How happy does your CAD system make you?

For product designers, it greatly depends on the software architecture. According to findings from “The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2023-2024” report, teams using cloud-native CAD tools are more satisfied than teams relying on hybrid-cloud or desktop systems.

The independent annual survey report conducted by the research firm Isurus asked over 1,400 engineering and manufacturing professionals worldwide about their experience and levels of satisfaction with computer-aided design (CAD) and product data management (PDM) software on the market today.

DOWNLOAD REPORT: The State of Hardware Development & Hardware Design 2023-2024

The 2023-2024 report uncovers an upward trend in the adoption of cloud tools and examines a wave of CAD systems touting cloud capabilities. However, amongst mainstream CAD systems, not all cloud is the same, nor do they bring the same level of satisfaction. 

CAD and PDM: Cloud-Native, Hybrid-Cloud, or Desktop?

graphic of types of cloud software

Before diving into the pros and cons of different CAD systems, let’s make clear the differences: It’s all about software architecture.

Desktop CAD is software installed and operated directly on a user’s desktop computer rather than accessed through a web browser. Data is stored and managed in files, typically through an add-on PDM system.

Hybrid-Cloud CAD can run online and be accessed through a browser but creates and stores data in files. Files are managed by uploading and downloading them to the cloud. Hybrid-cloud CAD works more as cloud storage than a fully operating system on the cloud. 

Cloud-Native CAD has a software architecture that runs online and stores data securely in a distributed cloud database. It ensures high availability, scalability, simultaneous or asynchronous access from any device, optimized reliability, and the ability to roll back to any design state. Only Onshape has a cloud-native architecture.

What do these definitions have to do with product development processes? When we look at the impact on workflow, it could mean the difference between a happy, cohesive team and a team struggling to get on the same page.

INFOGRAPHIC: Do you know how global product design teams actually spend their time?

Why Are Cloud-Native CAD and PDM Users Happier?

The challenges faced by product designers in traditional environments can be frustrating at the least and devastating at the worst.

The blog “120 CAD Issues No One Wants to Deal With” covers the issues engineers and designers experience with desktop CAD – from lost files to software updates interrupting work. And while cloud-hybrid systems fix some of these challenges, issues with file management still persist.

READ: 25 Warning Signs That You Are NOT Using a Cloud-Native Platform

With cloud-native CAD, all 120 issues are eliminated in one fell swoop. How? In short, Onshape – the only cloud-native CAD on the market – is just built different.

A cloud-native architecture allows users to access CAD functions from any device with an internet browser, view the latest progress of a design without the barrier of a PDM vault, and see design data from any point in the design process because of an extensive audit trial.

By breaking free from files found in hybrid-cloud and desktop-based systems, CAD can become so much more – and product designers are taking notice. 

8 Ways Cloud-Native CAD and PDM Systems Excel

According to the report, cloud-native Onshape users are more satisfied than hybrid-cloud or desktop-based products because…

CAD crashes are a thing of the past: Onshape's cloud-native CAD and PDM solution eliminates crashes by storing data in microversions after every operation, ensuring that even in the event of a brief internet disconnection, data is preserved and users can easily roll back to any state of the design.

stats from the report
(Source: The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2023-2024 Report)

Cloud solutions offer enhanced reliability: Cloud-native platforms such as Onshape substantially minimize downtime, delivering a CAD and PDM platform with 99.99% uptime, automatic data saving, and eliminating administrative chores required by other products. This reliability contrasts with the potential crash and data loss issue found in file-based desktop and hybrid-cloud systems.

Collaboration is seamless and multi-user friendly: Onshape excels in collaboration by being a multi-user platform built for team cooperation. Unlike desktop solutions, it allows simultaneous access by multiple users, fostering real-time collaboration and avoiding issues of miscommunication, errors, and frustration caused by outdated snapshots of evolving designs.

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Accessibility is improved with cloud solutions: Cloud solutions, such as Onshape, enhance accessibility by eliminating geographical and device limitations. In contrast to file-based desktop systems, Onshape provides secure and direct access to design data from any device at any time, ensuring teams can work together seamlessly, even from different locations.

IT Administration is user-friendly and streamlined: Onshape's CAD and PDM platform is a managed service with hassle-free administration, offering 24/7 availability, seamless updates without service interruption, and automatic backups. The architecture minimizes the burden of administrative tasks, making it the easiest to administer among the compared CAD platforms.

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Security is robust in cloud-native architectures: Cloud-native architectures, such as Onshape's, enhance data security by providing controlled access through link sharing and other secure measures. Onshape's architecture ensures data protection, access control, and threat detection, surpassing the security measures of other products especially those relying on traditional file-based systems.

Customer service is prompt and collaborative in cloud solutions: Cloud solutions like Onshape provide responsive and collaborative customer service, allowing support teams to swiftly resolve issues by accessing users' shared workspaces (with permission) in real time. This contrasts with traditional CAD products, where reporting bugs and getting resolutions can be time-consuming and challenging.

Newer cloud products are recognized for better price and value: Product design teams, sensitive to price-value returns, benefit from the cloud's introduction of subscription pricing, allowing access to professional CAD and PDM without upfront costs. 

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The Path to Happiness for Product Designers

In the dynamic realm of CAD systems, the software architecture you choose is a pivotal factor shaping the satisfaction and success of your product design team. 

The insights gleaned from “The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2023-2024” report underscore the supremacy of cloud-native CAD and PDM over hybrid-cloud and desktop-based systems, affirming unparalleled user satisfaction.

Embark on the path to happiness for your product designers. The comprehensive report unveils the latest trends in CAD adoption, explores the nuances of cloud solutions, and provides invaluable insights to empower your team in the ever-evolving world of product development.

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