Dave Ault writes:
Sitting here this morning pondering the upcoming Solidworks convention and the Dassault Systemes obsession with the cloud, I have a list of unanswered questions. Personally, I see nothing but downsides to this whole cloud thing and would really like to stop it dead in its tracks. It is my opinion that most CAD users have not really thought much about what could be coming down the pike to them soon; the trendy bunch can't seem to get past how cool this will all be -- without thinking of practical answers for just how is all this wonderful stuff really supposed to work.
[I added my comments in square brackets and italics. - Ralph Grabowski.]
- Is there a guaranteed minimum throughput for data exchange, irrespective of my ISP, so that I can benefit from the promised increased capabilities? [We will always be limited by the speed provided by the ISP, which is remarkable slow here in Canada. Of greater concern to me are low monthly throughput caps, typically 30GB here in Canada.]
- If a user wishes to use a different service pack of the software for any reason, does he have a choice? Or is it a single version only, dependent upon the cloud company's selection?
- Is the user guaranteed security, backed with compensation for any damages resulting from breaches due to having to go online? Is the user guaranteed compensation for downtime due to Web issues? [Cloud vendors typically have a service guarantee that provides credits against downtime.]
- How can the cloud do anything for me, when CAD is still basically a one-core program and multicores don't matter much, compared with basic single-core processor speed? [Some CAD programs use multi-threading when updating the display.]
- Does the cloud offer multicore capabilities that you are unwilling to sell me with standalone seats?
- Rendering is one of the few areas suitable to multicore environments. Will it be guaranteed to be faster than what my workstation can do, considering ISP problems and data throughput rates?
- Chinese communists demand access to foreign and domestic company computers as a condition of doing business there. How will my cloud intellectual property rights be protected?
- If I like version 5 rather than 6, and I continue to pay maintenance can I still use v5? [This is my primary concern: forced upgrades.]
- Will be I allowed to dictate how new versions are rolled out at my company, or do I just show up to a done deal, for better or worse?
- Will there be a cloud "beta" version of upcoming rollouts with which we can train staff, before the new version is implemented? [Google has shown that cloud-based betas are possible, where users have the option to use the new version, or stay with the old one.]
- Will stand-alone seats continue to be available, along with the customary steady improvements we pay for and rightly expect, for as long as we wish? [Some CAD vendors will abandon stand-alone seats as a cost-saving measure (just like some have abandoned printed docs), while others will continue to provide them as a competitive advantage.]
- How much of the yearly maintenance fees we pay (for good geometry solving and reliable programs) is being diverted to cloud creation, of which we have no interest?
- Why are you implementing the cloud, when basic geometry creation still has big problems? Are these issues being fixed for the cloud, or will we be stuck still with problems, and now the cloud will bring an additional layer of problems to compound our woes? [The cloud itself does not solve geometry problems better, although SolidWorks' change to Catia may make a difference.]
- If I stop subscribing, can I download all my intellectual property for my own purposes? [Current cloud-based services usually allow customers to retrieve (download) their data.]
- If someone hacks the server farm, will I (a) be notified of this, and what was compromised and (b) will I be compensated for all resultant damages? [Notified, perhaps; compensated, probably not.]
- If I download my files for archive, will I be able to use them after creation on the cloud, or will I be prohibited the use of my own creations when I stop paying? [My guess is that CAD vendors will try to prevent you from using your data off-line.]
- How do you intend to charge for this? Where is the proof you will save me money? I will still have to maintain an internal set of workstations and a network, so where are all the big savings in equipment, since I still have to buy what I need to access the cloud? [CAD vendors remain mum on the cost and the cost savings. Makes one wonder, doesn't it?]
- How will I be compensated for the added ISP cost, since many ISPs are starting to put data caps in place, with added fees based on levels of usage? Will the increased ISP costs be offset by decreased cloud costs on a sliding scale, since all this cloud stuff is supposed to save me money? [Reminds me of the sky-high electrical bills we will pay when switch to electric cars.]
- Who really owns my created data if it resides on your server and I stop paying? Do you hold it hostage for a one-time payout to retrieve my data, or for the resumption of monthly payments? [CAD vendors are already holding customers hostage over subscription payments, and so I see this as an opportunity for CAD vendors to further their rent-seeking.]
- Since part of what is being touted here is "CAD creation anywhere," will I be compensated for increased costs if I begin to use cell phone services and WiFi hotspots to conduct business? What are my total costs, and demonstrate to me how the cloud will save me money over using my laptop and standalone seat and open new doors for user convenience? (Specifically, I am thinking of iPad netbook types who presumably want to do CAD on cell phone infrastructure on grossly underpowered equipment.)
- Intel is coming out with a new series of CPUs with astounding benchmarks, and priced very cheaply. Workstations combined with the new Nvidia cards are going to put amazing power on my desktop for under $2,000. This is a one time cost that be good for three or more years. How will you guarantee to me savings by use of the cloud over what I can do for myself? [I don't know how business income tax works in the USA, but here in Canada the cloud cost would be a 100% tax deduction, like a lease expense, whereas the computer cost goes onto a depreciation schedule, 50% the first year.]
- Does the cloud come with field techs to keep this stuff going and implemented correctly? Or do I still have to retain IT staff? Basically, I am asking how will I save money and time with the cloud in this area over what I do now. [Cloud-based services are supposed to eliminate support staff, which we know isn't true.]
- How will you handle a bad version rollout when it creates problems for your customers? [Probably just say, "Oops," like when Microsoft screws up Hotmail updates to millions of customers.]
- I live in an area where there will be no great ISP service for some time. Will I be forced to look for other software, because you are going to phase out standalone seats? If you are not going to phase out standalone seats, will you give me a guarantee of this for a specific time period? [To see how inaccessible the Internet is, go on a trip anywhere in Canada or USA with just an Apple iTouch, and then try to stay in touch.]
- Will you stop development of standalone permanent seats, and direct development money to the cloud, forcing users to migrate to the cloud paradigm? [Some CAD vendors undoubtably will.]
- Am I going to be able to even create a file if I have no access to the Internet for whatever reason? And if so, to what degree?
- How will you handle data corruption via transmissions over ISPs? [This happens surprisingly often.]
- Let's say that one of your translators fails, and I have a critical job to finish. Can I choose which version of the translator I wish to use? Or is it whatever you care to serve up that day, and too bad if it does not work?
- How are you going to convince my customers -- whom I have signed confidentiality agreements -- with that this cloud will be safe to use? [Banks have managed to get some of their customers to trust the cloud, but then money is easily replaceable; data and IP are not. Once released, IP can never be made private again.]
- How will you compensate me for the loss of customers whose confidentiality agreements preclude any use of the Web? Or are you prepared to write me off as not part of the market you are interested in any more? [CAD vendors will probably be prepared to lose some intransigent customers.]
- How are you going to integrate third-party aps into all this? [This is the question Deelip Menezes keeps asking.]
- Since the cloud is to deliver reliable, cost-effective services to my company, how will you cover me during outages? [It will be like the bad old days of the mainframe, where we sat around for an indeterminate amount of time, waiting for the computing center to fix the problem.]
- Cyber warfare is now a fact of life. How will you guarantee me service better than an internal implementation (which does not go online during cyber attacks or DOS attacks)?
- How will backups of my data be maintained, and just who all has access to this proprietary information? [Cloud data storage is not a problem anymore; the more important question is, can the customer retrieve it for use on a different CAD system?]
- How will you guarantee that one of your employees will not steal my data and sell it to the highest bidder? [This guarantee cannot be given, since employee theft has already occurred at least twice at CAD vendors.]
- Will I be able to audit your process to see if it meets my required level of security, or do I just have to take your word on this?
- How are you going to make all these companies (whose infrastructure you don't own or control) give guaranteed minimum levels of service to your customers. Server farms are a minor part of the equation here to me and the bigger problem will be reliable ISP's and throughput rates. When I talk about infrastructure it means from my workstation to the farm and back and all that's in between. [If the third parties, like Amazon, want to keep the CAD vendor's cloud business, then they will have to do a good job. The problem may come when CAD vendors eventually look for the lowest-cost provider, rather than the best one.]
- Many companies wait for a while before implementing new versions, and prefer to do this after it has been out for a while and after service packs have been issued to correct the problems that are always there with new versions. How will you allow for this to continue to happen, or will you even allow this practice to continue? [See the recent AVG anti-virus update that ruined lots of computers.]
- Is it true that you have no answers for many of these questions, and that you are scrambling around in chaos trying to see if it is even possible to do this cloud thing, and that is why you don't answers any of these questions? [It is a new field for CAD vendors, although not for the general computing industry; see salesforce.com. However, CAD drawings place a special strain on cloud infrastructure, and that's what needs to be experimented with.]
- Do you have a successful implementation of the cloud to demonstrate to me, and to convince me of its use over existing infrastructure conditions? Or have you only made it work in controlled laboratory like conditions? [Autodesk Labs shows some examples of cloud use.]
Hi, there are some good questions in this list and certainly from a CATIA/ENOVIA perspective these are the points that a sales force will be able to answer when an On the Cloud product will be on the market or people are in the WW beta program quite soon.
I am sure that people will appreciate that some of the points are out of the control of the PLM provider but most of the key points are absolutly at the heart of the service that we are implementing.
Will the On the Cloud solution be the answer for all users? I am sure the answer is no but the value and flexibility it brings to many scenarios can not be ignored either.
I look forward to sharing the more formal answers with you when the services are announced.
Posted by: Andy Reilly | Jan 20, 2011 at 02:27 PM
This is part of what gripes me so much about this whole cloud thing. I don't understand how anyone can promise a service and say I will love it, whatever it is because we still don't know, and then in the same breath say that how reliably it will be able to work at the customers end is beyond their control. Do you not see the disconnect here between words and reality?
A first real good step towards influencing people to like what you propose to offer would be to start speaking honestly and openly about what it is you want us to buy into and just stop with all the damage control and PR babble. Fiction wins elections but facts win customers.
Posted by: Dave Ault | Jan 20, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I think the concern is the assumption is that it is all or nothing. This is not the case. You will be able to work off the cloud and then plug in as desired. You will be able to have a LAN cloud or a hosted cloud on the internet. DS has committed development until at least 2015 and support until 2030 of its V5 product.
Eventhough Facebook has come along, it doesn't mean we have stopped using email and chat, but it has completely changed the way we interact digitally. This is the idea of moving product development to the cloud. To extend the capabilities not throw out existing ones.
Like all things new and old there are challenges and to me the biggest with the cloud that is now apparent is the concern of security. I am sure this issue will be adressed in many forms, either through compensation, new third party encryption software solutions, etc.
The reality is that Product Development is heading to the cloud, but it does not mean you have move there. Some people don't have facebook accounts. There are even a few that don't have email accounts. If the market is there someone will find a way to exploit it. So there is very little need to be concern on this shift to the cloud because you will not have to go, but it will also limit the opportunities and advancement has to offer.
Posted by: Mike Ray | Jan 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM
Some companies product development and developers may be heading to the cloud but the real question for the Dassault guys is will the users follow? At this time even in postings about SW and the cloud for instance on the SW forums it is running about 4 [ https://forum.solidworks.com/message/201431#201431 ] to 1 against this whole cloud thing. Employees of Dassault, resellers and VAR's love it because they have to and users despise it because they see nothing of benefit to them.
Do you have any actual knowledge of Dassaults intents or policies here you can publically reveal or are you sworn to corporate secrecy?
Posted by: Dave Ault | Jan 21, 2011 at 12:04 PM
Dave your questions raise many issues competent vendor management should have long ago assessed and be able to answer fully an truthfully but: the truth is these guys simply don’t know or are being strongly advised to remain firmly non-committal for fear of action which will be taken at a latter date for the non delivery/compliance to their promises.
Much of what I have done – raising licencing/contractual issues - provides a clear indication of CAD vendor managements stance in relation to answering questions in relation to the issues surrounding the Cloud.
In particular I point to your 36th questions: “Will I be able to audit your process to see if it meets my required level of security, or do I just have to take your word on this?”
Experience suggests I believe I can answer this question; and the answer is a resounding NO you will not be auditing the vendor or their ‘suppliers’. YES ‘trust us’ is the CAD vendors (stupidly naive) expectation!
We already know CAD vendors are removing data from customers’ computers and we also know those same vendors do NOT allow their customers to see what data, the CAD vendor, is removing from the customers’ business systems. In one case, when a CAD vendor was asked directly, to allow the opportunity to view the removed data the answer was NO and the indication was that the CAD vendor believed it was their property; therefore giving them both the right to access the customers business computers remotely and remove any data they saw fit to take. This is not fiction or a guess it is fact and CAD users have been very silly to allow this activity to start and continue as it now provides the precedence CAD vendors will use as a defense.
A further simple example: is my private and, then public, request to Solidworks management to discuss a provision in the Draftsight EULA. NONE of my approaches gained any response; even though we know the emails were received by senior management. Failure to respond as they have demonstrates a very real threat to those entrusting their business to these and other CAD vendors. With no ability to discuss contractual issues already demonstrated, as this instance does, can only mean dealing in the Cloud, with these same guys – and similar, is simply NOT a safe business decision and should not be considered or entered into!
We have, quite quickly, moved in a very dangerous direction and, now more than ever, there exists a reason for the creation of a ‘body’ users who could and would be prepared to act in unison on these issues. My effort has shown questions can be asked, warnings posted and wrong exposed; but acting as a single voice in opposition to CAD vendors’ past, present and future unconscionable conduct gains little traction – it needs a joint effort.
There are ways for CAD vendors to demonstrate their ‘Cloud’ is not to be feared and should be considered……….
Posted by: R. Paul Waddington | Jan 23, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Thank you for your list of cloud questions.
We are in Cloud Invent are definitely looking to the clouds and see there the natural place for our CAD. The Dave Ault’s list is very helpful for us to define our Nimbo CAD product line. Thank you once more.
May be we have no clear answers to all these 40 questions yet, but some answers we sure to have:
“4. How can the cloud do anything for me, when CAD is still basically a one-core program and multi-cores don't matter much, compared with basic single-core processor speed?”
This is one of the critical point for us. Our Cheetah Geometric Kernel is perfectly suited for parallel computing – it means that you can use on 100% the multi-core capabilities of your local client, but you have much more power with cloud computing.
”5. Does the cloud offer multi-core capabilities that you are unwilling to sell me with standalone seats?”
This is actually the same question. Leading CAD vendors are not “unwilling” to suggest multi-core capabilities. They, simply have ho parametric Solver that can use parallelization. As for Cloud Invent- we have it, and this is our main secret weapon.
” 11. Will stand-alone seats continue to be available?...”
Our Nimbo CAD will be ready to work 100% offline – so, this is “stand-alone seat”.
”13. Why are you implementing the cloud, when basic geometry creation still has big problems? Are these issues being fixed for the cloud, or will we be stuck still with problems, and now the cloud will bring an additional layer of problems to compound our woes?”
For us the answer to this question is easy. We are starting from the scratch and we see the cloud as just a better place to live. But cloud for us is just a one of the pillars of our CAD Revolution. Our main goal is to dramatically improve basic geometric creation (see more information on our site).
”26. Am I going to be able to even create a file if I have no access to the Internet for whatever reason? And if so, to what degree?”
Our client CAD applications will be based on the Silverlight. Though they are working inside web-browser, they can work easily offline (without any Internet). You’ll have full functionality, just a little bit slower (or much slower for complex models).
”31. How are you going to integrate third-party aps into all this?”
Our Nimbo CAD will be 100% open platform. This is our principal position. Any third-party vendor can easily integrate with it.
”39. Is it true that you have no answers for many of these questions?...”
Yes, it is true. Many of these 40 questions have no clear answers for us yet. But we are working on it. In any case the future is for the cloud!
”40. Do you have a successful implementation of the cloud to demonstrate to me?...”
Not yet. When we’ll have something to demonstrate in the cloud, it will be available to everybody who is interested in…
Posted by: Nick Sidorenko | Apr 02, 2011 at 12:19 PM