The Old and the New

by Community Manager Community Manager on ‎08-06-2014 05:56 PM (33,804 Views)

In a previous article I wrote about how some aspects of our current ideas about the cloud are actually (in part anyway) resurrections of much older IT methods. It turns out that modern computing is borrowing other concepts from the 1960s and ‘70s. A recent Forbes article claims that a scientific study of 36,000 customer ratings of tech vendors over four years, provide hard proof of.... In specific, systems where hardware, software, and services are bundled into a single package delivered by a single vendor rather than sold as various layers that the buyer integrates on their own, the customer is happier with the end result.

 

Ideas change over time. In the 1970s, companies like Computervision delivered turn-key CAD systems, where they would install a computer system, usually including a central processor and multiple terminals, software to run on the system, and training and maintenance services. A series of changes from mini-computers to Unix workstations culminated in the PC revolution that changed the technical computing world forever. Or at least until those ideas swing back into vogue again.

 

Additionally, the mantra in the ‘90s was “Best In Class”. Hardware vendors and software vendors were specializing, and new startups were not crossing into the other territory. The dawn of the technical PC meant that software developers could focus on coding, and didn’t have to get involved with the hardware design, which was increasingly low-margin business. So you could buy the CAD software that best suited your needs, and the best FEA, and the best PDM, and so on. Inevitably, this started to consolidate, so that today we have PLM, which describes the entire suite of software offerings that a vendor creates related to product development.

 

Today we’re in the middle of another computing revolution, where the Personal Computer is giving way to the mobile device, whether phone or tablet. These devices have enough horsepower to replace almost anything an in-home PC used to do, but cannot yet replace technical business computers responsible for CAD and other complex requirements. We’ve been spoiled up until now. We’ve been able to get very high powered computers relatively inexpensively. But with the desktop/tower market falling because home users are buying mobile devices instead of desktop/tower/laptops, these machines will soon start to climb again in price, particularly the most powerful of them. Eventually, we are going to see the split come back between personal computing devices and professional computing devices. And when that happens, I’m guessing that software vendors are going to start buying hardware vendors again, and we will see the renewal of the turn-key PLM system where hardware and software is purchased from the same vendor.

 

On the other side of things, we have large monitors, which are a big requirement for CAD. Monitors and televisions have enough in common to keep the price of increasingly large monitors low.

 

This combination of things, where the compute power is going to become more expensive and the interface will remain relatively inexpensive is part of what is driving interest in pushing professional compute requirements to centralize (the cloud).

 

The Forbes article mentions the 2010 purchase of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, which has opened the door to SPARC-based high performance engineered systems optimized for storing data and running database oper.... The article also talks about Google and Apple mobile devices and the varying degree of integration between them. Based on the surging popularity of the Google model, which still keeps the development of hardware and software separate, and the relative lack of success of the Google Motorola purchase, I would say the momentum of integration will be slower than if the 100% integrated approach of Apple had won out. Larry Ellison credits Steve Jobs with pushing the integrated system for consumers, and Oracle pushed the philosophy more in the business to business direction.

 

Forbes: “Ellison credited his friend Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple at the time, with being out in front on this design philosophy: “He’s believed for a very long time that if you engineer the hardware and the software to work together, the overall user experience of the product is better than if you just do a part of the solution.”

Comments
by Siemens Phenom Siemens Phenom
‎08-07-2014 11:33 AM - edited ‎08-07-2014 11:35 AM

Since you're covering a bit of CAD/CAM history, for a closer look at how our history, at least the Unigraphics/NX side of the company, evolved, may I suggest that you drop by our 'Virtual Musuem' (since you're talking about hardware I would pay particular attention to the exhibits found in the 'Hall of Hardware'):

 

http://www.plmworld.org/p/cm/ld/fid=209

 

And if you're a real history buff, perhaps you'd like to see what CAD/CAM looked like in the early days, like say 1978 (yes, Unigraphics/NX has been around that long, in fact I've been using it since 1977), here's an old marketing film from United Computing, the company that originally developed Unigraphics:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9F5zIKuLBw

 

For a look at the progress we made in those early years, here's a slightly more recent video, from 1982:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shEXiKlf3Vg

 

Anyway, have fun...

 

John R. Baker, PE

Product 'Evangelist'

Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector

by Community Manager Community Manager
on ‎08-07-2014 12:16 PM

John,

 

Thanks for filling in some of the blanks! Very informative stuff.

by Phenom
‎08-08-2014 11:06 AM - edited ‎08-08-2014 11:06 AM

John,  Great video... brings back many memories.

 

I did some conceptual Designs for their next system(s) back in 1979 while working out in Santa Clara, CA as an Industrial Designer. I designed and made everything in ths picture from Foamcore and Wood, except for the Screens, keyboards, lights, switches, chairs and the cute female model.

 

I did that stle drafting too... oh to have had Solid Edge back then!

 

Here's a photo of my Model:

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