Report: Cloud-based CAD Gaining Customers

When it comes to CAD and other computer-aided engineering tools available in the cloud, there’s a mismatch in definitions and expectations between customers and vendors, which has caused a delay in CAD-in-the-cloud adoption. But CAD customers are quickly moving toward accepting the new method of design delivery.

That’s according to Jon Peddie Research and Business Advantage Group. The two consultancies joined to issue a report on CAD in the Cloud, which presents a 2017 view on trends in the CAD-in-the-cloud market. The report is based on a custom designed survey, fielded worldwide, together with other insights and additional industry data.

The researchers say more work can be done to change attitudes towards the delivery of CAD tools that reside in the cloud. At many engineering companies, those at the executive level must be convinced of the process. Executives often opt for the predictability of subscriptions. Of the companies surveyed, around 10 percent of those in both manufacturing and architecture and building have already implemented the cloud-based tools.

In terms of adoption by industry, manufacturers are slightly ahead when it comes to adoption with 7 percent of those surveyed currently implementing cloud-based CAD, compared to 5 percent of those in the architecture and building engineering realm.

When it comes to those evaluating the tools, as well as implementing them or planning the implement them, “the sectors are pretty evenly distributed, with the manufacturing vertical coming out slightly ahead,” according to Jon Peddie, principal at Jon Peddie Research.

Similarly there are differences by geography. Current usage and consideration is similar across regions, but Asian-Pacific (APAC) companies are significantly more likely than those in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) or the Americas to be currently in a phase of implementation, according to the report.

In general, EMEA companies seem more reluctant to evaluate cloud-based CAD than North America or APAC. For example, 44 percent of EMEA companies are most likely to have basic awareness of the tools, with no further investigation or consideration having taken place, compared to Americas at 27 percent and and APAC countries, at 24 percent.

“Many vendors have not spelled out their commitment to cloud based work-flows even though they may have more quietly let it be known to long term customers, major accounts, and analysts,” according to Peddie.

Founders of the three-year-old CAD company Onshape Inc. say their company recently released the first fully cloud-based three-dimensional design software.

“We also looked at attitudes of Autodesk users compared to nonAutodesk users and we have found Autodesk users to be more open to the cloud. Autodesk communicated with its customers about the advantages of CAD in the cloud and has rolled out various cloud-based benefits to its customers on maintenance and now subscription plans,” he adds.

Other companies, notably Onshape, Dassault Systemes, and PTC, include CAD-in-the-cloud offerings and also make desktop software. Onshape differs from these in that Onshape software exists fully in the cloud and can be used by multiple users in real time—engineers don’t pull CAD files from a cloud-based server as exists in other methods, said Jon Hirschtick, Onshape founder.

Though the popularity of delivering applications via the cloud is growing, the decision for engineering companies to move pertinent applications to the cloud isn’t a no-brainer, said Andrew Sroka, chief executive officer at Fischer International Systems Corp., which helps companies manage identities for on-premise and cloud-based applications said.

Comparing hosted and on-premises applications isn’t apples-to-apples, which makes it difficult to arrive at a bottom-line savings, he said.

To determine whether cloud-based or on-premise software is the better choice, engineering companies need to look at the part of the equation most valuable to the enterprise—whether its flexibility or risk-management or the possible benefits of housing a solution on-site–and determine which method will better meet their engineering needs, Sroka said.

Issues of total cost of ownership and return on investment with cloud-based systems are generally murky because companies want to see how cloud applications compare to traditional on-site infrastructure, he said.

“But there’s so many intangibles wrapped up in the cloud that it makes it hard to put calculations on it,” he added.

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