all might get excited when the next release of SOLIDWORKS comes out, none of us are excited about the installation process. As you move to all things Cloud. However, you will experience lightweight “updates” throughout the year as opposed to one heavy release annually. That also means you’ll have access to the cool features before everyone else does—bragging rights for sure!
3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS covers all the above bases and for nearly the same price as stand-alone SOLIDWORKS. My apologies if I sound sales-y, but what’s not to love about that?
I actually believe this is the most powerful benefit of all, and yet it may be the least recognized. No longer are your complex engineering activities limited due to the capabilities of your workstation. When it comes to undertakings such as simulation, the sky is the limit!
You won’t be taxing your own computer with these complex compute-intensive tasks; instead, you will turn that job over to one (or more) of those Cloud super-servers. What used to take 24 hours on your own workstation could easily take less than 20 minutes when handed over to the Cloud. You will get results back in a fraction of the time, allowing you to make highly educated decisions faster regarding your product design.
You will be more apt to try things you never dreamed of before, pushing the boundaries of engineering and product development. This also opens the door to an increase in innovation, ideally leading to better products. I believe we are only just beginning to see what infinite computing can truly bring to the CAD and engineering table.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention 3DCreator, a total Cloud CAD solution. If you are brave and want to go full-on Cloud, take a look at 3DCreator—though I do realize it is hard to let go of your beloved SOLIDWORKS.
It not an outlandish prediction to say that someday all desktop products will probably become extinct, and eventually all of our software will be accessed via the Cloud. Why not get a jump-start and, at the very least, connect your CAD data to the Cloud with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform? All of the benefits mentioned above could be yours—you would be living the CAD dream.
I hope that I’ve managed to convert some of your eye-rolls to light bulbs—if so, my job is done!