Orlando, FLóIn the wake of EDS' May 23 acquisition of SDRC and UGS, many industry wags were worried about the consequences of rolling the companies' three CAD systems and two PDM platforms into a single application.
Even the speakers at SDRC's recent users' conference here were wary of the challenge: "The typical merger strategy today is to mate two dinosaurs and see if we get a gazelle," consultant and author Tom Peters said in his keynote address.
But executives at both firms insist that engineers who design with I-DEAS, Solid Edge, and Unigraphics don't need to worry yet about learning new CAD systems. The party line, voiced at this May 29 show and in a recent conference call, is that there will be little immediate change. The combined companies will maintain their current software lines for several generations, existing together under the umbrella of parent company EDS (Plano, TX), said SDRC's VP of Marketing and Business Development Bill Carrelli.
"I-DEAS users should expect no change," Carrelli said. "We'll release I-DEAS 9 in the fourth quarter, and I-DEAS 10 next year."
In the short term, SDRC (Milford, OH) and UGS (Maryland Heights, MO) will create an integration strategy between the CAD applications, allowing users to trade interoperable file formats. And in the long term, they will continue on the road to a CAD-neutral, component-based environment using Parasolid as a common kernel between Unigraphics, Solid Edge, and I-DEAS. Functions like assembly design, surface creation, and meshing would be applied as independent plug-ins.
"The market already knows that i-man and Metaphase are strong in different areas," Carrelli said. The former specializes in enterprise CAD data management, and the latter in PDM. In the new integration strategy, they will be able to share information through Accelis, SDRC's business integration tool.
In his keynote at the SDRC conference, Kleiner Perkins VC and former Oracle executive Ray Lane sounded another note of warning. "We've passed through the exuberant bubble, and now it's time to get serious about using the 'Net to fundamentally change business processes," he said. "The main challenge today is to link all the best-in-breed applications, because they're not quite open."
SDRC says it has already started down this road to integration with TeamCenter, a suite of collaborative product management (CPM) tools that launched in June. Built on Sun's Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) environment, TeamCenter is a web-native, CAD-neutral platform. And since it's component-based, engineers can use it for myriad aspects of collaborative design, such as requirements, design, configurations, documents, and business information.
CAD competitor IBM reacted to the merger news cautiously, saying the move was "good for the industry."
"We were delighted that another major company saw the same opportunities we did," says Rishi Madabusi, IBM's manager for product lifecycle management. IBM (IBM/Dassault, Burbank, CA) sees the merger as a confirmation of its own strategy in the area of product lifecycle management, and does not plan any changes in its marketing, sales, or implementation, he says. "EDS is a worthy competitor, so we're not going to sit on our hands, but from the CAD perspective, we don't see much of a threat," he says. "And hopefully we'll get rid of these 700 acronyms floating around, and simplify the market a little bit."
IBM plans to stick with its approach to expand the PDM circle beyond engineering departments: In the data management area, IBM will continue to push its suite of offerings for three different levels of users:
Despite IBM's cool reaction, the newly merged UGS/SDRC sound like they're spoiling for a fight. At the conference in Orlando, Carrelli pointed out that even without EDS, the combined companies had greater revenue than either PTC (Needham, MA) or Dassault Systemes (Suresnes, France). And SDRC chairman and CEO Bill Weyand said the merger would double SDRC's R&D funding, serve a combined 24,000 global customers, and control 40% of the world's digital product information.
Time will tell what these machinations mean for design engineers who use these software tools.
For more information about software from SDRC: Enter 536
Software from UGS: Enter 537
Software from Dassault: Enter 538