Отчет о конференции European Catia Forum во Франкфурте (Германия)
This year, Dassaut Systemes’ European Catia Forum moved from its traditional Euro Disney setting to Frankfurt. Martyn Day was there to report on the announcements and the ‘evolution’ of Dassault and IBM.
For the first time in as long as I can remember, Dassuat Systemes moved its yearly Catia showcase from its French heartland to another European state. Of course, Germany is a great choice for a company that specialises in Engineering and enterprise level software and possibly shows Dassault’s recognition that Germany is the key Engineering nation within Europe.
Getting to Frankfurt is usually not a problem but it just so happens that on the opening day of the event, there were strikes in France which grounded outbound flights, limiting the attendance from Dassault’s home country. From the numbers of people browsing the exhibition and partner area you would not have guessed that this had happened but it was obviously an unlucky event to coincide with Dassault’s key European diary date.
On my way out to the show I was wondering what to expect from Dassault Systemes this year. The constant running theme of the last umpteen ECFs was PLM and how PLM was changing the world. Dassault’s compelling CEO, Bernard Charles had staked the company’s future on the adoption of business process change technology, by deploying Catia V5, Enovia, SmarTeam and Delmia – so more of the same was a certainty. To complete on the vision of Digital mock-up and Virtual prototype, Dassault has been steadily acquiring technology like analysis tools and recruiting more partners to provide technology to Catia V5 customers. Dassault’s vision is big and bold but even Dassault would acknowledge that the journey has been long, technically difficult and expensive.
Prior to ECF this year, we had been privy to a number of meetings between Dassault and the press concerning channel and route to market. In September, Dassault announced it was taking control of the indirect channel from IBM and pushing sales of Catia (with associated products) to the SMB (Small to Medium sized businesses, sometimes called SMEs – Small to Medium sized Enterprises). This followed a similar announcement from UGS which introduced new product bundles, an intent to get more channel and a focus on the growing SMB market segment.
Dassault’s real expertise has been in the development of the engineering technology, relying on IBM for global sales and marketing. With a more hands-on approach coming from Paris, there were many questions to ask.
If ECF was an episode of Sesame Street, this year’s event was brought to you by the words PLM and Analysis. In many respects the focus was on the benefits that the Abaqus purchase will bring customers of Catia V5 and from two days of presentations and meetings I have to say, I believe the hype. It is stunning technology and delivers on the virtual prototype message that Dassault has been preaching for years. Non linear analysis can be used in almost any mechanical design and the power that Dassault has purchased, will apply equally well to automotive and aerospace. The Abaqus demonstrations were probably amongst the most professional I have witnessed and really stole the show for me.
If the European Catia Forum was an episode of Sesame Street, this year’s event was brought to you by the words PLM and Analysis
On stage, IBM and Dassault execs continued to preach the PLM message, together with a number of customers that have deployed design and process technology that has improved their businesses. Amongst the traditional areas of automotive and aerospace, one company talked of its use to design poultry processing machines. As birds come in all different shapes and sizes, these machines had to reflect that need and rather than always building custom solutions for each customer, the decision to opt for a Dassualt PLM solution had helped cut time, reduce cost and all those good things. While a ringing endorsement of PLM was given, I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that this was, in effect, a chicken killing machine, which lead my brain to muse about Poultry Lifecycle Management (PLM) and don’t even mention the whole bird flu.
If there’s one thing anyone took away with them, it was the power that the Abaqus purchase has added to the Dassault armoury and now the company has instigated a whole simulation development framework, called Simulia, which is tasked to produce the next generation of realistic 3D simulation.
In passing, Dassault and Microsoft announced V5 on Windows XP x64, as well as an agreement with IBM/Lotus to support 3DXML in Lotus Notes.
IBM and DS
The most intriguing element of the ECF gossip was the changes in relationships between IBM and Dassault. Recently, Dassault had taken over a number of Rand’s dealerships in Europe and so now had a direct route to customers. These dealers still operated within the IBM in-direct channel but were owned by the software developer. In June of 2005 rumours circulated that Dassault was going direct and breaking its 20 plus year relationship with IBM.
ECF provided many conflicting rumours and statements on what was happening between the two. From the exhibition floor, I was told of an alleged 18 month contractual work out between the two, together with a possible total split between Dassault and IBM in China. Talking to Dassault, splits were vehemently denied; instead talk was of an evolution in their partnership, with roles changing and Dassault taking a more active role in the marketing and sales of Catia to the market. IBM people were also reading from the same hymn sheet, with evolution high on the list of words used to describe the changes. A split between IBM and Dassault in China was confirmed, but only in that geography.
The new UK and European channel operation will be headed and managed by Dassault Systems, however, IBM will still have a role to play, continuing to manage and provide the back-office functions for the channel- order processing, credit checks etc. While talking with some Dassault personnel, it was suggested that the focus on the SMB customers was probably not best addressed by IBM, as it was perceived to be a high-end company, thus Dassault has stepped into shape and manage the channel, with IBM’s existing infrastructure as back up. IBM has been assigned mainly a large account management role.
On returning to the UK, I spoke with Mike Kuklenko, manager, PLM solutions, IBM North Region. Mike told me that the changes have come with a push to gain more market share. He claimed that IBM in the UK had grown significantly over the last 12-18 months, with March to June being the biggest ever quarter in terms of revenue. This has been done with PLM Express, growth within traditional customers and Aerospace has been particularly buoyant.
Mike added that these changes provided significant increase in resources in the SMB front line, with Dassault adding bodies and resources to IBM’s existing input but added that IBM would be able to re-allocate some of its personnel to new PLM opportunities, naming financial as one segment, although IBM will continue on a global basis to market and sell Dassault’s PLM portfolio, in agreement with Dassault.
Bringing up any thought that the IBM/ Dassault relationship was in some sort of trouble brought a swift and immediate reaction from any IBM or Dassault person. If not true, I think it fair to say that the explanation of the ‘evolution’ has been slow to come and poorly executed. If true, there was still tension and differences to be observed between Dassault’s and IBM’s approach to describing what had happened and why it had happened. From an outsider perspective, IBM will have a lower profile within the Catia channels and Dassault’s presence is most definitely in the ascendancy. It’s worth noting that Dassault is hiring either directly or is borrowing many IBM channel personnel.
I don’t think this is the exact split that IBM/Dassault’s competition were hoping for but it’s Dassault thinking it can do a better job of getting Catia to the SMBs than IBM, which has already had a go with its PLM Express bundle, which is an IBM product of Dassault Catia P1, SmarTeam, together with some IBM technology. Kuklenko told me this will be sold through the in-direct channel. Dassault representatives told me this was not the case and would be announcing its offering in a few weeks. However I can’t read too much into this as lack of communication between the two companies has been an ongoing feature for many years.
Below the surface
The same day as the Dassault press event, Autodesk somewhat stole the moment with the announcement that it had purchased Alias for around $182 million. This suddenly brought the focus on Dassault and its relationship with UK developer and surfacing expert, ICEM.
The market is boiling down into a fight between Autodesk, Dassault and UGS. Each has its strengths and weaknesses; it’s unusual for a mature market to be so interesting.
Autodesk and Dassault have a hate/hate relationship with both firms targeting each other above all others. The key battle ground being SolidWorks (a Dassault company) vs Autodesk Inventor. Autodesk missed out on purchasing SoldiWorks a number of years back, Dassault won the prize and has dominated the mid-range ever since. Autodesk had to develop its own tool, an expensive and long process. SolidWorks doesn’t have the easy ride it used to get but Autodesk has found the competition extremely tough going. Autodesk’s purchase of Alias perhaps shows the company’s intentions to get into automotive, Dassault’s home turf, and from my perspective the deal certainly ruffled some French feathers. There was some rumour that Dassault had been involved in a potential purchase of Alias some time earlier but it had not gone through. Should Autodesk rise to the challenge and keep Alias in the automotive arena, it will compete head to head with Dassault and its ICEM development partner. After the event, Autodesk confirmed to MCAD that it was very interested in the industrial and automotive design customer base that Alias had built up over the years.
The market is boiling down into a three way fight between Autodesk, Dassault and UGS. Dassault and UGS already have high-end products and customers, while Autodesk has lots of cash and big aspirations. UGS will attempt to go public which could make it cash rich and competitive on the acquisition trail. The battle is set at the mid-range, where functionality, channel, marketing and vision will be key deciders. Each of the three has its strengths and weaknesses; it’s unusual for a mature market to be so interesting.
Next month I will look deeper into Dassault’s Abaqus, Simulia and Virtools developments, together with some views form Dassault on their future market predictions.
ECF this year was perhaps more about delivering on the vision than anything. Success stories were aplenty and perhaps there was more exposure for CAA developers than in previous forums. Obviously the gossip concerning IBM and Dassault’s relationship was a constant, together with Autodesk’s foray into surface-based product design and automotive design.