<< Part 1
In order to get a good understanding of exactly what it is that Dassault Systemes and Spatial are trying to achieve here, let’s take a close look at the following slides I grabbed from Keith’s presentation. This first slide shows how Dassault Systemes operates with its own CAA Development Community.
Dassault Systemes partners get access to its V6 technology through its various product portfolios. Spatial has a similar setup with the only difference that it does not have end user products since it is strictly a component vendor. Now this is what happens when you keep both setups side by side and Dassault Systemes shares its CGM technology along with the some V6 components to Spatial to be licensed to the Spatial Development Community.
Now the huge Spatial Development Community (which includes yours truly) can get access to not just ACIS and InterOp but also to the CGM modeling kernel from Dassault Systemes along with parts of its V6 technology. Exactly how much of V6 will be made available is unclear right now. So the Spatial Development Community can now create powerful desktop applications using components from Spatial and Dassault Systemes. But it does not end there.
Thanks to this sharing of Cloud technology by Dassault Systemes, the Spatial Development Community will also be able to move their applications to the Cloud and still have the choice of using ACIS or CGM. For its part Spatial will continue to develop ACIS and InterOp. So current Spatial customers need not worry about the future of their investments in these tried and tested components. It is important to note, and I cannot stress his enough, that Spatial is NOT moving from the Desktop to the Cloud. Keith made is quite clear that they will always have both options. John Alpine, VP of R&D shared some pretty high-end technical stuff with me which showed that a Spatial customer can develop his application for the desktop for today and yet have it set up in a way that if and when he decides to take it to the Cloud in the future, he will be able to do so very easily. There will no need to rewrite it from scratch.
I believe this is huge and I will explain why. My small company is a partner with just about every CAD vendor on this planet. Check out the logos on this page. One very important logo is missing – that of Dassault Systemes. This is because the cost of entry into Dassault Systemes’ partner program is just too large for small CAD software companies like mine, which makes it impossible for us to get access to their juicy technologies. In fact, I got access to the authentic CATIA V5 libraries from Dassault Systemes only because I licensed them through Spatial. So all this is music to my ears. Spatial has a large number of customers, both large and small, spread all across the world. All these customers will now get access to Dassault’s Systemes’ CGM modeling kernel, V6 technology and last but certainly not the least, its Cloud technology as well.
I asked Keith the all important question. “So will Dassault Systemes have a final say in exactly which companies you can license their technology to?“. He replied, “No, we have been given the liberty to license their V5 libraries to whoever we think fit. This will not be any different. Of course, Dassault Systemes may want to keep some of their proprietary technologies for themselves. But whatever they share with us, we will continue to operate as we have been all these years.”
I think I can bear testimony to that. In all these years Dassault Systemes has refused to let SolidWorks read and write CATIA part and assemblies (see “A Sick Dassault Systemes Joke“). Yet they “allowed” Spatial to license the CATIA V5 libraries to SYCODE so that we would develop CATIA file import and export add-ins for SolidWorks (see “How To Open CATIA V4 and V5 Files in SolidWorks” and “How to Open and Save CATIA files in AutoCAD and SolidWorks?“). Now whether Dassault Systemes will allow Siemens PLM to license CGM for Solid Edge and NX in appreciation for letting SolidWorks use their Parasolid modeling kernel for all these years, I don’t know. But I don’t think that is the point. The point here, as I see it, is not to restrict its Cloud vision to itself and its children. Dassault Systemes has some real fancy stuff going on and it is opening itself up to the world and letting other companies make use of its technologies. And that is really the big news here. To see the huge French company that many consider paranoid (myself included) open itself up this way is truly refreshing.
I strongly believe that CAD and PLM on the Cloud or something like it is the future. By opening itself up I believe Dassault Systemes just offered the whole CAD/PLM world a nice little shortcut to get there. I believe this day, 29th June 2010, will go down in history as the day when Dassault Systemes announced its decision to make a mammoth change in its business model.
In the next part we will see the ACIS and CGM modeling kernels actually doing 3D modeling in the Cloud. This is pretty similar to the SolidWorks cloud demo that was shown to us at SolidWorks World 2010.
Part 3 >>