In the near future, many more firms will be embracing cloud-based CAD systems, with adoption of the CAD delivery method set to grow by 70 percent in the year ahead and by 164 percent within the next five years. That’s the finding of a survey conducted in November 2015 by the Business Advantage Group, a market research and consultancy firm that follows CAD and product lifecycle management trends.
The survey found that 11 percent of respondents currently use a CAD system that resides on vendor servers; aka, in the cloud. By this year’s end, around 19 percent say they expect to be designing with a cloud-based CAD system. That number should rise to 29 percent within the next five years, according to the survey.
The survey sampled 610 CAD users and decision makers across a global range of companies of different sizes and across industries, according to a statement from Business Advantage Group. About 180 respondents already use or plan to use cloud-based CAD software.
“Clearly cloud-based CAD continues to be an area of interest in today’s market,” said Chris Turner, Business Advantage managing director.
CAD users’ interest in a cloud-based model is mirrored across many industries that use various types of software accessible via the cloud. Market research firm IDC expects sales of cloud software to surpass $100 billion by 2018, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 21.3 percent. That company predicts subscription-based software-as-a-service delivery model—another name for cloud-based delivery–will significantly outpace traditional styles of software delivery, growing nearly five times faster than the entire software market and accounting for $1 of every $5 spent on software by 2018.
CAD in the cloud differs from cloud-based licensing, in which software subscriptions are managed in the cloud while the software continues to operate on local machines. Cloud-based CAD systems house the entirety of the system on vendor servers. While users access the software on their local desktops or mobile devices, the software doesn’t exist on those devices; it resides on distant servers.
Though computer-aided design software is increasingly moving to a cloud-based, subscription-service model, the roughly $9 billion CAD market remains very fragmented, Jon Hirschtick, Onshape founder, has said. His three-year-old company recently released what Hirschtick said is the first fully cloud-based three-dimensional design software.
Worth noting: 58 percent of respondents to the Business Advantage survey were aware of cloud-based CAD, a number that included users of all levels, including managers, executives, and everyday engineering and design users.
Those who already use or plan to use cloud-based CAD are interested because the software is mobile, they said. That is, it can be accessed from various locations on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. They also cite cloud-based software’s updating ease–vendors automatically update the software—and its increased storage capacity. Companies can ramp up storage on vend0r servers without purchasing additional means of storage onsite.
Desktop software must be continually updated, which can make for compatibility issues, Hirschtick said.
“With CAD software on the desktop, users are stuck with problems around getting everyone a copy of the CAD system and the CAD data,” he said, “When you have copies of the software all over the place, people end up with different software versions and different CAD data files and they worry about overriding change and where the latest version is.”
Survey respondents also said cloud-based CAD offers better scalability—that is, additional users can be added or quickly.
Respondents from the architecture, engineering, and construction industry were most interested in cloud-based CAD’s increased mobility, perhaps because users from that sector take CAD designs into the field more often than do manufacturers.