"Cloud Computing" is catching fire in the world of CAD and CAE. However, mistakes can be made when we do not stop to think about the ramifications of changing too fast without proper safeguards.
I would like to suggest some things to think about before it becomes impossible to stay off of the internet. This list outlines some pros and cons to cloud computing.
- To run the program, computers of all types (Mac, PC, laptop, netbook, tablet, desktop) only need to access it, typically in a web browser or lightweight portal. The computer you use does not have to be powerful - it only has to be able to access the internet and a remote server. Perhaps even smart phones will be able to run the program.
- All your programs in the "Cloud" are immediately updated to the latest versions when they are available. This can save time and ensure you are always using the latest way of doing things.
- The program is made available on a pay-as-you-go subscription, yearly, semiannual or monthly fee. Programs that once needed large investments or hardware, are now available to small firms or for projects.
- Access to the files and programs are dependent on internet access of the client and the host. It can be a risk to depend on third party internet access for critical events, like during a pitch meeting. Some services allow for limited or optional access on premise, like 3DEXPERIENCE. However, this is not guaranteed.
After being in the electrical construction industry for well over 35 years, I have seen what happens in heavy storms. It's no secret that much of the electrical infrastructure has not been maintained to optimal levels here or in other countries.
- Security can be an issue for cloud services. We all have heard how hackers have got into the "most secure" of all areas like governments and research centers. So how secure is a cloud service? To a hacker, the prospects of accessing information from hundreds of companies by hacking one cloud service rather than having to hack the companies individually sounds like a win for them.
Assuming you have hired good people that are both knowledgeable and trustworthy, your information might be safer in your own building. If you have certain government agencies as clients, they might ask for added security which may be easier to prove in house.
- The cloud computing wave can act as an incentive to downsize your technology. You no longer need expensive desktop workstations if you can get away with a netbook or laptop. However, older software or data might be needed in the future. Since you have scrapped all the desktops, this information may not be accessible anymore.
I think cloud computing is a nice idea. However, I am simply not convinced that it's time for all engineers to give up on their "on-the-ground" software just yet.