Or rather, ‘up in the (data) clouds’. After all, the model-based, data-driven PLM tool 3DEXPERIENCE is now offered by Dassault Systèmes as a software as a service (SaaS) solution in the cloud. Just to mention a few advantages: even greater flexibility and faster implementation, whilst also generating savings in terms of both time and costs.
An utopian fantasy? Not at all. Bruce Brockmann, Senior Consultant at TECHNIA, an expert in the implementation and development partners of Dassault Systèmes for over 30 years, even suggests that other countries such as France are much further ahead of Germany with regard to this technology.
“3DEXPERIENCE facilitates optimisation within the product development and design processes,” Bruce Brockmann describes the crux of the product. All brands – such as CATIA, ENOVIA and SIMULIA – are combined in the database-based business experience platform. “This allows all parties to work together interactively, developing and sharing simultaneously.” As a result, collaborating becomes much easier and more effective, which ultimately reduces the amount of time needed, thus also reducing costs for projects and tasks. The cloud solution allows us to make another huge leap forward in terms of efficiency and becoming even more flexible.
The key to this is the decision to offer 3DEXPERIENCE as a SaaS solution. “Essentially, software as a service means that you no longer have to deal with all the installations, maintenance work, updates, backups, and other administrative tasks. So users can concentrate on their work,” says Brockmann. Product development in the cloud means that clients have a single point of contact in the form of Dassault Systèmes who handle all customer service and support matters for the PLM tool.
We guarantee that the cloud is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year and that it is always updated with the latest software developments – including maintenance, licensing and upgrades. This also reduces the user’s overall operating costs as requirements in terms of data processing and storage, facility costs and in-house customer service staff are all greatly diminished.
In addition to this, the system’s scalability and adaptability are a major advantage. On the one hand, every user has access to the entire portfolio of features and components and can choose exactly the ones that best suit their individual requirements, thus allowing them to compile a custom-made PLM for the entire company.
“Development, simulation, marketing, management – everyone can work together on the same platform. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions are infinitely scalable – new members of staff, project partners or suppliers just need their login details and they can get to work right away,” explains Brockmann.
Options such as which applications are available, which data can be accessed and which rights are granted to each respective user can all be defined specifically. The intuitive user interface ensures that users can quickly find their way around the software. “The user interface is very similar to a typical web application and, most importantly, it is the same for all users, regardless of which department they work in. That’s a huge advantage.”
In the cloud-based version, 3DEXPERIENCE users can access both web apps and author applications. The available web apps include 3DPlay, which allows users to share three-dimensional views and replay scenes. They also have access to 3DSearch, which can be used to search and collect structured and unstructured data at the same time.
Author apps are installed on the client so that they always receive the latest updates and upgrades. Consequently, CATIA, DELMIA or SIMULIA can always run in parallel in order to make the best possible use of all advantages – local storage for speed and cloud storage for data management.
The recent hacking attack targeting the computer systems of Britain’s hospital network took place less than a month ago and so, of course, the question of security is currently very prevalent. “In Germany, attitudes towards using the cloud in product development processes are still very reticent, this is particularly due to concerns about data security. If we take a look at our neighbours in France, the situation is very different,” says Brockmann.
Although he can understand these concerns, he is keen to make assurances: “Fears regarding data loss or theft when using 3DEXPERIENCE in the cloud are completely unjustified. With its ‘Security in Depth’ concept, Dassault Systèmes offers a higher standard of security than that which is used in normal online banking. A whole series of independent mechanisms guarantee that all data is ensured optimum protection at all times.” The measures incorporated and internalised by Dassault Systèmes include ISO 2700x standards, NIST 800, OWASP and CobIT. Internet security, security of applications, of the cloud, of the entire virtual system as well as the physical security of data centres is given the utmost priority.
“Simply put, there is not just a fence, an alarm system, security personnel and video surveillance, but there is also a safe with a double lock and bombproof casing,” explains Brockmann.
“We are all aware of how sensitive this subject is and the huge importance of data protection, which is exactly why ‘Security in Depth’ is a core component of our SaaS package.”
“Startups or small engineering firms in particular stand to benefit from the cloud-based solution,” Brockmann gives his assessment. “Especially in these fields, it really pays off when the entire infrastructure, customer service and support is included in the software package. The smaller the company, the harder it is to allocate sufficient resources. With SaaS, this balancing act is no longer necessary.
Prospective buyers have the opportunity to use a test version so they can try out the work operations and performance capability provided by 3DEXPERIENCE. Alternatively, they can also visit TECHNIAs 3DEXPERIENCE lab in Karlsruhe and see the software in action for themselves.
However, large companies can also optimise their product development processes thanks to the cloud. “Every feature – from three-dimensional design to system technology to sales – all on one platform. All information and documents are bundled together and all sections are summarised and clearly mapped out. This results in staff who grow together as efficient, interdisciplinary teams and processes that can be implemented collectively in a quick, targeted and economic manner.”
In addition to this, the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform is not specific to any one industry. “From medicine to architecture all the way to shipbuilding and vehicle manufacture or even financial accounting, all industries can enjoy the full functionality of V6 technology with all the benefits of the cloud,” confirms Brockmann.
“Easy to use, high degree of user comfort and no extra support costs. These days, we expect more from companies than ever before, making a modern PLM system absolutely indispensable. With this cloud solution, it is now so much easier for you to concentrate on your core capabilities – because TECHNIA takes care of the rest.”
This really does whisk you away to cloud nine – are you ready to join us in the cloud?
The article was published in the “Digital Engineering” magazine 04/2017.