CAD Central

31 May, 2005 By: Sara Ferris

Dassault Buys FEA Developer Abaqus, Launches Analysis Platform

Dassault Buys FEA Developer Abaqus, Launches Analysis Platform

Dassault Systèmes stepped into the analysis arena with its planned acquisition of ABAQUS, a developer of nonlinear finite-element analysis software, in an all-cash transaction valued at about $413 million. Dassault also unveiled SIMULIA, an open platform for integrating all types of simulation applications. With this initiative, Dassault hopes to diversify into markets beyond its existing manufacturing base.
Since 1978, ABAQUS has developed a family of design analysis tools, including a version that integrates with Dassault's CATIA V5.
Since 1978, ABAQUS has developed a family of design analysis tools, including a version that integrates with Dassault's CATIA V5.

The ABAQUS purchase is a key part of Dassault's plans to reshape the large but currently fragmented simulation software market, in which most companies use niche applications rather than unified solutions. Industry analysts place the simulation software market at $2.35 billion today and expect it to grow to $4 billion in the next five years, with average growth of 12% per year. Furthermore, Dassault notes that many applications currently in use are internally developed and so not included in market figures.

Abaqus generated close to $100 million in revenue last year. The transaction is subject to approval by the appropriate regulatory authorities. Neither company will require a shareholder vote. Dassault Systèmes expects that the acquisition could be completed by the end of its third fiscal quarter.

SIMULIA will support all simulation domains and enable the capture and deployment of best practices for predicting product behavior, as well as reduce cost of ownership for scientific applications. SIMULIA will give users access to simulation tools that don't require a steep learning curve.

The purchase reflects a growing interest in pulling simulation and analysis under the PLM umbrella. Previously, the volume of analysis data and the prevalence of UNIX-based analysis tools have kept them on the sidelines. Dassault's plans for SIMULIA should help bring analysis into the data management mainstream and provide closer coordination of test results with design and manufacturing.

Industry analysts at CIMdata credit growing product complexity and demand for product variations with placing a premium on the ability to quickly simulate and analyze design options. Dassault's challenge, says CIMdata, will be to maintain focus on analysis product development once Abaqus has to compete internally with other Dassault product lines for resources.

Alias Strengthens GM Partnership

Alias tools will play a significant role in long-time customer General Motors' plans to link all eleven GM Design Centers worldwide to leverage the combined creative talents of all its designers. The centers use Alias StudioTools for concept design and technical surfacing and Alias PortfolioWall software for design collaboration. Alias also provides services such as process development, software engineering and onsite support. Alias will extend the capabilities of its AutoStudio product through a plug-in that links with GM's UGS-based engineering and product data management processes.
General Motors plans to use Alias PortfolioWall software to spark design collaboration among its eleven design centers.
General Motors plans to use Alias PortfolioWall software to spark design collaboration among its eleven design centers.

GM plans to use its Teamcenter installation to manage Alias files as well as its CAD files. This, says Diane Jurgens, director of process systems and integration for GM, will enable engineers to view both Unigraphics and Alias files in the same session, allowing wider use of digital validation methods. PortfolioWall helps accelerate product development, she noted, by serving as a digital kiosk where managers can view designs created in any studio. —S.F.

AVEVA Eyes Web Collaboration

Plant design software vendor AVEVA acquired strategic partner RealityWave for £3.2 million. AVEVA's goal is to improve its VNET tool, which provides Web-based access to applications so that all participants in a project can view and manipulate project information. Realitywave develops the VizStream platform for providing Internet access to design information. AVEVA plans to focus on the oil and gas, power and marine markets. It will continue to provide technology to other RealityWave strategic partners, which include Autodesk, UGS (via Technomatix), and Bentley. Bentley is the only partner to go directly against AVEVA in the plant design market.

Bentley Continues on Acquisition Tear

The upcoming release of MicroStation (see box below) took center stage at the BE Conference held in Baltimore from May 8–12, but Bentley generated quite an amount of other news as well.
MicroStation v8 xm gains new graphics system
MicroStation v8 xm gains new graphics system

CEO Greg Bentley reported that the company earned more than $350 million in 2004. Though 20% of that goes back into software development, some goes to acquisitions, and Bentley says "the pipeline for acquisitions is more active than ever." At the event, Bentley announced the acquisition of Optram, a supplier of software for prioritizing and scheduling railway track maintenance. Customers for ORIM products include AMTRAK, CSX, New Jersey Transit, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and more.

Bentley also bought Moss Italia, a civil engineering solution provider and Bentley channel partner with offices in Milan and Rome.

RP Market recovers
RP Market recovers

A side result of this acquisition fervor is a rapidly lengthening list of Bentley products—more than 40 to date. CTO Keith Bentley doesn't believe that the company has too many products—instead, he sees it as a sign the company has a "broad and capable product base."

A new addition to that product base is Building Electrical Systems. Developed with elcoSystems U.K., the program handles design of lighting, power, fire detection, security, communications and other building subsystems. The product completes the MEP (mechanical/ electrical/plumbing) solution for Bentley Building and integrates with Bentley Architecture and Bentley Structural.

Bentley also announced efforts to federate datastores on Oracle 10g. Bentley's ProjectWise Connector for Oracle enables Bentley applications to work with any native Oracle Spatial 9i or 10g datastore.

A gala awards dinner honored outstanding customer projects in civil engineering, building design, GIS and other categories. For details on winning entries, go to:

Sara Ferris is Cadalyst's editor-in-chief.

About the Author: Sara Ferris