Email is dead.

I have heard that for several years.  As they say, rumors of email’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Nonetheless, as ubiquitous as email is in corporate communication, it’s not necessarily the best tool for the job.  Most misused or overused tool maybe, but rarely the best tool.  So if we know that email isn’t necessarily the best tool for communication, why are we constantly trying to use it for other functions, like file sharing?  Clearly email wasn’t designed for this and is even worse as a file transfer protocol than as a communication protocol.

But What Are My Options?

That’s the eternal question, isn’t it?  How do I securely share data with my customers and suppliers?  I guess you could fax a copy of the drawing.  How about burning all the data to CD or DVD and mail the hard media?  Or try setting up an FTP site, because 1980s technology with anonymous login or clear-text sign-in resolves all the security issues inherit with file transfer via email.  Or maybe, just maybe, you can use the latest internet technology with better security and more control.

You Mean the Cloud?

A cloud is a mass of small droplets suspended in the atmosphere.  Metaphorically, the cloud is an amorphous object, hard to define, ever changing, ever expanding; an intangible idea difficult to conceptualize or to model.  What I’m talking about is a client-server architecture setup over the internet.  So yes, I’m talking about the cloud, and that’s the beauty.

So Solid Edge is Going to be CAD in the-Cloud?

No! That’s not it at all.  Solid Edge leadership has repeatedly stated it is desktop software focused on helping the user design better.  But, there are obvious benefits to being able to use the cloud to share data.  Remember, there are many definitions of “cloud” and the only one being referred to herein is the data cloud.  Consider it an external server storing your data. 

You control and manage the access to the data, someone else controls and manages the hardware.  It’s like job sharing.  And what better way to share a job than to divide the workload among the respective experts: Siemens’ Solid Edge develops the design tools and GrabCAD expands cloud-based data storage tools.  Your maintenance dollars get value by focusing the resources to where they will be optimally used.  And since both GrabCAD and Solid Edge are available on a month-to-month subscription, there’s no large up-front cost prohibiting entry into this market.

Client-Server Architecture

IT historians are familiar with client-server architecture.  Solid Edge  is the client.  It’s installed locally on a workstation or desktop, behind the firewall, and maintained locally either with a perpetual license or through Solid Edge’s new monthly subscription plan.  GrabCAD is the server.  It exists somewhere in that nebulous environment known as the internet, aka cloud.

GrabCAD has both a public library and private workbenches.  GrabCAD users create their own workbench environment and set up access controls to as few or as many users as they require.  Solid Edge users create and manage their data locally.  When they are ready to share that data with their suppliers or customers, they publish the file directly to GrabCAD via an add-on within the Solid Edge application.  If a customer or supplier is a member of the private Workbench, they automatically get an update notification that new data has been added to the Workbench.  Collaboration made easy.  The original data stays local, only a copy is uploaded to GrabCAD’s data cloud.  Backups made easy.

Right now, the data transfer is only one direction.  Users can push data from Solid Edge to GrabCAD.  In the future, the data transfer will be bi-directional.  Users will be able to upload their data to GrabCAD directly from Solid Edge or download data from a GrabCAD library directly into Solid Edge.  And with Solid Edge’s synchronous technology, dealing with imported data works the same as dealing with native data, therefore the files may not have to be in native Solid Edge format.

Siemens has sponsored promotion of their subscription-based offerings on ENGINEERING.com. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine.  Scott Wertel

 

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