Is Cloud Based CAD Really Beneficial for Your Firm?

Jul 1, 2015 -- Cloud technology is being perceived as the next big revolution in the field of IT and its adoption is increasing significantly. As a matter of fact, cloud is already here and is changing every industry. The reduction in cost of ownership and ability to access data from anywhere, anytime are some of the prominent drivers that lead towards the adoption of cloud technology.

However, when it comes to product designing tools such as CAD and CAE, the growth in adoption is extremely slow despite ample awareness. A recent research from Business Advantage titled “ CAD Trends 2015”, suggests the same. Although, AEC is expected to increase the usage of cloud technology in the coming years, the manufacturing sector is unlikely to adapt to this change.

The prime benefits of utilizing cloud based CAD services as per the report are higher mobility, ease of updating the software, cost reduction and increased storage capacity. However, its usage for CAD applications is relatively very low, and even in the coming 3-4 years, it is likely to rise up by 10 to 20% only. Amidst such forecasts, how likely is cloud based CAD beneficial for engineering firms? The answer is not as per the expectations.

Reasons to prefer desktop CAD applications for design processes are many; manufacturers have been skeptical about choosing cloud based CAD applications due to concerns about intellectual property rights. Being a design sensitive task, it is quite expected that nobody would prefer to upload their critical design data on remote computers, especially during new product development.

Manufacturers are as such hesitant to put any such information on cloud due to hacking risks. Also, internet speed is one of the major issues that hold back users from adopting cloud services for CAD applications. Although mobility is one the features of cloud technology, the speed and performance is entirely based on the internet connectivity. This could be a major issue when using CAD tools at remote sites.

A situation can also be imagined where companies can increase the price of cloud services almost anytime once they have enough customer base. Such consequences can force users to pay annual fees or otherwise prevent the usage of the services almost immediately. Desktop based software on the other hand would not have such issues; one can be sure about the data security since the information resides within the company’s well-monitored premises. Since desktop based application does not rely on internet, data visualization and operations can be smoother.

The opinions on the problem with cloud do not however directly imply that the technology is of no use for design firms. It however does raise questions on choosing the right option out of the two that best suits the organization’s requirement.

Cloud can be a great tool for AEC industry as access to CAD data is required at sites and showcasing the design to customers. It is also the reason why this industry has started using cloud services and is clearly reflected in the 2015 CAD Trends report. However, for core manufacturing sector, cloud might not be that much beneficial as it would only serve the purpose of accessing the design information remotely and nothing more than that.

What are your thoughts on cloud based CAD? Do you think is it really beneficial or is it something that CAD managers would likely avoid using?

About Author: Gaurang Trivedi is Engineering consultant at TrueCADD. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.

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