Delcam Joins the SaaS Movement

Delcam announced the end of perpetual licensing. Is it time to accept the SaaS CAD trend?

Delcam has announced that beginning Jan. 31, 2017, it will end sales of perpetual licenses for its PowerMILL, PowerSHAPE, PowerINSPECT, FeatureCAM, PartMaker, ArtCAM and PowerMILL Robot products.

According to the company, beginning in 2018, new Delcam customers will have the option of adopting products on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis. However, customers who own Maintenance Subscriptions of Delcam software before the end of 2017 will be grandfathered into the new scheme and will continue to receive updates to their software.

Although Delcam’s move might come as a shock to some users, the decision seems to put the British firm in lockstep with its parent company, Autodesk. After its acquisition in early 2014, Delcam users should have seen the writing on the wall. With the mighty behemoth Autodesk declaring that its Design Suite would move to a subscription-only package, it was only a matter of time before its vassal companies came to heel.

So, it’s becoming obvious—the software-as-a-service (SaaS) movement is growing. Now that SaaS has started to creep into the CAD/CAM market, one has to wonder, is SaaS a better alternative than perpetual licensing?

If forced to answer (by my own article no less!), I’d cast my lot with the pro-SaaS crowd. My current CAD activities include the use of an all-in-one SaaS modeler, CAM and simulation package.

I love it.

But what’s more, my acceptance of SaaS has also led me to rethink the way I work.

Since I started using an SaaS CAD package, I’ve stopped using a workstation as my home base for designing. Today, I use a lightweight laptop armed with a few peripherals, and whenever I need to do more intensive design work, I use a subscription-based cloud platform to spin up a powerful virtual machine that runs within my browser. My workflows are the same, and my productivity hasn’t dipped a bit.

So, the long and short of my experience with SaaS has been positive. I love the fact that I’m only pinned down to an office by my own volition. But there is one thing that’s worried me about SaaS CAD: Is it just a passing business fad?

Will the Autodesks, Delcams and Onshapes of the world be able to make a profit from this new model?

Now trust me, I’m not really concerned about Autodesk’s financial solvency. I’m sure they’ll be fine one way or another. My concern is completely self-centered. I have to ask myself, am I just getting used to a new (better) way of working, only to have the rug pulled out from under me in a few years? Will Autodesk or Onshape fold up their SaaS operations if subscription revenues continue to fall short of perpetual license profits?

I sure hope not . . . because SaaS CAD has been wonderful, and I can’t imagine going back to an office ever again.