During the last few days, I’ve been getting many questions about Autodesk and Upchain. Thanks to all my online and offline readers – I appreciate your comments and questions. In this article, I want to share some questions I’ve been asked and also my assessment of how Autodesk will be using Upchain. All comments and questions based on the public information provided by Autodesk and my understanding of the market.
Autodesk released a slide deck that gave me some additional data points. Here are two important slides I captured.
As you can see Upchain is positioned between Fusion PLM (which is recently announced Fusion 360 Manage (also known before as PLM360, Fusion Lifecycle) and other Fusion 360 products. It is not clear if all data communication will require Upchain and also not clear where is Autodesk Forge. But, as Autodesk mentioned during the call, it is work in progress development.
Who are the winners of Autodesk+Upchain?
Autodesk Is a clear winner by getting cloud PDM functions. Back in 2011, Autodesk’s decision was to combine file-less PLM with Vault. The idea didn’t work and the absence of cloud PDM functions was a significant hole in PLM360 / Fusion Lifecycle.
Autodesk Customers. Those customers still using file-based CAD systems will get a backbone to manage files. Unchain main function is PDM and it might become a pain relief to all customers looking how to manage files in the cloud.
Who can potentially lose as a result of Autodesk+Upchain
Non-Autodesk CAD users working with Upchain. As much as Autodesk will be committed to non-Autodesk CAD work, it is not limitless and always will be questioned. So, if you’re a Solidworks Upchain customer, you can be concerned.
Autodesk Vault Customer. These are long-time customers of Autodesk. Having two PDM systems under the same roof is not simple status and eventually, Autodesk Vault will be slowing Autodesk Vault development and moving to Upchain, unless some unexpected events will happen. It is not clear what will happen to the recent Autodesk Vault Mobile and web products. The need to have them might be significantly diminished with the Upchain having native cloud capabilities
Questions I didn’t find answers to…
Autodesk Fusion360. Recent enhancements of Fusion 360 announced release management features and change management for Fusion360 users by integrating Fusion Lifecycle (now Fusion360 Manage) into Autodesk Fusion 360. It is not clear if this implementation survives the mix with Upchain. The chart gives some idea that Fusion360 will be using Upchain function. But it is actually not clear if Upchain will be touching Fusion360 workflows.
Fusion 360 data interface with Autodesk Forge. Another promising piece of modern infrastructure pre-announced by Autodesk to streamline data transfer from Fusion360 and making it more online connected. Will this project be stopped and replaced by Upchain based on the diagram shared? Not clear.
All AEC design tools including Revit. Will Upchain be positioned to provide a cloud file backbone for AEC products? According to the picture, AutoCAD is included. But Upchain was largely used for manufacturing products and MCAD/ECAD. Expanding to AEC can be interesting, but then there is a whole bunch of questions about integrations with ACC (Autodesk Construction cloud) software solutions and again with Autodesk Vault, which is still can be used with tools like Revit.
Other CAD-PLM vendors. Autodesk PLM portfolio is small compared to other major PLM vendors. I think, adding Upchain to Autodesk won’t change the status quo. The biggest tension I expect is between DS Solidworks and Inventor – top rivals. Will Upchain be able to stand against 3DX from Dassault Systems? That would be an interesting comparison to make going downstream.
What is my conclusion?
Autodesk will have to resolve a complex puzzle of existing products and directions to develop and integrate Upchain. My hunch that initially, Upchain will be offered to Autodesk customers as a cloud PDM solution to complement (or to be an alternative) to Autodesk Vault until all other questions about Upchain integrations will be resolved. I look forward to seeing Autodesk’s next development with Upchain. Interesting time… Just my thoughts.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.