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The Rising Resistance to Cloud-Based CAD, Part 2

11 Aug, 2015 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: CAD managers share their perspectives, including concerns about security risks, control over data, and ongoing costs.


Even though the above comments represent a widely divergent range of issues, the common thread among them is a desire to retain control. Based on reading many more reader comments, I’ve drawn a few conclusions which I’ll share here:

Many industries don’t permit cloud processes. The simple fact is, many government-regulated industries simply don’t allow cloud-based data storage, or they require rigorous compliance with detailed requirements if it is used, and most companies simply won’t expend the time or money to deal with the issue. Long story short: No cloud is easier or cheaper to control than the cloud in these scenarios.

Users don’t appreciate having their software choices dictated to them. The level of disdain for software companies forcing a cloud-based software model onto their customers is palpable.

Workflow uncertainty abounds. Questions about software versioning, getting data off the cloud if needed, how to work through Internet outages, etc., are all valid concerns that are only beginning to be addressed, because cloud-based CAD really is still in its infancy.

On Cost

I received fewer comments on cost than I thought I would, but here are two that are representative of some trends I perceived:

“We're overhead — we have to fight for every penny taken away from revenue-generating teams — so we want to buy something and keep it running as long as possible.” — M.S.P., via Facebook

“The problem is the continued revenue stream the vendors would like to introduce for items like cloud credits. This would, in the long run, cost us more than our current licensing options. Then we would have to monitor usage, tie it into project costs, limit user access to certain licenses, and ultimately our flexibility would vanish due to budgetary constraints. So cloud software has its place, and we will leverage it in limited amounts, but a full conversion to hosted services with their associated price points will not occur.” — B.M., via Facebook

The strong sense I got from the comments on cost is that users think that switching to the cloud will cost more than not using the cloud. Specifically:

Perpetual vs. rental licensing costs. Many users want the assurance that they can purchase a perpetual software license that will keep running even if they choose to discontinue their software subscription. That’s in contrast to a cloud-based tool that would stop running as soon as subscription is ended.

Administration. Many users believe that keeping track of cloud-based licensing will be more of a hassle than installing a perpetual license.

Price uncertainty. Several readers questioned what the cost for cloud-based services will be once perpetual licensing is gone. They ask the question, “What stops the vendors from gouging us later?”

The Vendors’ Perspectives

Of course, it wasn’t just CAD users who responded to my analysis of cloud-based CAD issues. I received several phone calls from cloud-based service providers, including data management companies, remote software hosting vendors, and offshore service bureaus — but no CAD software vendors. Every one of these phone calls went something like this:

“We read your newsletter, and while we agree that there are issues with cloud-based CAD, we have it all figured out, and we would like you to write an article about our company.”

When I pressed these companies on issues of cost, stability, speed, and security all but one vendor said, “You’ve just got to let us demonstrate it to you,” while declining to give specifics about costs and generally saying, “We’re just as secure as anything else you do on the cloud.” What really struck me in these conversations was that the companies trying to convince me that everything in the cloud is cheap, secure, and the best way to do things couldn’t explain how much their solution cost, how they addressed security concerns, or why I’d want to reconfigure my business to use their services.

Note: The one company I talked to that provided detailed metrics on security, speed, and application performance was Panzura. They provided me with a very cogent PowerPoint presentation about their solution that addressed everything clearly and acknowledged all the possible glitches and hang-ups that can occur in cloud-based CAD environments. Kudos to them for addressing, rather than dodging, the issues.

Summing Up

The only things about cloud-based CAD and storage that are perfectly clear to me are the great lack of confidence in the concept from the user community and a huge amount of uncertainty as to how the market will evolve. If your company isn’t sold on the cloud concept, rest assured you’re not alone — but also know that it is a trend that will affect you, so you will need to understand it.

As 2015 continues, I will periodically report on the ways that cloud trends in licensing, storage, and project optimization will affect CAD managers. Please e-mail me at with your thoughts on these trends, and let me know about any concerns you would like to see addressed in future newsletters. Until next time.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: The Rising Resistance to Cloud-Based CAD, Part 2
by: BAE
August 25, 2015 - 2:38pm
I, also, abhor subscription-based software. There are numerous references to Bricscad as an alternative to Autodesk. However, Autodesk sells perpetual license versions of all of their programs at very attractive prices at
Re: The Rising Resistance to Cloud-Based CAD, Part 2
by: JD Mather
August 29, 2015 - 12:07pm
Where is this "Cloud-Based CAD"? Cite sources. I am familiar with cloud file storage and group collaboration and have read about license verification, but I have not seen any professional level cloud-based CAD tools? If someone doesn't want cloud storage - don't use it. What professional level CAD tool "requires" cloud use?
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