The complexity of design and the need to customize products, coupled with the increasing need for engineers across different geographies to collaborate gave birth to a trend that\u2019s redefining automotive manufacturing \u2013 CAD on cloud.\u00a0While processes changed, the tools supporting the processes haven\u2019t. Many are still based on technology that was built 20 years ago. An estimated $8-$9 billion is spent on CAD and product design tools annually. The total market value of the top four companies in this space is close to $40 billion.\u00a0It\u2019s a huge market, there\u2019s no mistaking that, and yet, the tools that are being used by millions of engineers globally mostly run on \u00a0Windows desktops. There\u2019s no leveraging of cloud, web, or mobile, or any new platform to help solve these problems.\u00a0Naysayers were quick to point out how cloud-based CAD is a mirage, and can never materialize, and they weren\u2019t just spinning yarn. Issues with bandwidth, compatibility, security, and control are all very valid concerns. Companies, however, have been able to address these challenges, and the industry couldn\u2019t be happier to welcome this change.\u00a0Abdul Majeed, partner at PwC, said that he believed CAD on cloud will be adopted at a faster rate in developed economies, when compared to developing ones. However, he added that he doesn\u2019t see a challenge from the customer-acceptance point of view. \u201cPeople are slightly concerned about security, regulations, and the ability to integrate with existing frameworks. But this concept will eventually come through in the automotive industry.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0Onshape, a cloud-based CAD company, anticipated this change, and put one CAD system and the data in the cloud, which could be accessed from any device, from any place in the world. This makes it the only company currently offering a full-cloud 3D CAD system.\u00a0John McEleney, co-founder and CEO of Onshape, was previously the CEO at SolidWorks, a noted name in the 3D CAD space. \u00a0Discussing the rationale behind the birth of Onshape, he said, \u201cWe saw the opportunity to say whether we can really change and deliver new tools for people to help them deal with the complexities of design and manufacturing processes.\u201d\u00a0Similar to the platform shift from UNIX to Windows, there\u2019s another major platform shift in the manufacturing and design space, and that is cloud, web, and mobile.\u00a0\u201cThe lesson we learnt from the past is to find the people who understand that the status quo is actually very dangerous for them \u2013 that they must look towards the future to help their overall design process. So, we look for early adopters and people who embrace cloud, web, and mobile, and build a coalition of support amongst that. We don\u2019t focus on people who are technology-laggers. They\u2019ll come in time,\u201d said McEleney.\u00a0\u00a0What makes manufacturers skeptical about adopting new technologies\u00a0At the heart of it is the fact that when something works, they want to stick with it. Another reason being building a system that works on the cloud is really very hard.\u00a0\u00a0One of the primary concerns, of course, is security of the data. So, a public cloud may not be totally suitable for hosting design data. Secondly, CAD requires high end workstations, so you\u2019d need very high computing power. Not all cloud providers may be able to offer such computing resources.\u00a0\u201cWhat you need to consider, though, is that if you\u2019re using the cloud, then collaboration becomes much easier, both within the company, and outside of it,\u201d explained Sri Karumbati, CIO \u2013 Stumpp, Schuele & Somappa Springs.\u00a0\u00a0\u201cRight now, there\u2019s a lot of collaboration between companies across different geographies. So, my customer and I can work on the same CAD model. This gives us endless possibilities. In my opinion, if you add up all this, then the economics will be in favor of moving to the cloud,\u201d he added.\u00a0\u00a0Karumbati also revealed that it\u2019s only a matter of time before SSS Springs migrated its CAD applications to the cloud.\u00a0Majeed emphasized the need for OEMs to move fast. \u201cIf they do not evolve, or make technological advancements, a third party may jump in to displace them.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0Being one of the early birds in the sortie, Hero MotoCorp moved its design data to the cloud over three years ago \u2013 at a time when most companies were still grappling with the concept of cloud-based CAD.Discussing the growing acceptance of public clouds, Vijay Sethi, CIO at Hero MotoCorp said that cloud as a concept has matured a lot over the last few years. \u201cThere was this initial apprehension about cloud security. But to a large extent, companies whether large or small, have accepted the public cloud,\u201d he said.However, Sethi said that the industry hasn\u2019t yet opened up to \u2018trust falling\u2019 when it comes to cloud adoption. \u201cOne thing a lot of companies haven\u2019t yet touched is the R&D area, for instance PLM (product lifecycle management) and CAD or CATIA tools,\u201d he added.\u201cOne more trend that is gaining ground globally is collaboration. A lot of companies are collaborating with partners all across the globe for R&D. Now, when you\u2019re partnering across the globe, the feature that helps you most is if your data is at a place where it can be accessed by everyone, and at all times. And this is where, the cloud plays a key role,\u201d explained Sethi.Today all companies want to innovate and have a faster development cycle. And for that, CAD on cloud is a fantastic solution.Confronting security, bandwidth, and compatibilityOne of the primary challenges is security. So, one has to take measures to ensure that data is secure, and this can be easily mitigated by building security layers.The second hurdle is that the volume of data associated with CAD files is way more than other forms, such as text or email. "You need to ensure that your bandwidth availability is reasonably decent, because you shouldn\u2019t be wasting time in only trying to access files,\u201d observed Sethi.However, he believes there are features available today to ensure that only the relevant part of the data is transmitted between the server and the client.\u00a0\u00a0If you think about moving around monolithic CAD files, it does require a lot of bandwidth and storage.Onshape, however, decided to look at things a little differently. Your CAD systems and your data is in the cloud. So, you wouldn\u2019t be hogging up bandwidth synchronizing data \u2013 It\u2019s always synchronized.\u201cSo, you\u2019re not always sending down huge amounts of data down the pipeline. What we\u2019ve done ensures that you\u2019re sending only a small amount of data back and forth. This makes the performance seem real-time, and gives you the impression of working on a desktop-based or a local application,\u201d explained McEleney.A lot of CAD work involves viewing, manipulation, and selection of design files. A lot of that is done at the local GPU. Once this is done, the data can be sent to the cloud very quickly. \u201cAnd that\u2019s what gives us the ability to work perfectly fine in an environment like an office Wi-Fi. As a matter of fact, if you can stream Netflix, you can run Onshape,\u201d he added.\u00a0Onshape, by not brute-forcing the data, and sending only what it needs to send, is able to overcome challenges posed by bandwidth.What about compatibility with legacy systems and ownership?\u201cWhen we started this company, one of our first principles was that we needed to basically be able to plug in to the existing environment and work seamlessly. So, if somebody has investment in CATIA, or SolidWorks, or Autodesk, we plug in and work with all our data seamlessly,\u201d said McEleney.One of the principle requirements of the industry is the need to collaborate and co-innovate. In the current state, engineers use their CAD software and save files on their local drives. Now, when the need for sharing these files arises, they use e-mail.But, people don\u2019t necessarily realize how risky this system is. Because now, there\u2019s a copy of the file on the e-mail server. This could give rise to multiple copies existing on various servers and drives.The one thing you want to do to ensure security is to minimize the attack area. \u201cWith Onshape, you share a link, and essentially, it\u2019s almost like we send the CAD system to you. The data doesn\u2019t move, and every transaction can be tracked. We can monitor these transactions, and provide analytics on who accessed the files, and where,\u201d said McEleney.So now, you also have traceability, and you know who has accessed what file, and what modifications had been made.