SolidWorks World 2011: New Chief Set Record Straight on Cloud Strategy

SolidWorks World 2011 opens with a Spaghetti Western-inspired shootout, featuring Jeremy Luchini, host of the Let's Go Design series (http://www.solidworks.com/pages/programs/letsgodesign).

SolidWorks World 2011 opens with a Spaghetti Western-inspired shootout, featuring Jeremy Luchini, host of the Let's Go Design series (http://www.solidworks.com/pages/programs/letsgodesign).

The

SolidWorks World 2011 opens with a Spaghetti Western-inspired shootout, featuring Marie Planchard, director of SolidWorks Education.

Texas-native Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks for the past 7 years, says farewell to dedicated SolidWorks fans.

Texas-native Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks for the past 7 years, says farewell to dedicated SolidWorks fans.

Outgoing CEO Jeff Ray welcomes his successor Bertrand Sicot.

Outgoing CEO Jeff Ray (right) welcomes his successor Bertrand Sicot (left)

PrintThe first thing SolidWorks‘ new CEO Bertrand Sicot did when he stepped up to the stage at SolidWorks World 2011 was to put to rest, once and for all, speculations about the future of its desktop CAD software.

“It will never be an either-or choice for you,” he said. “We will always offer locally installed desktop CAD. In the end, the market will tell us [what it wants] … the market is you.”

The comment drew a burst of applause, perhaps prompted by relief as well as delight.

Last year, when the company revealed its plans to investigate — and eventually develop — online services and cloud-hosted software, it unintentionally set in motion a series of reactions among some desktop loyalists. SolidWorks subsequently clarified that R&D works in cloud-hosted software didn’t mean the end of installed software.

“Now you’re probably asking: Is 3D CAD going to become an online application tomorrow? I don’t think so. I don’t think tomorrow, or anytime soon, you’re going to do everything you do in SolidWorks online. I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” said John Hirschtick, the company’s cofounder, during a virtual event called SolidWorks Innovation Day 2010. More recently, when Bertrand Sicot officially took the reins, he wrote in his debut blog post, “We’ll have three platforms — desktop, mobile, and online.”

His latest public pledge to preserve SolidWorks on desktop, made before the assembly at SolidWorks World in San Antonio, Texas, this Monday, was one more in a series of measures the company had taken to stem the tide of anxiety among desktop fans. In other words, a eulogy for the desktop version of SolidWorks is entirely unnecessary; the company isn’t planning to kill it any time soon.

Winning Hearts and Minds
Sicot’s first challenge may be to secure the trust of some SolidWorks users who are under the impression that a French invasion is imminent. As parent company Dassault Systemes, headquartered in the Paris suburb Velizy-Villacoublay, began to show a greater interest in the SolidWorks franchise, some SolidWorks factions voiced concerns that the takeover might change the character of their beloved engineering software. The fact that the new CEO, who succeeded Texas native Jeff Ray, happened to be French was bound to raise more red flags.

But the truth is, Sicot wasn’t a hand-picked Dassault insider. He was originally hired by SolidWorks, one of a handful of Europeans recruited by the company’s founders in 1997. In other words, Sicot, like early adopters of SolidWorks, took a chance on a fledgling American CAD company with his career. He was a SolidWorks loyalists. Will this revelation stop conspiracy theorists preparing to resist the advances of Napoleon’s Grand Army? Let’s hope so. Otherwise, a lot of valuable times could be wasted fighting the wrong war.

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2 Responses to SolidWorks World 2011: New Chief Set Record Straight on Cloud Strategy

  • dave Ault says:

    Mr Sicot has admited to a fundamantal error in how they are going to approach and handle the future of SW. This is also true of every other cad company that is getting side tracked from the original intent of design software which is oddly enough to design. When the problems of basic geometry creation have been solved then go for peripheral technology. There is not one thing more dear and valuable to a cad users heart than the idea that some company will one day put reliable geometry creation before it’s users where they can sit down to predictable bug free programing, create whatever their needs are and not sit in fear of when to save or why did it blow up this time or OK I know it did not work but why can’t the program tell me why what I just tried failed.

    I have two versions of software that I use and I resent that as a cad user what I end up buying is that which has the problems I can best live with.

    Don’t show me your new ribbon bar, your unfinished implementation of the NEW WAY where I have to pay to be a beta tester for you, your cutsey unreliable pie in the sky web garbage just show me a program that flat out works without complications. Is it asking to much?

  • Bob Mileti says:

    The only “Silver Lining” to this Cloud, will be done with their customers “silver”, in order to line the pockets of the CAD Companies.

    This is nothing more then another attempt to sell subscriptions and get off of licenses. CAD companies loose a lot of sleep dreaming of all those “forced” upgrades they’ll stick you with every year! But what will be their incentive to constantly innovate and improve their product… nothing!

    Most of us are already stuck somewhat because switching from our existing CAD software is so cost prohibitive. What happens when they turn off your subscription for not paying?

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