January 9, 2017
A long-time SOLIDWORKS Certified Solution Partner, EpiGrid has been offering cloud-hosted SOLIDWORKS PDM solutions. The company’s recent announcement marks its move to also offer SOLIDWORKS MCAD program in the cloud.
Chad Garrish, EpiGrid’s chief technical officer, says, “We are the only SOLIDWORKS service partner offering cloud and managed services for CAD and PDM. Our cloud-based services and VDIs have significant benefits for clients, saving them time and money, reducing I.T. headaches, and increasing performance accessibility.”
The data associated with PDM and PLM is usually lightweight, textual, and numerical in nature; therefore, delivering such systems from the cloud is straightforward. Much like cloud-hosted enterprise resource management (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), cloud-hosted PDM and PLM products are now the norm among small and midsize manufacturing organizations.
By contrast, engineers use CAD programs to regularly churn out graphics-intensive 3D assembly models. Delivering a full-blown CAD program’s functionalities from the cloud involves considerable technical challenges and hurdles. The usage paradigm is also new to the sector that has historically relied on professional workstations to run CAD. Therefore, user acceptance of cloud-hosted CAD is not always guaranteed.
SOLIDWORKS, the company behind the widely used SOLIDWORKS MCAD software, offers short-term software licensing as subscriptions. It does not, however, offer cloud-hosted, browser-based CAD in the style of Onshape, founded by former SOLIDWORKS talents.
Therefore, to run SOLIDWORKS in the cloud, you’ll need the software license as well as a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) subscription, which gives you access to a remotely accessible virtual workstation. EpiGrid plans to work with established SOLIDWORKS value-added resellers (VARs) to offer a combination of software licenses and VDI products. Currently, it’s partnering with GPU maker AMD to deliver graphics acceleration in its VDI packages.
The VDI, which is configured to offer a professional workstation’s compute capacity from the cloud, eliminates the need for the users to install and use the software on a professional-grade hardware. If bandwidth issues do not hamper performance, users may access the VDI from inexpensive lightweight mobile devices to run CAD programs from the cloud.
EpiGrid VDI solutions are not based on public cloud (such as Amazon or Google). The company relies on its partner Lume to manage and maintain its private cloud infrastructure. Explaining the company’s pricing for VDI offers, EpiGrid’s PR department says, “The starting cost for a reasonably configured CAD VDI with GPU is $150/month. This includes unlimited hours.”
Update: EpiGrid and SOLIDWORKS reseller Converge recently struck a partnership, allowing Converge to launch cloud-hosted SOLIDWORKS CAD and PDM solutions.