100 Days After PTC bought OnShape: What About The Future Of CAD In The Cloud?

100 Days After PTC bought OnShape: What About The Future Of CAD In The Cloud?

CAD vendors can no longer ignore the cloud

At the beginning of November 2019, PTC – one of the world’s leading CAD software providers – announced that they had bought OnShape for $470m. OnShape are a relative newcomer to the CAD world, but made waves as one of the first true SaaS CAD offerings. For the first time, designers, architects and engineers didn’t need to be chained to an office desk to get their work done. As long as they had an internet connection, they could do work from anywhere.

So, what does PTC’s purchase of the upstart say about the future of CAD?

Cloud is the next platform for CAD

Over the past decade, the cloud has had a dramatic effect on how businesses is done around the world. From collaboration to project management to document creation, employees can now securely work with one another without having to be in the same physical place – just one of the main benefits the cloud brings.

Until now, the world’s most popular CAD vendors have been pretty resistant to offering their services over the cloud. But PTC’s purchase of OnShape shows that vendors are finally waking up to the opportunity – and threat – that the cloud presents.

“Death comes from below” 

In an article explaining the purchase, PTC’s CEO explains the company’s purchase from a business perspective, arguing that in the market for software, “death comes from below”:

  • New technologies are often purchased by smaller companies looking for a competitive advantage
  • As these technologies become more popular, mid-sized businesses also invest
  • Eventually, it is only the largest customers who are still using legacy tools – and when they move to the new tools, established vendors will face serious difficulties

This is why large, successful software vendors with major customers can unexpectedly ‘die’ because they don’t respond fast enough to technology being used at the other end of the market. Purchasing OnShape shows PTC are well aware of the threat that the cloud might pose – and it’s a strong indication that they see the cloud playing a big role in the future of CAD.

Why cloud is going to start cutting away at the on-premises CAD market 

We’ve written before about why cloud-based CAD is so important, but it’s worth reiterating why PTC made the move:

The on-premises model is hugely inefficient

One of the biggest problems with on-premises CAD is that it is incredibly inefficient. To run CAD software, companies must pay for expensive upgrades periodically, and then fork out for the next version of the tech every few years. What’s more, they will spend tens of thousands of dollars on administrative staff and storage on their company servers. 

The cloud, by contrast, is continually updated at no extra cost, you don’t need to employ staff or consultants to administer it and all your storage is handled offsite in cheap cloud servers.

Better collaboration

Using CAD on-premises is a fairly individualistic task. When one designer has a file open, no-one else can access it and see what they’re doing. In an era where business collaboration is prized, this seems out of touch.

With CAD in the cloud, multiple users can access a file at the same time from multiple locations. All changes are tracked, and it means work can be completed much faster and more efficiently.

The cloud offers incredible power and innovative technology

There’s no doubt that modern CAD programmes are incredibly powerful. But, they could always be improved. Shifting CAD to the cloud gives designers even more power and allows access to cutting edge technology.

Imagine your designs could benefit from Artificial Intelligence tools that could make suggestions to work as you go? The cloud offers immense computing power, allowing generative design to shift up to the next level, and for designers to make use of tech such as Augmented Reality and simulation.


A big moment for CAD in the cloud

When one of the world’s leading CAD developers so openly backs the technology, it provides compelling evidence that CAD-based cloud has a bright future. At Designair, we have built one of the world’s first cloud-based CAD platforms. If you’re ready to see how CAD in the cloud would work for you, start our free, 5-day trial today.