Dassault Systèmes Marries ‘the Old, Good SOLIDWORKS’ to Modern Cloud Platform29 Sep, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff
Developer of the venerable MCAD software portfolio seeks the best of both worlds, striving to provide users with access to new services without losing the familiar application experience.
Many dedicated users of SOLIDWORKS keep a close eye on two events each year: SOLIDWORKS World, which was often held in February, and the release of each annual software update in the fall. The former provides a peek at which new features the company is working on, and which have been most requested by users; the latter reveals which ones made it into the software.
This year, both elements of that long-running schedule broke from tradition. SOLIDWORKS World was replaced with 3DXPERIENCE World, expanding the event’s audience to include users of Dassault Systèmes’ ENOVIA, SIMULIA, and DELMIAWORKS products. And during the launch of SOLIDWORKS 2021 this month, SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi explained that the “What’s New” update would differ from the usual template.
“This year, ‘What’s New’ is a little bit different, because a lot of things are new in the life of SOLIDWORKS,” Bassi said. “For instance, SOLIDWORKS the brand is becoming stronger, is expanding its reach with the addition of acquisitions.” For example, SOLIDWORKS is working closely with the recently acquired DELMIAWORKS to expand capabilities in areas such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) — which is especially important during the current pandemic-driven surge in demand for flexibility in manufacturing, he explained.
Whereas the annual software update used to highlight new functionalities and capabilities in the company’s flagship products first and foremost, the focus this year was on larger changes. “What is happening, and actually started long ago, ‘What’s New’ is now expanding to an entirely new portfolio: It’s called 3DEXPERIENCE Works ... an entire, completely new domain, and we are expanding the capability into, for instance, simulation, or governance. Design engineering is our strength, but we are expanding there as well, for instance with the capabilities to design anywhere, anytime, on the cloud, on the browser. And all of this is fully integrated with everything our customers use and know,” Bassi assured the audience.
At 3DXPERIENCE World this past February, “we promised everybody the most sweeping transformation ever,” said Bassi, which is the connection of “the old, good SOLIDWORKS” to the new 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the cloud services it provides. The project was completed in July. “Just in the 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS portfolio, there are about 50 applications that our customers now have new access to — this is new as well in our ecosystem. This is probably the most important announcement of the year,” he enthused.
A special edition of SOLIDWORKS that is connected to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is now being offered in "3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS" packages that bundle the desktop software application with a variety of 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud services. The three packages, 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, and Premium, mirror the existing desktop-only offers.
As for why the company believes this is important, Bassi said, “Well, because this is the most important booster to the capabilities of SOLIDWORKS, our five million users of SOLIDWORKS all over the world, whether they are students or professionals, we give them a chance to enter, at the click of a button, a world of possibilities on the cloud. So in a way, it modernizes SOLIDWORKS ... and connects it natively to an expanding portfolio.”
Ultimately, the culmination of that strategy announced at 3DXPERIENCE World is larger than any product offering: “We want to become a platform company,” said Bassi. “Because only platform can deliver the capabilities that our customers expect in a way that is scalable, in bite size, that is digestible, easy to use, easy to acquire,” he explained.
“Think of this as the bridge to the future of design,” Bassi urged. “We believe that this combination of our current capabilities and expanding those capabilities in a cloud environment is really what will be the future for the next twenty, twenty-five years.” He stressed that in addition to benefiting customers, this approach provides the company with a “huge” competitive advantage. “This is the combination of an industry leader in CAD, which is SOLIDWORKS, with a secure cloud data management, collaboration capability, mobility — the mobility is extremely important, think about what’s going on right now, I mean people need to be productive at any time, anywhere in the world, and this is exactly what this new version of SOLIDWORKS is going to deliver — plus design tools that run on the tablet, on the browser, anywhere.”
Of all the potential advantages offered by the new cloud-connected SOLIDWORKS, Bassi singled out automatic updating as one of the most important, because it solves a problem that has long dogged customers: “Who is taking care of installing the latest version of the software and updating all the parts, assemblies, and drawings? Right now, it’s a burden that falls on the shoulders of our customers. And it is risky ... and sometimes they postpone ... the upgrade because they have to set aside time, and this is not acceptable. We really want to have all our customers on the latest capabilities that we can offer to them. And in order to make it happen, this version of SOLIDWORKS will update itself, and the entire database of parts, assemblies, and drawings will update itself as well.” It is “truly a revolution,” he said.