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What is Cloud Computing?


Created by Sam Johnston from Wikipedia

There are quite a few CAD people talking about cloud computing in 2010. It’s a term that has been extremely overused (kind of like “social media” ) so I thought a quick post might help lift the fog wink

Acording to Wikipedia, “The term ‘cloud’ is used as a metaphor for the Internet”. There are a number of more tangible technologies that make up Cloud computing with names like SaaS, HaaS/IaaS, Web services, SOA, MSP, and Web 2.0. For this post, lets keep things simple and avoid the acronyms and fancy names.

Below is a short youtube video that explains cloud computing in a simple and direct way.

I’ll also point you to a simple “How Stuff Works” article which explains a bit why cloud computing is useful.

Of course, as with most things ,cloud computing creates some concerns. In Ira WInkler's "The Real Problem With Cloud Computing", he says “Cloud computing puts your data outside of your organization”. He is concerned with security and levels of control that may be missing in a Cloud bases solution.

After security, the next concern is the network. Moving data between your computer /network device to the cloud takes more time than moving to your local harddrive. Applications need to make efficient use of the bandwidth and/or networks need to be upgraded to support the greater volume of data and higher levels of reliability. These problem lead to a trust problem that has slowed cloud computing in its early years. However, IMHO, trust is building and Gartner has identified it as one of 2010 top strategic Technologies.

Now I haven’t really touched on what this all means to PLM and CAD. It something that does come up in many discussions and I think that its going to be an interesting topic for 2010. So stay tuned…

Not applicable

Doesn’t every PLM system has some kind of cloud system?

Further implementation is needed but nothing really new.


I guess it depends what you mean.  For example, I know Solid Edge has some SOA built into it for accessing Teamcenter. I guess some would say that is kind of “cloudish”. 

On the other hand, if someone said “I want to do CAD in the cloud” I don’t think they are saying they just want more PDM.

Anyone else want to jump in on what CAD in the cloud should be?

PLM World Member Genius

Hi Mark

All that cloud made me think about early 90’s where Netpc or network computing ( or similar name) was propose.

Peoples would have a screen and plug to that screen thru USB ( or similar connection) keyboard, mouse, USB drive and printer.

Then a cable will run from the screen to the wall ( the cloud)

When running, only the application data are transfert to your screen, ( oppose to the web where information travel) your data are safe on the external drive and do not travel between the cloud and the client.

However, back then, the network connection/speed was the weak point of the chain.

For PDM, PLM in the cloud, i think we are more reading data then processing it. Meaning information is in the cloud but the process is on the client side.

To be completely in the cloud data and processing need to be in a remote/central location; and by central i don’t mean a single unit but more several smaller units working in parallel

Trekkies knows this concept as a borg units..grin

Not applicable

This got me to thinking and I posted some ideas on my blog at . More to follow.


Thank Ray,

There were a few good posts on Cloud computing and how it might impact the CAD and PLM world in February.

Jim Brown at Tech Clarity had a good one here:

I also heard the SolidWorks bloggers started a drinking game for every time the word “cloud” was said at their last conference. They pumped out a bunch of posts which are good reading.

Not applicable

Nice post, Mark.  I don’t like some of the definitions of cloud computing out there today because they leave no room for things like private, hybrid, and community clouds (all of which are very relevant when we talk about clouds and PLM content).  I guess I am trying to say that I don’t think “cloud” and “private”/“secure” are mutually exclusive.  I am by no means a cloud expert, but from what I understand of private, hybrid, and community clouds, this is exactly the kind of thing that “PLM-on-the-cloud” needs.  I put together my thoughts on this here: