Dassault Systèmes Goes to the Cloud
Dassault Systèmes' V642014 goes beyond the design and engineering of individual objects to the entire user "experience."
“You don’t learn with static products. You learn from experience,” says Bernard Charles, member of the board, president, and CEO of Dassault Systemes (3ds.com). His comment neatly encapsulates the direction Dassault Systèmes is taking with its stable of software.
“The first time I came to Detroit,” says Olivier Sappin, Dassault Systèmes' vice president of transportation and mobility industry, “the only topics were how to shrink time-to-market and develop products quicker. Back then, [automakers] needed so much time, they could not compete with the Japanese. Everything else was second priority. [American automakers] have fixed that. Now they can spend time on the other challenges they face.” Take mechatronics, for example, products that combine mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems. Up to a point, continues Sappin, “people could manage the architecture of a system on a piece of paper because it was so simple. That’s impossible now.” Individuals, even small teams of engineers, need integrated, multi-domain, automated tools to develop mechatronic products.
The mechatronics example brings up another aspect of “experience” that should not be ignored. Think “beyond PLM.” Sure, says Charles, PLM addresses the way we build, design, produce, and maintain products, but “do you think PLM in its current scope can see the other side: How the owner of the car experiences the car? Do you think the owner of the car cares about how the
car was made?”
Therein is why Dassault Systèmes V6 brings simulation and visualization up front and center. “If you give an electronic job to a mechanical engineer, the odds are very high he won’t understand it,” says Charles. “But if you show him the experience, he understands it immediately. When that experience is presented in a truly cooperative, multi-discipline environment, people understand each other.”
Dassault Systèmes is also morphing Version 6 Release 2014 (V6R2014)—its integrated design, engineering, manufacturing, and PLM software—into cloud applications that act as a single business-experience platform: “the 3DExperience platform.”
Michel Tellier, Dassault Systèmes' vice president for the Aerospace & Defense (A&D) Industry, points out that “up to now, Dassault Systèmes has been building the `user experience’ versus the ‘enterprise experience.’ Now we’re building the `industry solution experience.’” (That applies to A&D as well as automotive.) “Catia is not a platform for actually deciding the detailed design of a system. It’s a platform for defining product as a system. The Catia system is a common language, a model of how all these systems integrate and behave together.”
V6R2014 will still be available in the conventional way—on-premise, on the user-company’s IT systems—but it will also be available on public and private clouds. Of course, cloud operations might not be for everyone. Explains Sappin, automotive OEMs today rely on very large, legacy systems running on on-site IT. “I would not say that these guys would not change one day, but for them to change from on-premises systems to a cloud-based solution would be a revolution. Our first goal is to bring a simple, out-of-the-box system to plenty of customers.”
Cloud-based applications have the attraction of being immediately available, usable, and easily adopted by customers. Asks Charles rhetorically, “How long does it take to install a PLM backbone in a company today? Maybe six months to a year? By the time you install the server, the local network, customize, and hire administrators, timing can make a big difference.” Namely, a company could lose its window-of-opportunity in the market.
Cloud-based V6R2014 is already in use. Tesla Motors (teslamotors.com) has been using Dassault Systèmes products for years now: Enovia for PLM in 2010; V6R2010 for design, engineering, and simulation, among other disciplines; and currently V6R2013. Tesla is “a technology company working in the automotive space,” explains Jack Brown, Tesla’s senior manager, applications support-PLM. It is a car manufacturer. It is also a battery technology company.
Tesla took advantage of Dassault Systèmes' Lighthouse program, which gave the company early access to the cloud version of V6R2014. Tesla, says Brown, “wanted to gain insight into V6R2014x functionality beyond `slideware’”—with minimal infrastructure investment.
Tesla is pleased. The personalized dash-boards across V6R2014 give people quick and easy access to information. Drag-and-drop dashboard widgets provide task notifications. Tesla can quickly and simply create and manage a virtualized collaborative space for its engineers and partners to work in. Tesla can monitor in real time the engineering status of various vehicle projects, both at the vehicle and the subproject (nested) levels. The company can even model task dependencies between various projects. This makes planning and managing resource assignments and understanding the effect of proposed changes on a project schedule a breeze. Simulations (what-if analysis) show the effect of proposed tasks on schedules and proposed changes to task durations. V62014’s support of supplier design collaboration lets Tesla connect suppliers to its data-base for real-time design collaboration. Supplier updates are instantly available for validation by Tesla. And vice versa: Tesla updates are instantly available to suppliers. Exchanging Catia V6 design data using 3DXML ensures secure access for suppliers while eliminating informal FTP/email exchanges. This secure access includes tracking uploads/downloads and an interactive tool for selective export/write access to design files. Incidentally, the cloud-based system also supports exchanging design files to Tesla suppliers still on Catia V5.
At the very least, says Brown, Tesla’s experience with V6R2014x was a “rapid kick off with no infrastructure burden enabled by cloud-based environment.”