Really Big News From Dassault Systemes And Spatial – Part 1

In April I wrote this in a piece titled “Really Big News“:

“Last evening at the COFES 2010 reception a senior executive of a well known software company let me in on some absolutely amazing news that I never thought I would hear in my lifetime. This involves the name of one of the largest CAD/PLM software companies and marks a great shift in their business model, especially the way they look at their competition. Sometime in the near future I am going to be allowed to write about this.”

Today I am finally able to open my trap. So here it is. Dassault Systemes is giving its CGM modeling kernel (the technology that powers CATIA V6) to Spatial so that it can license it to other CAD vendors and application developers. Licensing CGM is just the beginning. Dassault Systemes is also licensing its CAD in the Cloud technology through Spatial to whoever wishes to move their CAD applications to the Cloud.

This news was announced today at the Spatial European Forum in Frankfurt, Germany, which I am attending. Last week I was given a briefing on this announcement by Spatial CEO Keith Mountain, VP of R&D John Alpine and Director of Marketing Howie Markson. The presentation was titled “Spatial Vision, Strategy, New Products” although I believe “Spatial” could easily have been replaced by “Dassault Systemes“, its parent company. What follows is Spatial’s view on how and why this has happened.

Spatial has been in business for 24 years. In all this time it has been doing more or less the same thing – developing and licensing components to software vendors. Besides, the components have been the same as well – ACIS (modeling kernel) and InterOp (CAD file translators). All of Spatial’s technologies are designed to work on the desktop and so their distribution and financial models have been tied to it. Spatial claims that its customers have been asking for new ways to do business. Stuff like being able to develop applications hosted on central servers accessed by thin clients or browsers – basically Cloud based applications.

Keith went on the explain the laundry list of advantages of CAD on the Cloud, but then stopped half way, I guess after realizing who he was talking to. šŸ˜‰ But he did make the point that his customers were specifically asking for two things: (1) new pricing and packaging models, and (2) new ways to compete with the market share holders. Spatial came to the conclusion that the Cloud could offer both these things to its customers but realized that it did not have that kind of technology. So a year and half ago Spatial began talking to its parent Dassault Systemes about its Cloud technology that it had begun developing along with SolidWorks three years ago. Keith described the conversations as “something new” because Dassault Systemes had left Spatial to run its own business and both companies had not spoken aboutĀ  sharing technology before. I found this particular bit hard to digest because my company licenses Dassault Systemes’ CATIA V5 data exchange libraries through Spatial. Anyways, Spatial began inquiring which Cloud technologies it could get access to from its parent and the two companies started sharing technology.

In the next part I will explain in some level of detail exactly what these technologies are.

Part 2 >>