upFront.eZine issue #846
by Ralph Grabowski
Tom Shoemaker -- PTC vp of PLM marketing -- and Chris Bergquist -- director of PLM solutions -- talked to upfront.eZine about the Web-based PLM newly offered by PTC. (PLM is short for "product lifecycle management.")
"PTC PLM Cloud is new-news, but also old-news. PTC had the first PLM-on-demand software some 12-13 years ago, called Windchill on Demand. But it plateaued at about 100 customers, and so we divested it in 2008 [to NetIdeas, PTC's preferred hosting solution provider]. But in 2013 we bought [Netideas], revitalized Windchill on Demand, and today it's the basis for PTC PLM Cloud," said Mr Shoemaker.
PLM Cloud is based on PTC's PLM software WindChill, which now has 1.5 million seats. "We have fully embraced a SaaS [software as a service] model," said Mr Bergquist. "One price includes all of the hardware, software, storage, set up, all the upgrades."
"We are unique with our Active User Licenses," he continued. Customers identify the number of regular users, such as 5, and then pay for that every month. But should the need be cyclical, new users can be added and removed at will. So, pricing is based on actual use.
There are three packages: standard, premium, and enterprise. You need at least the premium level for any customization. "These are not stripped-down packages. Customers start with the basics -- like document management -- and then can move on to change management and so on," said Mr Bergquist. PLM Cloud contains most of PDM Link [product data management] and ProjectLink for online collaboration.
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Ralph Grabowski: How does PLM Cloud differ from other Web-based PLMs, like Autodesk's PLM 360?
Chris Bergquist: It is similar in many respects, but one of the key differences is that we support multiple CAD systems, with integrations into Creo, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and Inventor at no extra cost. In addition, the "Unite" technology in Creo works with models from different CAD systems. I want to emphasize that there is no additional cost for multi-CAD integration.
Tom Shoemaker: It is different, because it is Windchill, the first one architected for the Internet and hosted environment. Autodesk for a long time eschewed the PLM business and didn't want to be in it. We have 1.5 million users of Windchill. Also, our pay-per-use model is unique, whereas PLM 360 is pay-for-every-party. Autodesk's PLM 360 deploys the vault locally, so it must be on-premise, and pay for the install and management of Vault.
Grabowski: Is this a split between WindChill and PLM Cloud?
Bergquist: PTC is offering PLM Cloud as a Windchill-based platform. But this is a starting point that is not limited to PLM.
Grabowski: Does you mean that we can expect to see Creo on the cloud?
Bergquist: We can expect to see desktop applications delivered through the cloud in the future but we are not announcing anything today. While Creo already supports virtualized CAD deployments, PTC does not currently offer a package of Creo and PLM where both are delivered through the cloud.
Grabowski: I see that PLM Cloud is integrated with Creo, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and Inventor. What about MCAD software from other competitors, like Siemens PLM and Dassault?
Shoemaker: There are challenges with Dassault, in particular; it's a challenge for us from a license [payment] perspective [given the low cost of PLM Cloud]. We can support NX, but it is not bundled for now because the demand for it [as a high-end MCAD package] is low at the mid-market at which PLM Cloud is targeted.
Grabowski: What is the price of PLM Cloud?
Shoemaker: Customers are billed monthly, with no setup fee. Everything included, including 25GB to 50GB of storage per user. We can't provide detailed cost information, but it is similar to the pricing of cloud-based PLM from other vendors. [For reference, Autodesk 360 Cloud is $75 to $150/user/month in two step, while PTC has three steps. --Editor.]
Bergquist: Through the three packages we are offering pricing to address every kind of customer, from small ones with basic needs to enterprise-level customers. Also, we have three different classes of users: author (complete access), contributor (participate in workflows and edit Office docs), and view-print (view and print-only).
Grabowski: Does this cloud product cut out resellers?
Bergquist: We believe PLM is not yet ready to be consumed on its own. Resellers have the expertise to enable customers to get the full value from PLM and to effectively tailor the software to the specific needs of customers. To cover this, resellers get a healthy margin.
Grabowski: Would existing PLM shops want cloud-based PLM?
Bergquist: There is no question. Existing customers have an interest in this. As the software environment gets more complex -- with ERP [engineering resource planning], CRM [customer relationship management], document management, collaboration, email -- more customers want experts to handle these services, leaving the problems to the experts.
While we are not promoting existing customers to switch from on-premise to the cloud, it is possible. We do not enable existing PLM customers to swap perpetual PLM seats for PLM Cloud SaaS. Existing customers can, however, request that our PTC Cloud Services host their PLM systems using their perpetual licenses. Hosted PLM is not the same as SaaS, because software and software updates are not included; everything is fee-based in this case.
Grabowski: Is PLM Cloud implemented by customers or by PTC staff?
Bergquist: We have our own PLM experts managing the deployments.
Grabowski: Does PLM Cloud displace PLM from competitors, or is it meant or PTC customers?
Bergquist: Multi-CAD customers are an opportunity for displacement. But the strongest play is within existing Creo customers with no PLM.
Grabowski: What about security on the cloud?
Bergquist: We recognize that customers are skittish about the security in the cloud. This is not PTC-hosted infrastructure; we are taking advantage of Amazon and SunGard for the highest levels of availability and reliability.
And One More Thing...
TracePartsOnline.net lets users locate the geographical position of manufacturers through Google Map. This designers track down parts vendors closest to the manufacturing site. Also new: a faster search engine and a 3D viewer that works in Web browsers without a plug-in. The free site has 50 million parts and 9.2 million users. https://www.TracePartsOnline.net
Even More News
WorldCAD Access is blogging nearly every day about the CAD industry and tips on using hardware. (The feed is available on RSS and through email alerts.) The following articles appeared during the last week:
- foto of the sunday: ice storm
- Newest ebook on BricsCAD V15 now selling
- What Dassault plans for its future
- What Dassault plans for the cloud
- What that other kernel, C3D, is doing
On Twitter, @upfrontezine offers CAD news, late-breaking updates, and wry commentary throughout the day.
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Letters to the Editor
Re: How PTC Connects IoT with CAD
On the topic of PTC and ThingWorx, I hate to sound dumb, but what purpose does an IoT-CAD connector serve? How does it help to improve the way a designer works? Thanks in advance for enlightening me.
- Jonathan Scott
The editor replies: Internet of Things doesn't improve things, but provides one more element designers can work with, just like having a parts library or adding electrical pathways to a mechanical design. IoT is big in certain fields of computing right now, basically adding smart sensors to expensive stuff. PTC is excited that they are the only CAD vendor to provide IoT design to its customers.
Mr Scott responds: I am trying to imagine seeing real-time measurements (from a single machine in the field) overlaid in a CAD interface:
- How does it help to see the temperature or pressure on the CAD model?
- Or maybe it is an aggregate of in-the-field data that would be shown in the CAD tool.
- Perhaps the FEA workbench would show the average loading on a face, as it has been reported from sensors in the field. Is that the sort of thing we might be talking about?
The editor replies: These are good questions. I have asked PTC, and they have promised to reply.
I could see how such telemetry could help some of the guys in my department to remotely be alerted when an installation has an issue -- maybe before it ruins a bunch of belt or bearings.
- P. R.
Interesting that you're talking PTC on the starting day of Solidworks World. Are you at the show?
- D. J.
The editor replies: It is coincidence. I didn't know Solidworks World was on this week.
Mr D replies: Well, about 5,500 people here in Phoenix [AZ, USA]. I think it ranks as one of the top mech eng shows in the world, although the French are in my opinion destroying it. (Most of the founders/early employees at Solidworks World are now gone. I think only seven of the original folks are at Solidworks Corp now.) I've gone for 16 years now; possibly time to back off. I think folks may consider Onshape in the future. Gve it a few years to mature.
- - -
I wish you were doing a 2015 Quick Reference Guide. I'm completely lost without your book.
- M. A.
The editor replies: Book publishers are turning off their CAD titles as sales slow down. Even 'AutoCAD for Dummies' never got a 2015 edition.
After many years of subscribing and reading your excellent information about the CAD industry I must unsubscribe due to my lack of using any CAD products any longer, and no longer doing much software development with civil products in support of AutoCAD. I think I have been a subscriber since the beginning when I was one of the first developers in AutoCAD with my Civilsoft products. I still maintain a few of the Civilsoft products, but they are not linked in any way with AutoCAD any longer.
You have done a marvelous job in sharing the knowledge you have developed over the years with others in the CAD and MCAD markets. Keep up the good work.
- Tracy Lenocker, PE
Lenocker Consulting Group
You have been an inspiration thru the years. I sold CAD all over the world as caddirect.com very successfully, until Autodesk made me stop. I then became a successful real estate developer. I am now moving back to south Portugal to the sun, and I intend to get into the energy bar business.
I wish you the best. If ever in Portugal please email me. It would be a pleasure to host you. Thanks for the memories
- M. R.
"Postmodern theories from the 90s about disembodiment and self-representation have found a new lease on life, thanks to Oculus and Google Cardboard."
- Mark Pesce in 'The last PC replacement cycle is about to start turning'