PTC made its first step towards cloud-hosted CAD through last quarter's acquisition of NetIDEAS. Here's how PTC ceo James E. Heppelmann explains his thinking about the cloud:
Windchill is the first PLM system and, I'd argue, one of the first enterprise applications -- period -- to be available in a pure native way of architecture back in 1998. And there was this group of customers, actually in a large defense company who purchased this technology and then said, "Wow, this is really an interesting breakthrough," as compared to the client/server technology of the day.
They got so excited, they decided, "We're going to start a company to host Windchill [called NetIDEAS]". So NetIDEAS has existed since right around 2000, give or take a year, and their whole business has been hosting Windchill.
Now we at PTC didn't exactly know how to deal with them sometimes, but nonetheless their whole business was predicated on hosting our technology. They had built a portfolio of about 80 customers, including some big ones like the U.S. Navy, where they were hosting systems for the customer. We'd sell the software to the customer, but we ship it to NetIDEAS, and NetIDEAS would host it.
So first of all, they're an excellent company and hugely knowledgeable in how to host the PLM systems, both large and small. Okay, so now to the question: How does our technology portfolio evolve over time? There's really two thrusts:
- One, is how to take some technologies we've acquired and better integrate them together?
- The second question is, how fast to move some or all of that into the cloud?
I think there's not a simple answer to that, but I think what we're talking about here is an evolution.
Nobody today is kicking down our doors and saying, "I need a product that's fundamentally different than what you're trying to sell me." I think we're trying to stay ahead of our customers, and make sure that by the time that day comes, we're already for it.
So we are both driving initiatives to think about how to bring some of this technology, first into a managed service environment with NetIDEAS; second, maybe into a peer cloud SaaS environment over time; and then I think that for the integration-in-enterprise-fabric story, some amount of it will be done on premise, and then over time I think that the cloud SaaS model gives us a slightly different approach to sort of finish that project.
And I'm not sure we'll ever be finished, because we'll keep making acquisitions, and we'll have to keep updating our technology strategies to accommodate some hot new piece of technology we just acquired.