In this blog series, we will discuss how SOLIDWORKS users are leveraging the Cloud. The Cloud is one of the cornerstones of Converge, and we've spent years pioneering CAD in the Cloud™. We'll first discuss what options are currently available that will free your office from the chains of the local server. Converge is the premier reseller of EpiGrid Cloud-hosted services, and we will discuss each available option more in depth.
Even today, after almost two decades of Cloud-computing, there seems to be some confusion about what exactly the Cloud is. We aim to illuminate what it is and can be for CAD users over the course of this blog series. In the strictest sense, the Cloud is just a collection of computer resources—usually servers—that work in concert to host data, application, or both in an off-premise location with connectivity to any given group of users through a secure connection, usually over the internet.
Here's another way of putting it: Use the tools you need—CAD or otherwise—but instead of buying hardware that will eventually fail and need to be replaced, someone else (EpiGrid in our case) will buy the hardware, house it in a secure environment, and you will be renting the Cloud-hosted infrastructure that will always be up-to-date.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a category of Cloud-computing that adds another layer of software to the rental fee. In this model, you're not only renting the storage space and computing resources, but also the software to perform a specific task. There are only a couple of SaaS players in the CAD world, but none with the power and user-base of SOLIDWORKS. We'll devote some time to SaaS in its own article later in the series.
PDM in the Cloud
Cloud-hosted Product Data Management (PDM) has been an EpiGrid core competency for over six years. Typically, a PDM vault would reside on a local server and the design team would access the vault over a company intranet or, more often, the internet. This was the most logical first step to host an aspect of SOLIDWORKS workflow in the Cloud. Instead of installing the vault locally, EpiGrid began installing PDM vaults in the Cloud. Due to the predictable costs and performance plus the security companies demand for their intellectual property, we've determined that the best possible user experience occurs on a private Cloud. That's why we've invested heavily in our private CAD Cloud infrastructure to accommodate the PDM data of thousands of users.
You're connected to your vault through a secure VPN client and, from the end user's perspective, nothing changes from the traditional model. The local view is still cached to the client PC, so check-in/check-out actions happen as you expect, no matter where the main vault is located. Our customers have proven this solution time and again whether the user is in North America, Asia, Europe, etc.
CAD in the Cloud
The Cloud-hosted solution that we're most excited about at the moment is the GPU-enabled VDI workstation. Historically, since SOLIDWORKS requires a high-powered graphics processing unit (GPU) to process CAD graphical data, server architecture was inadequate for a hosted Virtual Desktop Instance (VDI). However, with the introduction of NVIDIA's Tesla server GPU, a fully functional virtual workstation for CAD is possible.
With a Cloud-hosted VDI, you have the ability to log into a workstation capable of modeling, simulating, rendering, etc. from anywhere with an internet connection. This is truly mobility with power, as you can travel with a tablet, log into your VDI on site, and make real changes to your SOLIDWORKS models. When used in conjunction with a Cloud-hosted PDM vault, this system can take your CAD workflow entirely out of your office, relieving your company of that entire IT burden.
Converge is the only SOLIDWORKS reseller offering CAD in the Cloud options. CAD in the Cloud is the hub of our business, and every spoke in the wheel has some tie to the Cloud. If you or your company has a Cloud initiative, or are just curious about how the Cloud can save your engineering department time and money, give us a call today. With Cloud solutions tailored to fit any company of any size, Converge truly is your CAD in the Cloud reseller.