SolidWorks World 2010 (Day 2) – A Discussion with Jeff Ray

My one on one interview with SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray is tomorrow. But today I managed to get myself included in a group interview that Jeff was doing with a few Indian journalists. I tried to get something out of Jeff about the new stuff that was shown to us in the General Session this morning. But he was tight lipped. Here are a few questions I asked Jeff:

Deelip: After the direct modeling demo you mentioned that your development team received help from Dassault Systemes. Does this mean that the new stuff that you have been working on uses the V6 technology from Dassault Systemes? I ask because I am curious to know whether SolidWorks will be moving away from the Parasolid modeling kernel.
Jeff: What happens under the hood does not really matter to the customer. A SolidWorks user is really not bothered about which modeling kernel we use. We let the user worry about solving his problems and we worry about how we can help him do it.

Deelip: I found the Direct Modeling particularly interesting because all along you have maintained that SolidWorks would not have it and now suddenly we see this.
Jeff: I still say that Direct Modeling is not the right approach. Our competition is forcing their customers to choose between one method or the other. Furthermore, they say that if you select one method, you loose the history and features. If you choose the other, then you cannot push and puss stuff around. That is not the right way to go about doing it. I don’t know what you want to call this and frankly, it does not matter. As far as I am concerned users simply want to use different methods to model depending on what they are doing. We are simply giving him the tools to do that.

Deelip: I guess Autodesk is doing it the right way then with Inventor Fusion.
Jeff: Well, we will have to see.

Deelip: Regarding the SolidWorks that we saw running on the Mac today, was that a native Mac application?
Jeff: Nothing is running on the Mac. Everything is on the cloud. And speaking of which, we are not going to force our customers to move to SolidWorks on the cloud. We will offer them both options and let them decide which works best for them. We will continue to develop and enhance the desktop version of SolidWorks.

Deelip: Any broad time frame by which these technologies will become available?
Jeff: They will be available when they are ready. I don’t know when that will be. I do not want to push my team and then have them deliver something half baked. I have pushed them enough already. Another thing. All the new stuff you saw this morning has been working for years. This is not something that we got working last month or last week. If this stuff was not good enough, we wouldn’t have shown it to you.

Deelip: Is SolidWorks interested in offering a solution to the low end MCAD market? Maybe something along the lines of Inventor LT in the $1000 range.
Jeff: No. But here is the thing. When SolidWorks runs in the cloud, it will really not matter whether you are running a $1000 software or a $5000 software. When you want to light up your house you dont go ahead and buy a power plant.
You simply plug-in and pay as you go for exactly what you need. SolidWorks users will be able to do exactly that.

Deelip: In your opinion are the lines blurring between the mid range and high end MCAD systems.
Jeff: Actually, it depends upon the customer. For example, in the case of Terrafugia which I mentioned in the general session today, SolidWorks was good enough to do everything except the stuff that involved composites. That part was achieved by using CATIA. So for them maybe the line between mid range and high end is quite visible. But for others that may not be the case.

Jeff mentioned that on Wednesday we will be shown a demo of SolidWorks communicating with Enovia V6 in the cloud. We will also be shown the new stuff that will be part of SolidWorks 2011.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Again another interesting interview. The comment that stood out for me was:

    “No. But here is the thing. When SolidWorks runs in the cloud, it will really not matter whether you are running a $1000 software or a $5000 software. When you want to light up your house you dont go ahead and buy a power plant. You simply plug-in and pay as you go for exactly what you need. SolidWorks users will be able to do exactly that.”

    Which very much implies that the cloud based stuff will be on a pay as you go basis. This I find interesting. It will be very interesting to see how they achieve this.

    Will SolidCloudWorks be charged globally at the same rates? If not why not? Will it be offered on a contract subscription like a mobile phone contract? How can companies budget if usage is pay as you go? Will Dassault be teaming up with telecoms providers to provide enhanced infrastructure to customers?

    I think all this is great as a technology but I do have concerns about the practical application. How does the cloud system handle SolidWorks Add Ons? Does it? I can see that say SolidWorks Simulation could be built in but what about other solutions like NEIWorks (the NASTRAN based FEA add on that is a fraction of the price of the SolidWorks one)?

    But the pressing question is whilst I can see the benefits of runnign via the net the actual on the ground practicalities are often different. In my office I have an 8MB ADSL connection and 1MB upload. Pretty good. I have much the same at home. Yet when I am on the road I am lucky if I can get 200K in many places. Some customer sites I have zero connection and cannot use their network as it is closed down.

    I use web conferencing all the time. Yet I know that even in the quiet times there is always a lag, sometimes the connection drops, sometimes it slows to a crawl. And this IS using the industry big boys infrastructure.

    Having said all that it looks interesting, and if even a fraction of this ends up in the SolidWorks desktop app then most users will be happy I suspect.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Dave Ault

    Three thoughts come to my mind RE this “Solidcloudworks”.

    Companies have been searching for locked in cash flow from their software. So number one this would do away with those who prefer to use say V2008 for 5 years if they see no justification for updating to newer versions by forcing them to pay every time I assume they wish to use the “cloud” software. If they ever do eliminate permanent seats I am sure total cost of ownership will rise as you will have to pay by the hour to even learn the stuff.

    Number two is that SWX along with all other companies would like to eliminate piracy and a forced login to pay as you go would pretty well do this. No regard here for legitimate users as we get into endless problems with poor connectivity for whatever reason. SWX can't guarantee my good connection after all can they.

    Number three is just who owns the data you generate and store on their system and if you stop paying do you get to retrieve it for your own use before you go away if you decide to go away? And if SWX loses your data for any reason from hard drive loss to corporate espionage are they going to make you whole after the fact and cover all damages they were responsible for?

    This does not even touch the problems of the additional headaches of unreliable connections shuting you down that you are exposed to by leaving your own servers or workstations. I see a lot of companies that would love to con us into this cloud junk and the upside is all theirs, not the users.

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