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AKKA’s Link & Go autonomous vehicle was designed in the cloud with help from Dassault Systèmes.

Cloud computing gets more support, skepticism from design teams

Cloud computing can provide a quick way for companies to share design tools and shorten their development cycles, but many companies remain cautious about moving to the cloud. OEMs appear hesitant to adopt the new computing paradigm, though it’s being tried out by small and mid-sized suppliers.

Using the cloud can simplify data sharing, letting users from different companies and various geographies use files that are up to date since work is done on remote servers that store all changes to the project files. Costs can also be lower, since users don’t have to buy the hardware needed to support design and manufacturing models and drawings, which can be quite large.

Speakers at a recent Dassault Systèmes customer forum in Las Vegas highlighted some of the steps towards cloud computing. For example, AKKA Technologies, a European engineering consulting company, developed an autonomous vehicle with partners linked using the cloud.

“AKKA and Dassault partnered to show customers a new way to design a car using cloud-based collaboration,” said Olivier Sappin, Vice President of Transportation & Mobility Industry at Dassault. “AKKA’s Link & Go project demonstrated that capability and also displayed their ability to design an autonomous vehicle.”

Other companies are staying within corporate walls as they begin migrating to the cloud. Dura Automotive Systems, a Tier 1 that’s part of Patriarch Partners group, shares servers accessed by all the group’s 75 companies. Still, many of Dura’s customers are reluctant to use commercial cloud companies that have occasionally made the nightly news when breaches were discovered.

“We use our internal cloud extensively, but we work with a lot of OEMs who are not ready to go to the cloud” said Nizar Trigui, Chief Technology Officer at Dura. “Part of that is because of liability issues. Additionally, once data goes into the cloud, you lose some control. Companies need to look at data storage and the destruction of unwanted data.”

Speakers noted that large companies can afford to buy the hardware needed to complete designs and validate them in-house. However, small teams within larger enterprises may achieve some of the same benefits gained by smaller companies.

“Automotive OEMs may not care about the cloud, but small companies and some smaller groups within the automotive OEM are very interested,” Sappin said. “When they use the cloud, smaller operations can add capabilities without adding any infrastructure.”

In response to concerns over security and other aspects of data management, Dassault is building a cloud that will be accessible only to its customers. Security is an issue, but it can be managed by setting different levels of protection, according to Bernard Charlès, President of Dassault. He said that corporations that use the cloud will have control over which employees access files.

“The beauty of the cloud is that you always know who is touching what,” Charlès said.

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