For the third time this month (following SolidWorks and CADaaS, 2 March, and BIMserver.org: right technology, right time?, 3 March), I return to one of my favourite topics: delivering computer-aided design (CAD) solutions on a Software-as-a-Service model.
I received an email from someone at an Israeli business development group, Trendlines. My correspondent had read my December 2008 post about AfterCAD and urged me to look at VisualTao, helpfully giving some links to a demo of the product (geospatial dataset, engineering details, floor plan), and explaining:
“Unlike AfterCAD which allows you to view an image of the CAD file, VisualTao allows multiple users to collaborate and edit a dwg file in real time using a web browser. As a SaaS, VisualTao doesn’t require any downloading of files to the computer, thereby allowing for the real-time streaming and creating a secure environment.”
Looking at the website and the online tutorial, the solution appears to allow users to collaborate upon, edit and then save AutoCAD files (there was no sign, however, that this was a solution for authoring CAD drawings from scratch).
Largely focused on AutoCAD (no mention of Bentley or other CAD vendors), VisualTao is certainly plugging its SaaS credentials, being hosted on Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing platform, claiming 99.95% availability and a total cost of ownership that is a quarter of on-premise solutions (a figure I quoted in February last year). Some of the functionality (email upload, 3D design support) is still in development, and the site is skimpy on details about the company or any deployments of its solution, but I am hoping to get more details shortly. I believe, however, the company was previously known as PlanPlatform, a start-up which closed a $500k funding round in January 2008 (there is also an unrelated PlanPlatform spyware application – maybe this prompted the name change?).