"Up in the air" with cloud computing

One of the main themes of SolidWorks World 2010 is that of "cloud computing." Parent company Dassault Systems is betting millions of dollars on providing a way to stay ahead of what it calls an "inflexion point" soon to happen in the way business is done. An example of such a point happened around 1994 when CAD went from Unix to Windows. According to Jeff Ray and other company personnel, this paradigm shift to cloud computing in the design engineering world (and even the consumer world) will not be a forced migration imposed from "above" with the need to update old versions of software. Instead, as the economic advantages of the model become more obvious, companies will voluntarily want to move to the new technology. Ray also says there is still a lot up in the air about how this will work. But later this year, the company is shipping its first Enovia 6-based cloud app for product data sharing (it does not have a name yet).

The idea: software such as SolidWorks will be available as an app in a store similar to the iPhone App store. Users will have a "passport" that lets them just go and get the service they want. The business model will be an online licensing model. One spokesperson says Panosonic has already done this with Lotus Notes, now available as a service on the Web. Basically, cloud computing provides a network of communities tied together with the same interface. In this scenario, Dassault will own the server farm.

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