CAD Manager's Newsletter (#449)8 Jul, 2020 By: Robert Green
Whose CAD Is It, Anyway? Part 1
It's common to think that all things CAD are now on the cloud — but it's not true. Carefully evaluating the tradeoffs of cloud-based CAD vs. local CAD is still in your best interest.
You sit down at your computer, log into your cloud-based CAD tool at the software vendor's server, perform some edits, then save your proprietary CAD file to a cloud-based server. So far so good, right? But let's now ask ourselves the following questions: If the software vendor's website is down, how could I log in to make edits? If the cloud-based server is offline, could I retrieve my file? And if the software vendor went out of business, how could I ever access the software again? And finally, what if the software vendor made a big change in license terms or prices that made me reconsider doing business with that company —given the proprietary data format, would I have any real option to walk away? In short, whose CAD is this — mine or the vendor's?
In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we'll begin an exploration of a variety of topics that seek to clarify these types of questions and provide some strategies for making your CAD your own and mitigating your risk. Here goes.
Cloud Data Concerns
Just to be sure we're all using the same terms, I'll quickly define the principal areas of data concerns for cloud architectures:
Cloud license validation. In this case, you have an account with the vendor and you must log into their system to validate your license. Some vendors require a login for each usage, while others may validate a license on a periodic interval (like 30 days), but the point is that if you don't use their system, sooner or later your software won't start. Possible data concerns here are tracking of user login location, machine metrics, etc. You'll need to examine your license agreement very closely to see what information is actually being gathered.
Cloud applications. In this case, the application software itself is located in the cloud, so not only will you log into the vendor's system, but you'll be using the software from their system as well. Possible data concerns here are system downtime, no real control of software versioning (since the application software can be updated at any time by the vendor), and of course, what might happen if the company went out of business or discontinued the software.
Cloud storage. When you're done working you've got to save a file, and if that file is stored on the cloud, you're making the assumption that the cloud resource will be available whenever you need it. Millions of people utilize cloud storage with systems like OneDrive, Dropbox, etc., so we've grown accustomed to this concept. Possible data concerns are where the cloud server(s) are located, and what the governing rules are for protection of privacy and data on those servers. If you think the latter is an invalid concern, recall how personal information is being harvested from applications like TikTok — or even Facebook — and consider whether your mission-critical business data is really being protected with the cloud services you're using today.
Using matter vs. anti-matter as an analogue, let's think what the anti-cloud might be for a moment. The anti-cloud would have to remove each possible data concern outlined above, including:
|•||Cloud license validation|
|•||Cloud application storage|
|•||Cloud data storage.|
In each case, the anti-cloud seems to be the locally installed application — the option that we've all used in the past, if you think about it. Consider the following:
Local license validation. Install your software to your machine and authorize it once, then run it on that machine without any connection to the Internet for as long as your operating system allows it.
Local application storage. All components of the core application installed to the user's local drive (including the license) so the application can run without any Internet connection and can continue to run even if the software company went out of business.
Local data storage. By storing all your data on your local server, behind your own firewall, your data is protected by your security and intellectual property laws in the country where your server resides.
I can already hear someone thinking, "Well that may have been true in the old days, but everything is cloud-based now, so why is he talking about this?" Let's explore that thought. Read more »
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