PLM This Week: Solid Edge Introduces Cloud and Data Management, Autodesk Revenues Fall

News from Siemens PLM, Autodesk and NGC PLM.

Focus on the Cloud and Data Management in Solid Edge ST9

Solid Edge is occasionally referred to as the CAD industry’s best kept secret.

This mainstream CAD software was developed around the same time as SolidWorks. But unlike SolidWorks, which quickly swept up most of the professional desktop CAD market thanks to its advanced marketing, Solid Edge failed to gain significant market traction.

This lack of traction can largely be attributed to the way that Solid Edge developer UGS shifted between different distribution and channel models.  When Siemens took over in 2007, they remedied this to a certain extent. From a technical standpoint, there is no doubt that Solid Edge compared well to its competition, and in many respects even led development.

The early Solid Edge was the first example of an integrated PDM system.  Later, their “synchronous technology” that lets users switch between direct and parametric modeling on the fly, was unmatched when it first came out.

Now Siemens is launching version ST9 of this highly competent CAD solution, and their drive to develop leading technology remains apparent. The main focus of version ST9 is the introduction of cloud storage that will let users access their designs anywhere at any time. Other important changes include an upgraded, scalable data management solution, as well as rapid migration of legacy data.

Solid Edge ST9’s cloud capabilities are meant to provide faster and more flexible deployment options, improved user access, and collaboration across remote designs teams. Things like licenses and user preferences can be stored in the cloud, enabling users to access their personal environment at any time and from anywhere.

There are also storage options that come from cloud-enabled vaulting, making it possible to store design data and share it with external suppliers and customers. Siemens will also be supporting third party storage solutions such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and Box. Siemens is quick to point out that while this is meant to give their users more flexibility, they can still do all of their design work offline.

When it comes to PDM and PLM tasks, Siemens has added better integration with its Teamcenter solution. There is now a ribbon bar in the Solid Edge interface which includes an embedded window for the interface add-on Active Workspace.

The ribbon lets users perform where-used searches and initiate Teamcenter workflows, view and edit properties information, and see how the data is synchronized. The Active Workspace window allows designers to perform simple text-based “filter” searches to find the data they need.  They can then can drag parts into Solid Edge for editing, or place them into an assembly.

For the more down-to-earth data management tasks, ST9 introduces a new design manager utility which allows users to perform instant searches for files and properties, as well as impact analysis. The good news is that this tool does not require the user to install any database components to run it.

One of Solid Edge’s strengths has always been the ability to import CAD data from other systems. Version ST9 sees these migration capabilities fleshed out. For example, the associativity between SolidWorks models and drawings can now be migrated directly to Solid Edge. Additionally, a robust Solid Edge 2D to AutoCAD software export tool ensures seamless mapping of Solid Edge drafting elements to AutoCAD.

Solid Edge ST9 provides easy access to the 2D designs created in Siemens’ newly announced Catchbook software, which enables users to rapidly create 3D models and professional engineering drawings from sketches.

Solid Edge ST9 will release sometime this summer. For more information, check out

Business Transformation Causes Sharp Revenue Decline for Autodesk

Autodesk's Carl Bass.

Autodesk’s president and CEO, Carl Bass.

Autodesk just released the figures for the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, and it’s quite clear that the company is still navigating the choppy waters of business transformation.

The CAD and PLM developer is making headway with its strategy to phase out perpetual licenses and maintenance contracts in favor of pay-as-you-go software rental subscriptions. 

This strategy kicked into high gear at the end of last year when Autodesk stopped selling new perpetual licenses for most of its stand-alone products. However, the strategy is hurting Autodesk’s revenue in the short term.

The good news for Autodesk is that they added 132,000 subscriptions during the quarter, reaching 2.71 million in total. The company also gained about 140,000 “new model” subscriptions, which mainly pertains to customers possessing a desktop license who have upgraded to the cloud subscription model. 

This had the effect of increasing the company’s total annualized recurring revenue (ARR) by 9 percent year-over-year, to a total of $1.44 billion. The ARR for new model subscriptions increased by 71 percent during the same period, and landed at $308 million.

All in all, this recurring revenue comprised 70 percent of total revenue, compared to 51 percent of total revenue in the first quarter last year. This is a very good indication that the plan is moving forward. The bad news for Autodesk is that revenue decreased by 21 percent year-over-year to end at $512 million, roughly in line with the analyst consensus of $513 million.  

Autodesk was also quite conservative in its forward looking statements, putting its guidance between $500 and $520 million for the second quarter, and $1,950 to $2,050 million for the full fiscal year. Over the course of 2016 Autodesk expects to add between 475,000 to 525,000 new subscriptions.

“Our customers and partners continue to embrace Autodesk’s two transitions, to a subscription-based business model and to cloud-based software,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO.

“We continue to diligently control our costs while investing in the transition. We’re striking a healthy balance in achieving both our short term and long term goals,” Bass said.

From a geographical standpoint revenues decreased across the board. In the Americas, revenue was $218 million, a decrease of 11 percent year-over-year, while EMEA decreased by 17 percent (11 percent on constant currency basis) during the same period, to $203 million.

An even more dramatic change was seen in Asia, which decreased by 42 percent to $92 million, while income from emerging economies shrunk by 40 percent, to $55 million.

The elimination of traditional licenses has also hit the bottom line of Autodesk’s partners. Resellers such as Northern European Symetri have reported a clear decline in sales and have had to adjust to a more “back-heavy” revenue stream.

Major Apparel Manufacturer Implements PLM from NGC

Fashion PLM developer NGC Solutions has announced that Grupo M, the Western Hemisphere’s largest apparel manufacturer, has selected NGC’s PLM software. According to the company, Grupo M chose NGC’s PLM platform to drive innovation and efficiency for its rapidly growing business.

Grupo M has more than 10,000 employees in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, producing more than 20 million garments per year and uses 220,000 pounds of fabric each week. The company’s customers include some of the largest retailers and brands in the world.

With NGC’s software, Grupo M aims to raise the bar, relying on NGC’s fashion PLM for further productivity improvements throughout its organization. NGC’s PLM will provide Grupo M with key capabilities such as line planning, tech packs, digital asset management, material development, sampling, costing, and testing and compliance. Features such as workflow calendars, global collaboration and exception dashboards will further improve communication while helping to ensure that key deadlines are met.

“Grupo M is an innovator in apparel manufacturing, and their selection of NGC validates our leadership position in fashion PLM,” said Mark Burstein, president of sales, marketing and R&D at NGC Software. “We look forward to working with Grupo M to help them reduce lead times by streamlining every area of product design and development.”