Cloud Engineering Software: More Than Engineering Software on the Cloud29 Sep, 2019 By: Jim Brown
Cloud software applications can simply replace on-premises infrastructure, or they can add more value by leveraging special cloud computing characteristics to deliver previously difficult — or impossible — solutions.
Our previous article in this series, “The Subtle Shift to ‘Why Not Cloud?’” shares that the view on cloud computing in business is changing. It’s shifting from a question of whether to use the cloud to a question of “Why not?” Our research shows that many businesses are moving beyond the point of merely accepting the cloud as an option, to choosing the cloud as their preferred deployment option.
The cloud isn’t for every company: For as many companies as we find that favor the cloud, we find a similar number that don’t allow it. Why the dichotomy? Some companies are prohibited from using the cloud due to industry standards or customer mandates. Others are cautious, and prefer to be responsible for their own data security. While some companies feel that security concerns have become better understood and more manageable as the industry has matured, others may point to the increased likelihood of intrusion when the intellectual property of many companies is consolidated in a single location.
We’ll talk more in a future post about how service-level agreements (SLAs), cloud standards, and audit processes can help mitigate security risk. But the reality today is that there are strong opinions on both sides of the discussion. This article will help those that are open to the idea evaluate the benefits of the cloud.
Why are so many companies becoming cloud advocates? The cloud delivers a variety of benefits. We organize them into five categories:
Unique benefits for engineering software
- Strategic benefits.
The first three are relatively common across different types of software solutions, and are likely understood by companies with experience in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), or other cloud solutions. They may already have experienced business benefits and the ability to leverage shared resources with dedicated specialists for performance, business continuity, and security. But there is more to consider, based on the specific needs of engineers.
Why Cloud for Product Innovation and Engineering Software?
Let’s focus on the unique benefits that apply more specifically to engineering software. As we say when exploring cloud options for product innovation and development, “It’s important to differentiate between offerings that simply replace on-premises infrastructure from those that leverage special cloud computing characteristics to deliver previously difficult or impossible solutions.” As you can see in the chart, those unique benefits are often more valuable than the generic cloud value. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Collaborate on the cloud. Product innovation, product development, and engineering are community efforts. Many companies rely on the input of users across the globe and involve third parties, including customers, suppliers, and engineering partners, to develop a successful product.
The cloud is a more natural way to extend computing across these entities and locations. It allows companies to set up a neutral location to share information without having to let others inside their firewall. By providing an easy way to share information, it also helps curtail the all-too-common practice of engineers sending sensitive design data via uncontrolled methods, such as email and file-sharing services like Dropbox.
Provide “infinite” compute. Engineering solutions can require significant compute or memory resources. Processes such as machine learning, generative design, or multi-physics analysis can require large-scale computing power. Most companies, however, only need that power on an intermittent basis, and can’t justify having that amount of hardware in-house and underutilized.
The cloud offers access to bursts of effectively limitless compute power without companies having to own, provision, or maintain the hardware. It allows companies to leverage shared high-performance computational resources on an as-needed basis. This brings this scale of computing power to a broader audience so that more than a few specialists can leverage it.
IoT and analytics. Many companies are shifting to more digital, connected business models. They may be connecting with their products in the field with the Internet of Things (IoT), or collecting manufacturing information via the industrial IoT (IIoT). Gathering sensor and other data generates significant data volumes that are difficult or impossible to manage internally, particularly when it includes time-sensitive data that requires redundancy.
The cloud provides effectively unlimited storage, with enhanced continuity. This allows companies to collect vast amounts of data in the cloud and run analytics, such as artificial intelligence (AI). The cloud is particularly well suited to this: It can handle the volume and workload, scaling as needed.
Speaking of scalability. Scalability is not only about computing power. The ability to scale users is a business benefit that has some unique value in supporting product innovation and product development. Program-based or seasonal businesses that experience substantial changes in technical staffing are relatively common. These companies can scale up (and more importantly, down) the number of user licenses as needed, and not have to worry about having too few seats or paying for more than they need.
So Why Cloud?
The advantages of the cloud span a variety of dimensions with some applying to many types of solutions, but the ones above offer relatively unique value to the engineering software industry. The tactical value of shifting to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model may be enough to justify the shift financially, but the capabilities above probably eclipse those in business value.
Solutions are now available; it’s time for more companies to take a look.
This concludes the second part of Tech-Clarity and Siemens PLM Software’s series on the benefits of the cloud in business; watch for additional articles on this topic. For more information, visit the Siemens PLM Software cloud page.