CAD Manager's Newsletter (#424)

26 Mar, 2019 By: Robert Green

The Continuing Cloud CAD Controversy

Have you jumped in feet first into cloud computing? Why or why not? In this week's column we explore cloud-based CAD tools and why you might want to tread carefully with adopting fully cloud-based products.

How many years have we been hearing about cloud-based CAD now? Long enough that the conversation has progressed beyond pure marketing hype. Of course, we've been told that cloud-based CAD would make workstation-based CAD obsolete, but has it? Hardly.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter I'll explore the state of cloud-based CAD tools from a practical point of view and offer some reasons as to why your company should be wary of cloud-based tools. Here goes.

Image source TeamOktopus/
Image source TeamOktopus/

Trends Worth Noting

Let's brainstorm a bit here and think of some of the trends software vendors have pushed:

Cloud-hosted applications. Where software is NOT on your own machine, but at the software vendor's web server.

Cloud-hosted data. Where the data produced by the application is NOT on your own server, but on the vendor's servers.

Named-user licensing. Where each user must have a unique (named user) account at the vendor's web site to validate their license.

Per-use pricing. Where software licenses are irrelevant because each use is chargeable — typically using a credit or token billing system.

Subscription rental only. Where software licenses lapse after a fixed rental term rather than running perpetually.

Notice a trend within the trends? More of the central control of your applications, licenses, and data is held by the software company and more of the risk falls to you, the user.

What risk you may ask? Let's explore that concept in more detail.

Lack of Control = Risk

Let's use the trends listed to ask some diagnostic questions. Answer the questions honestly, based on what you experience at your own company and you may start to draw some conclusions yourself.

Cloud-hosted applications. If your software isn't on your own server, what happens if the hosted server is down? What happens if the software company goes out of business? What happens if the software vendor decides to triple the cost of its software? What is your escape plan should things go wrong?

Cloud-hosted data. Does the software vendor encrypt or encode your stored files? Can you backup your own data? What happens if the software company is hacked or their server goes down? Again, what is your escape plan should things go wrong?

Named-user licensing. Beyond the same concerns about server/internet outages, named-user licensing deals a death blow to the traditional practice of shared (concurrent) licensing administered from a local server. If every user must have their own unique account, then licensing costs will clearly increase.

Per-use pricing. How can you control which users are using an application with pay per use licensing? What happens if casual use of an application goes up and the cost goes way up as well?

Subscription rental only. What happens if your company is hit by a business downturn and you can't afford to renew a subscription? Read more »

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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