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February 28, 2005
Autodesk Acquiring COMPASS Systems To Further Extend Data Management Capabilities
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Autodesk Acquiring COMPASS Systems To Further Extend Data Management Capabilities

Autodesk, Inc. announced an agreement to acquire all assets of COMPASS systems GmbH, a European-based developer of the COMPASS family of data management solutions, for 13 million Euros. COMPASS is a leader in the European data management market, and COMPASS customers include more than 20,000 users in 1,800 manufacturing companies.

Autodesk plans to continue offering the COMPASS solution in key European markets and supporting COMPASS customers, while leveraging COMPASS systems' experience in its continuing development of Autodesk's data management solution, featuring Autodesk Productstream.

Through the combination of Autodesk and COMPASS expertise, technology and partners, Autodesk will better enable customers to accelerate information exchange and more efficiently create, manage and share design data. Customers will benefit from a comprehensive data management solution that makes the production and delivery of products more timely and cost efficient.

The acquisition, which is expected to close in March of 2005, will allow Autodesk to more quickly expand its data management solution, and deliver on its commitment to provide a comprehensive data management solution for small- and medium-size manufacturers.

"This is a clear indicator of our commitment to be a major player in the Product Lifecycle Management market," said Robert Kross, vice president of Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions Division. "By combining our collective experience in the data management market with our strength in product design, we are extremely well positioned to extend the value of design information across the manufacturing organization and supply chain."

Karl Weber, president of COMPASS systems, added "We are very pleased to join forces with a market leader like Autodesk. Our focus on engineering-driven data management and the clear synergies between our channels and products make this acquisition logical for our companies as well as beneficial to our customers."

The Autodesk data management solution is built to extend the value driven by Autodesk's design software, including Autodesk Inventor Series, the world's best-selling 3D design software. Autodesk's data management solution allows customers to speed design cycles and maintain control of crucial design data as it moves through the product lifecycle. Unlike traditional Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) installations that demand extensive, costly customization and process re-engineering, the Autodesk data management solution allows manufacturers to quickly and cost effectively reap many of the same benefits of PLM. With Autodesk, manufacturers have the flexibility to add components
incrementally, at a pace that matches their needs and budget. The Autodesk data management solution includes Autodesk Vault, Autodesk Productstream, Autodesk Streamline, and the Autodesk DWF file format.

Delivering on its strategy to help customers create, manage, and share their digital design data, Autodesk offers the most comprehensive portfolio of integrated 2D and 3D design and data management solutions available -- helping customers design better quality products, accelerate time to market, and achieve maximum project visibility and collaboration. Unlike other offerings on the market today, these solutions are easy to deploy and use, and help companies easily transition from 2D to 3D design at their own pace, helping to make Autodesk a leader in manufacturing segments such as industrial machinery, building and plant equipment, transportation and consumer products. Autodesk's
manufacturing solutions include Autodesk Inventor Series, Autodesk Inventor Professional, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Electrical software, and the Autodesk DWF file format functionality. All manufacturing design applications come with Autodesk Vault data management capabilities built in and work seamlessly with the Autodesk Streamline collaboration service. In addition, customers can take advantage of widely available third-party applications purpose-built for Autodesk software.

COMPASS systems GmbH is based in Karlsfeld, Germany and has developed EDM/PDM products for engineering since 1992. With its COMPASS product family, the company has become prominent in the EDM/PDM sector, primarily in Europe. COMPASS systems is a company of the technology group Man and Machine Software AG, (at one time was and I think still might be) the largest AutoCAD distributor in Europe.

Autodesk's primary interest in COMPASS systems is in its two engineering-oriented PDM products - COMPASS easy and COMPASS pro. Both are compatible with several Autodesk products, including AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, AutoCAD Mechanical, Mechanical Desktop, and Inventor; as well as products from competitors, including Solid Edge, SolidWorks, CATIA, and Pro/ENGINEER. One of the most attractive features of the COMPASS products is their level of automation, meaning that data is saved centrally in a database and usually does not need to be entered tediously by hand.

Of the two main products, the capabilities found in COMPASS pro will probably generate the most interest because it's more scalable and compatible with more types of CAD, CAM, and database products than COMPASS easy. COMPASS pro manages product data and bills of material, integrates with several ERP systems, and is configurable and programmable through a configuration editor.

While this acquisition doesn't exactly propel Autodesk into the true PLM arena, it does extend, expand, round out, and strengthen its position in the realm of data management. How the COMPASS technologies will be used in the Autodesk data management stream that already includes Autodesk Vault, Autodesk Productstream, Autodesk Streamline is not clear and remains to be seen. It appears, though, that the products will remain standalone, at least in Europe, and some of the underlying technologies will be absorbed into existing Autodesk data management products.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.