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Cloud-based services are certainly nothing new, and they have been growing at a phenomenal rate, but there still remains a gnawing reluctance that prevent some prospective users from embracing the cloud – security.

One of the most compelling reasons to switch from a traditional on-premise PDM to a cloud-based alternative is that services support virtually any office or engineering application and is data neutral/agnostic, especially important for CAD files. As important, however, is the fact that cloud-based PDM alternatives are inherently secure when compared to traditional data storage methods. When prospective customers are investigating PDM alternatives, they should consider their engineering use-case that will help narrow the search for the best solution.

For example, traditional PDM servers in a corner are subject to theft and many types of damage, which can be catastrophic if a company’s most valuable asset, information and IP, are lost. Employees usually don’t hang around forever, and can take vital data, intentionally or by accident, on company USB thumb drives and laptops. IT mishaps where data is erased or overwritten are not unheard of. Email remains an important communication medium, but what happens if a crucial engineering file is sent to a person who should not be receiving it? Finally, as ubiquitous as social media has become, it is hardly suited for sharing important files securely, and this includes consumer-grade data storage products.

These and other security concerns surrounding traditional PDM/data storage method are not concerns with a true cloud-based PDM alternative.

When discussing engineering use-cases with clients large and small, several positive aspects of our product, Kenesto, and GrabCAD come to mind. Because users are concerned about security we can ensure the absolute integrity of their data. Data encryption is the highest priority on the list and includes both the file name and path. Permission settings on files and folders are probably second on the list, but as importantly, how quickly a service provider can lock a user out of their login should that be required for any number of reasons. The critical idea behind using the cloud is the ability to lock your IP in a safe black box location that not everyone can access unless needed. Prospective customers looking for a secure cloud offering should consider the following before making a purchasing decision:

  1. Protect Data and IP – In any industry the protection of data is critical. When considering whom you grant access to, think it through carefully. It is critical to give permission access to only those who really need it.
  2. Locked Files – This may seem somewhat trivial, but locking files for editing is an expensive disaster when someone overwrites a file, no backup is available, or there is no way to revert to an earlier version of a file quickly.
  3. Access Control – Granting access and visibility to project data without granting control of documents is becoming more popular. For example, when you invite marketing or purchasing to view documents early on in a project does not necessarily mean you need to give them control of those documents.
  4. Data Encryption – Content of files must be encrypted in today’s competitive environment, minimizing the possibility of data theft or unauthorized modification.
  5. Version Control – This is a hot topic, one of the key problems in some engineering disciplines, and is why organizations adopted on-premise PDM in the past. The cloud is now presenting new opportunities for users with relatively inexpensive secure alternatives.
  6. 3D Printer control and remote management – When submitting designs to a remote 3D printing service, you must be assured it is going to the proper intended place securely so designs are not intercepted or copied. In other words, the more secure the path, the less likely a design will be compromised.

A cloud-based PDM alternative goes far beyond server data storage and provides not just a secure platform, but also a 24/7 collaborative platform. This opens up the opportunity to work around the world around the clock for accelerating project development.

Every product designer or engineer knows all too well that working with a wrong file can be expensive, and CAD is notorious for this occurring.

Today, the benefits of storing your data in the cloud far outweigh the old perceptions of the cloud not being secure, as the cloud is far more secure than a server in the corner. The cloud environment is only getting better all the time with regard to utility, usability, scalability, and security. Isn’t it time you considered and implemented a cloud-based PDM alternative for engineers?

After all, it’s your data, and it demands a secure environment.

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