In his CAD industry predictions for 2018 shared with, Onshape CEO Jon Hirschtick recently declared that this year would “finally be the tipping point for cloud-based CAD.”

“Most engineers will be moving the bulk of their work online over the next 5 to 10 years,” he predicted. “The most forward-thinking engineers have already made this shift and will eventually watch their competitors play catch up.”

What went unsaid is the game of “catch up” being played by other CAD vendors. The cover of the latest issue of “COMPASS,” the official magazine of SOLIDWORKS’ parent company, Dassault Systèmes, shows a young woman in a party dress gazing toward a cloud-filled horizon.

The latest issue of “COMPASS,” the thought leadership magazine of Dassault Systèmes, ushers in the age of cloud CAD.

So what is the cloud woman staring at? Or more to the point, what is she turning her back to? Evidently, she’s saying goodbye to the old CAD technology of the past.

The immediate future is clear: SOLIDWORKS users now face a major, non-optional move to cloud CAD.

A quick glance at Dassault Systèmes’ social media feed reinforces that message:

Dassault Systèmes declares that it’s time to embrace the cloud, and we couldn’t agree more.

Dassault Systèmes’ eight reasons to move to the cloud should sound very familiar to longtime readers of this blog. Here are some links to our past writings on these “new” themes:

  1. AGNOSTIC – Cloud CAD works across Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows and Linux – and with phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. You are no longer tied to a single high-performance workstation at the office. CAD for Macs? You bet.
  2. APPLICATIONS AND UPDATES – A cloud architecture frees companies from the time-draining IT tasks of maintaining hardware and software updates. Every cloud CAD user in the world is always on the latest software version and receives automatic updates.
  3. COLLABORATION – Teams can instantly communicate about design changes and get real-time updates on their colleagues’ progress. The ability to let multiple engineers simultaneously work on the same design means that teams can work together in parallel versus working serially.
  4. COST MANAGEMENT – Maintaining company servers, software and hardware 24/7 is extremely expensive. Many CFOs prefer Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions because they are considered annual operating expenses (OPEX) vs. capital expenditures (CAPEX). Purchasing a CAD system upfront is considered a capital investment, which ties up money and depreciates over time.
  5. MOBILITY – Design team members using cloud CAD can access their work on multiple devices anywhere, anytime. You can now create and edit your designs on your phone or tablet, carrying your CAD system with you wherever you go.
  6. SCALABILITY – Cloud computing allows companies to immediately increase or decrease their server use based on real-time demand. You only pay for what you use. In addition to eliminating the need to buy and manage an IT infrastructure, Onshape also offers instant CAD deployment for design teams starting a new project or bringing on new hires. Adding new team members is as simple as entering their email addresses. No need to deal with the delays of provisioning new computers or dealing with CAD licenses and installs.
  7. SECURITY – Secure cloud services providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) have far more resources to improve cybersecurity than any one company. But equally important for protecting your intellectual property, using a cloud architecture ensures there is only one master copy of your work for partners to access. There are no uncontrolled file copies floating around in the wild.
  8. SIMPLICITY – The cloud removes many of the typical roadblocks in the design and manufacturing process, allowing companies to deliver their services and products faster and easier. Examples of how Onshape makes CAD less stressful are too many to mention in one sentence, but a good place to start is how painless it is to share your designs with partners. This company credits Onshape’s Sharing feature with saving them 5 weeks on a major design project with a tight deadline. One click of a button replaces kludgy email attachments and file transfers.

Cloud delivery is table stakes for modern software in every industry, and CAD is no exception. However, just putting the same old CAD in the cloud does not necessarily make it better or deliver real value to design teams.

The real challenge is offering modern CAD that offers better parametric modeling, better data management, and better team workflow in addition to the standard benefits of cloud. This requires challenging the norm of design processes plagued with gridlock and re-imagining how designers and engineers should interact with their CAD system. Onshape’s fresh Parametric Modeling 2.0 approach, for example, has fundamentally improved some of the core CAD features engineers depend on every day and has eliminated many of the hassles they have tolerated for too long.

If you are a SOLIDWORKS user, there’s no longer any choice. At some point relatively soon, you will be moving your CAD work to the cloud. So it makes sense to start planning now to make the move from old CAD to modern CAD.

Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS have announced that they agree with Onshape that file-based CAD needs to be put out to pasture. Whenever Dassault Systèmes ships out their new product, you should compare it to Onshape and choose the CAD system that’s best for your company. You’ll want to evaluate product functions, performance, stability, cost, partner apps, customer support, etc.

Right now, however, Onshape is the only production-proven choice for modern CAD and it’s already being used by thousands of companies. Invest in your company’s future and sign up for an Onshape Professional Trial today!

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