Engineering the future of SaaS

I have always believed that the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) world can learn lessons from application of technologies in other market sectors, and so it is gratifying to see that debates about moving design applications to a Software-as-a-Service model are also alive in the mechanical engineering world. I have just been reading an MCADonline article by Dr Peter Collins (right), CEO of UK-based company dezineforce – which aims to become the first global player to offer a fully integrated, SaaS-based engineering design optimisation service. (Regular readers will know that I have talked about the potential for AEC design applications to go SaaS-y several times – see BIM, the project information cloud and an AEC ‘Cluetrain’, for example.)

Delivered over the internet, Dezineforce can be accessed from anywhere in the world, by whomever the subscribing company chooses, facilitating collaboration between teams at different locations, he says. It has immediate advantages:

“Instant availability means subscribers can immediately focus on designing, rather than wasting time time in the definition, acquisition and configuration of commodity technology. Inbuilt flexibility of use enables immediate and essentially infinite availability to grow capacity in response to demand. No more the dilemma of whether to invest in additional capacity before winning the design contract, or losing delivery time after the win while procuring that capacity.”

Interestingly, he quotes research from Catalyzt (not to be confused with the online magazine of the almost same name, Cadalyst) that showed the SaaS approach was significantly less expensive than conventional approaches to computer-based design for companies engaged in the design of components, sub-systems and complete systems:

At low volumes, the cost is typically 40 percent less than that of conventional design approaches. At higher volumes, it rises to a massive 70 percent saving through multi-user exploitation of IT resource, including licences, hardware and support, higher designer productivity and better risk management.

Looking at Dezineforce’s website, it seems that its technology is already attracting some interest from businesses involved in the AEC sector; Arup was announced last November as a new subscriber to the service.

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