The Deafening Silence From SolidWorks On The Cloud

After making a tremendous amount of noise about running SolidWorks on the Cloud and even showing it on stage at SolidWorks World 2010 in January this year, the company decided to stay absolutely silent on the topic for the next half a year. Not a word. This led to all kinds of speculations from all kinds of people, myself included. The vague statements coming out from senior SolidWorks executives only added fuel to fire and scared the crap out of many SolidWorks customers.

People like CAD managers and administrators are paid by companies to look ahead and plan for the future. For these people, the direction that a particular vendor is headed is important as it guides their decisions. A CAD user’s job is to concentrate on the task at hand and meet deadlines. People above them have other far reaching things to think about.

On the other hand, partners like myself, need to plan things even earlier than users. We need to get our infrastructure and intellectual property in place so that when there is a change in technology or the release of a new one, customers are not left in the lurch.

I was hoping that SolidWorks would break its silence on the Cloud at yesterday’s SolidWorks 2011 launch press event. Ralph Grabowski sent me this note on Facebook, “SW refuses to give us any details. Just more ‘Enovia will be the backbone’ and similar stuff.” I am now beginning to question the wisdom of announcing SolidWorks on the Cloud and then not following it up with more encouraging information or responding to questions posed by its own customers and partners.

Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles didn’t come to SolidWorks World 2010 to drink free beer. He came to announce SolidWorks on the Cloud. His presence on stage was highlighted as an indicator of how important the Cloud was for SolidWorks and Dassault Systemes as a whole. I was in the audience when SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray said on stage, “We have got this working. I wouldn’t have shown it to you otherwise.

If the whole point of the deafening silence that followed the Cloud announcement at SolidWorks World 2010 was to create confusion and cast doubts on the future of SolidWorks, then the company achieved that with flying colors. If the point was to just get people talking about SolidWorks on the Cloud then they achieved that objective as well. Just that there are so many good things to talk about SolidWorks, quite frankly I don’t see the point in going through pains looking for negative press.

  • Dave Ault

    Well it is my belief that in spite of what Mr. Ray said when they let the cloud out of controlled laboratory like test environments, that I presume he based his rosy statements on last year, it failed. The tech is just not there to be secure and to be beneficial to end users over what end users can do for themselves and so SW sits there along with the French guys with egg on their faces. This cloud thing is the scheme they had to differentiate their product lines from everyone else but instead it is becoming the Albatross around their necks as it sucks up developement cash from everything else that should have come first. So here they are stating the cloud is cool, direct editing is not and we can’t be bothered with, as I gather from Matt’s post’s, improvement of our products in significant and meaningfull ways our customers want.
    This silence signifies in my opinion a huge dog fight for the direction Dassault should take for future developement within the company and is a clear sign that the average user can expect to be ignored for a long time till the dust settles.
    Dassault corporate management philosophy is just as strange as that silly little Facebook game they promoted some time back and I don’t think it will turn around any time soon.

  • Ralph Grabowski

    Jeff Ray told some of us over lunch that their non-Windows development is located in a “skunkworks” about ten miles from SolidWorks offices. Their board gave the developers a year to come up with something — not the three years they wanted. Today, even “just” a year is a long time.

    The irony is that SolidWorks was a trailblazer with Windows (considered not a cad platform in the early 1990s) and now they seem as stuck on Windows as other CAD vendors back then were on DOS 386 and Unix.

  • Matt

    I agree, the cloud announcement and follow up was poorly calculated. Users and industry peers make strange teammates, but I think together they demonstrated to someone at DS that this is a direction that isn’t going to be profitable for full-blown CAD. Ancillary apps may succeed in the cloud in the near future, but full blown CAD will not. I think they are being more prudent by backing off the message to limit the cloud expectations to SW Connect for now, and use that as an indicator of cloud data acceptance. Cloud data storage is one thing. Applications on the cloud are something else.