The Time For Online CAD Is Now. Why?
If you’re skeptical about the idea of CAD online, we understand. There has been plenty of hype from the big CAD providers about how they will be making their products available on the cloud soon…but in reality, no one has really achieved that target yet. It’s always sensible to take a critical view of new technology and expect to see solid evidence of its effectiveness before trying it out.
CAD designers who might like the idea of creating their projects online also have reasonable concerns about the technology:
- Will latency be an issue?
- Is my data stored securely enough?
- Are the files too heavy to edit in the cloud?
While this kind of skepticism is healthy, it’s also sensible to take a balanced view and hear out both sides of the argument. If you’re not yet convinced by the idea that CAD applications perform equally well in the cloud as they do on-premises, here are 5 examples of how the technology has already been successfully deployed online:
1 - Success with big customers
Cloud-based CAD machines have already been used multiple times by designers at major firms – proving that the approach is technically feasible:
- In 2014, Airplane manufacturer Turkish Airline Industries was one of the first companies to announce that it was running Siemens NX on virtual CAD machines. Siemens NX was used by Turkish Airline Industries in a cost-effective private cloud environment and was deployed in a private cloud using virtual desktop infrastructure.
- Also in 2014, French carmaker PSA (better known for its brands Peugeot, Citroen and Opel/Vauxhall) announced that it runs CATIA on virtual machines. The firm began a ‘blind test’ one morning in 2013, whereby designers in Spain logged into their workstations believing they were logging into their desktops – when in fact they were working seamlessly on an NVIDIA GRID server in Paris.
2 - CAD Vendors have certified virtual CAD machines
CAD vendors have certified virtual machines for their applications – showing confidence that they are able to deliver heavy-duty software over the internet. Dassault Systems, for example.
3 - Proof from NVIDIA, Citrix et all
NVIDIA (GPU) and Citrix & VMware (Virtual Desktop Software) provide the technology to run CAD on virtual infrastructure and they have published several customer case studies. Here are just some of the success stories:
NVIDIA’s website features an article about how Honda runs CATIA in a virtual desktop environment.
“It is critical that all users, engineers and designers have a high performance workstation that can handle the demands of applications like CATIA. These high-performance engineering workstation (EWS) environments are at the core of their R&D, and in 2015 the center launched a ‘new-generation EWS project,’ enabling users to leverage the same environment from anywhere and on any device without a change in quality or performance.”
Airbus is a VMware customer. Airbus’s designers use virtual CAD machines to collaborate with suppliers on CAD files. In VMware’s brochure “Deliver Brilliant CAD Performance“, Airbus are quoted as saying:
“Airbus decided to implement virtual desktops to streamline end-user access and easily enable suppliers to access major applications [CATIA] supporting Airbus aircraft development. The power of the combined offering [from VMware and NVIDIA] will allow us to achieve even more efficient business cases.”
Citrix customers are also running CAD applications on virtual machines. This Citrix report highlights how ABB, Knightec, Whiha and Volvo Construction Equipment are using virtual CAD desktops:
“Faced with the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy, these organizations are using virtual CAD desktops to provide their distributed workforce with access to apps and data from any location, on any device.”
4 - See For Yourself On YouTube
There are numerous clips on YouTube that show how well 3D applications run on virtual infrastructure. Just search for "Your CAD application" (e.g. "Siemens NX") and "Cloud" to see how well these Applications perform in the cloud.
5 - Try it yourself
If you want to try it yourself, we invite to bring your CAD to designairspace - for free. Simple click to start your free trial.
We understand why you might be skeptical about whether CAD in the cloud is a realistic option yet. However, with the growing number of companies using some form of cloud-based CAD, the evidence it works is hard to deny.