Here at Converge, we've adopted the Cloud as a means to facilitate collaboration and data distribution using our existing CAD tools, namely SOLIDWORKS. We provide and implement EpiGrid Cloud-hosted services to help you eliminate IT burdens when trying to solve the difficult problems of data management and collaboration. However, with a seemingly endless amount of Cloud providers, why should you choose EpiGrid over household names like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft's Azure, or even DropBox?
This topic is near and dear to EpiGrid as development of these Cloud-hosted CAD services required a hosting provider for it to work. That is requirement number one and all options were on the table initially. Think of the Cloud-hosting provider as the server AND the IT staff to manage the server. The equivalence can be drawn to any on-premise server your business currently uses - there is a cost for the server hardware and the maintenance of it.
Just like your internal IT support of those server infrastructures, Cloud-hosting providers have varying levels of integration and support. The household names, such as AWS, Azure, and Dropbox all provide a Cloud-hosted architecture that can be used with SOLIDWORKS to varying degrees, but the fundamental difference between these options and EpiGrid is the notion of a Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud.
In a Public Cloud, server resources such as processors, RAM, and even HD storage are shared with individuals from massive server farms with seemingly infinite resources. This type of Cloud is great for housing and sharing simple office documents as PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. are neither complex nor large documents. However, CAD data is far more complex, with multiple file references, toolbox files, imported files, multiple revisions of files, etc. This is where a simple Cloud solution like DropBox breaks down, as it struggles to manage the intricacies of complex file relationships.
Luckily, SOLIDWORKS has tools designed to manage the complexities of CAD data. We've been evangelizing SOLIDWORKS PDM for years, and it provided the link necessary to leverage the Cloud in the context of an engineering office environment. With PDM, a Cloud-server can be spun up just like an on-premise server, and a PDM Standard or Professional vault can be deployed to it. If only it were that easy.
This is where the differences of Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud come into play. In the end, EpiGrid decided to invest in a Private Cloud infrastructure for the following reasons that we'll cover on our blog in greater depth over the next few weeks:
- Predictable Pricing
- Security and Compliance
- Management of the solution