OK folks get ready for the next huge round of shake outs in the CAD CAM market. http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2013/11/07/autodesk_delcam_acquisition/
I think that Autodesk is very smart about their plans to aquire pieces of the complete manufacturing puzzle. First HSMWorks, a purchase no one saw coming and one that shook up the CAM world. Now to Autodesks credit they have bent over backwards to satisfy their new-found customers and alleviate their fears. A friend of mine had a seat he used in his shop and the deal he finally ended up with was three years of HSM maintenance free subscription to cover the cost of now having to buy a full seat of SW. And of course Autodesk is busy porting this to Inventor with HSM Express the two d version there for free available right now for these guys. Obviously they intend to migrate users to Inventor over time would certainly be my conjecture.
So now we probably will have Delcam as a part of Autodesk. The same Autodesk whose Carl Bass has made no bones about having to work on the cloud for their stuff in time. You know what? If Autodesk buys up enough stuff and they can conspire with people like Dassault to force people to go where they want many of us will end up on the cloud as a condition required by the use of software we can find no substitute for. If you use Powermill and SolidWorks could you afford to jettison both the considerable cost to own this stuff and then legacy file problems to boot? I think most will in all likelihood choose to subject themselves to being subscription hostages because in these lingering economic problems that have no end in sight who can afford to replace it all. I think it is with malign intent that these pieces of the puzzle are being assembled and put in place to make subscription chattel camps out of huge swathes of users in order to make more and predictable cash flows for companies like Dassault and Autodesk.
My friend swears that at the HSMWorks convention in Florida Bass told them all they had nothing to worry about with the cloud. To their credit I think they handled my friend far better than I expect Dassault or Siemens would have handled him. Siemens is so tight-fisted with promotions for the new CAMWorks for Solid Edge for instance that even though introducing a new product they have never really had a significant inducement to buy other than it is integrated with SE. The way they have acted with CW4SE I expect my buddy would have been told to cough up the dough or go. Contrast this to Autodesks serious financial commitments to existing HSMWorks SW users like the one made to my friend. But I also see Bass’s comments about going to the cloud and he has yet to make a unequvochal statement and guarantee to everyone in writing that this will never happen. As far as I am concerned on this topic he is talking out of both sides of his mouth until they can assemble a large enough and diversified enough purchased user base that there can be no escape for most. Welcome to the brave new world of rising uncontrollable expenses as a cost of doing business. And of course will this eliminate permanent seats and result in data hostages just to continue to do business? I don’t particularly trust either Dassault or Autodesk in this area and figure that they would do the same stuff Adobe has done to their users in a heart beat and as long as they get their money your data security is secondary.
This is the true power of permanent seats of software and any of you who move away from this model sow the seeds of your own destruction in many ways including the right to reserve to yourself only your own intellectual property. Read the fine print with the Adobe cloud stuff and see for yourself what they think of your intellectual property and insert Dassault and Autodesk in these sames types of EULAS if they can make this work.
So where are we Solid Edge and Siemens? So far of the big CAD CAM companies Siemens stands out as the only company that has publicly made the commitment that they will never force you to the cloud. They make stuff that works there but they will not force you there. Bass and Bernard and Sicot talk about programs based on forced cloud usage where to use something you have to go online. They say these things and I have quoted this stuff here before. You don’t believe me go research for yourself what the respective leaders of these companies are saying. Grindstaff of Siemens is the only one of these guys who says your choices and your autonomy will be preserved.
The big question for me here as a more than satisfied Solid Edge user is what is Siemens going to do to protect my interests here? CAM is essential as a part of a complete manufacturing ecosystem. CAD exists only to produce a method of communicating to the guys who make stuff and allowing their parts to speak to their CNC equipment or have prints on the shop floor. But without a complete manufacturing solution life is more difficult. NX IS NOT the answer for SE users and at this time only CAMWorks is. If they ever get on the ball, and finish this up and then do the right things to promote it both with incentives and publicity.
So far the incentives and the publicity have been really rotten for CW4SE and I bet sales are not all that good and it is a purely self inflicted wound. There are others who are waiting for it to be finished and just as good as CW4SW which is what we were promised it would be. And why is it that this has not happened and Geometric has no updates or comments to make for SE users?
When there are no answers and deadlines and missed and no one says squat about anything conjecture begins. A friend of mine and I were trying to figure this all out and wondered if perhaps things were at a screeching halt because Dassault was considering buying up Geometric? I think Dassault does take SE seriously as a competitor for SW and after watching the uproar about HSMWorks would they take a preemptive measure and make sure CW4SW stays in their hands? It would be pretty smart to wreck CW4SE before it has a chance to take off since SW is falling farther and farther behind the direct editing productivities of Solid Edge. The new territorial boundaries are being drawn and there are only a limited number of entities that can be absorbed and the rush is on to lock this stuff up. Siemens is really anal about meetings to decide to have a meeting where it is determined to have a meeting to decide on what they will discuss in that meeting but only after the meetings to determine a date subject to extenuating circumstances which may require more meetings. I don’t know how they get anything done. But right now they had better have a meeting that makes a decision on how they are going to combat these acquisition threats. Delcam was considered to be too big to be bought out and so was Geometric. After HSMWorks was stolen from SW Siemens was very aware of the risk of the same happening to them with Geometric and the lawyer arguing went on for a long time.
As I see it there are two things here to consider for SE and Geometric. Geometric apparently does not have the desire or talent to finish up CW4SE in a timely fashion and their public face for SE users is non-existent. So they first off need to be kicked in the butt to make things right. That is a given but even more importantly perhaps they should be bought out by SE/Siemens before they are gone to a competitor. I really hope the stipulation was made to Geometric that insofar as CAMWorks goes the entire CAMWorks suite would have to be offered to Siemens first as a condition of sale of the program or the company itself to any entity. I am sure there are better things they could find to do with the money but if they are going to step up into the big boy league of complete manufacturing from A to Z and compete head to head against arch rival SW they HAVE to do this or forever be an also ran. Who knows, at this rate even though Inventor stinks compared to SW and SE it still get things done and if they make the right packages available to people with the pieces they are assembling many will hold their noses and use Inventor anyway just to get the integration. If they would just stop that obsession with the cloud.
I don’t know about you other users out there but I hate uncertainty and I really hate uncertainty when it is my dollars at stake and in the hands of those whose response is “well just spend a bunch more and shut up about it all”. I am not happy that I have not been able to afford CW4SE by now but in light of all that is going on with buyouts and Geometric dragging their feet on their CW4SE commitments perhaps it has been to my benefit here. I want Siemens and SE to understand something here. I write about SE because I really like it and I truly believe it is the best MCAD program out there for what I do. But I hate that SE has been incomplete as a manufacturing solution. And now when I am considering spending money in short supply for CAM it is to a product whose future owership I am not certain of rather than buying a CAM product that belongs to Siemens and is not going anywhere. THAT is what would make SE complete in my eyes. The capability to buy integrated products that are not subject to Autodesk torpedoes.
I am getting to the point where I look forward to the day when I decide that I never need to buy another program or years maintenance again to see out the rest of my working career and if all these trends continue it may be sooner than later.