PTC Creo to Be Available as Virtual Desktop CAD

A major announcement at the PTC Live Global 2013 conference was that PTC Creo design and analysis applications will soon be available and supported in a Virtual Desktop environment. In design and manufacturing environments today, corporations need to have the ability to get global teams up and running quickly in new locations, and they need all teams to be able to easily access the latest software installation by updating from a single server. Virtualization of PTC Creo design and analysis applications can help IT managers accomplish this.

Five of the ten currently available PTC Creo 2.0 apps, PTC Creo Parametric, PTC Creo Direct, PTC Creo Layout, PTC Creo Options Modeler, and PTC Creo Simulate, have been verified (tested and certified) as Citrix Ready. Starting with PTC Creo 2.0 Build M060 (slated for availability in late June 2013), these applications will be supported by PTC when running on virtualized desktops on an IBM server through a Citrix and NVIDIA-powered integration.

PTC’s support for virtual desktop configurations will enable customers to realize improved performance when working with large assemblies stored on a remote server, while ensuring intellectual property (IP) protection of the design data and streamlining administration and deployment of PTC Creo. It will also enable computer-aided design (CAD) users to work on a wider variety of operating systems—including mobile—through the Citrix Receiver and NVIDIA GRID vGPU technology.

In addition to the performance edge, running PTC Creo in a virtualized environment co-located with PTC Windchill PLM should offer customers a level of IP protection that is not available with alternate deployment methods. Company data stays on its servers, allowing customers to collaborate with external design partners in real time using the same design data. By supporting virtual desktops, PTC also empowers users to use a device of their choice, be it a desktop device powered by Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, or any of the major mobile platforms—iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile. This should add an additional element of flexibility and accessibility for PTC customers by eliminating the need for every member of the extended development team to have a Windows-based device solely dedicated to design or analysis tasks.

Cloudy Future

While CAD desktop virtualization is great for IT managers in terms of IT administration and hardware costs, only time will tell how PTC will be able to match the speed and flexibility of having a CAD tool on your own desktop. If network speeds and Internet speed increase, this could be the future of CAD, but until then engineers and designers might be frustrated by the performance. Indeed, how effective can product design be using touch (think: “fat fingers” phenomenon as experienced by many Apple iPad users)? On the other hand, for product data management (PDM) a private cloud can provide flexibility with greater control of security. For some time, private clouds will be the best fit for product lifecycle management (PLM).

My take is that this is a “halfway house” solution to accommodate the cloud and mobility needs. PTC is even candid about not calling this desktop virtualization as a private cloud per se, rather a centralized hosted access. This is certainly not a pure public cloud CAD and product lifecycle management (PLM) solution as Autodesk already offers, as PLM 360 (or soon to offer as Fusion 360 CAD). On the other hand, Siemens PLM software is pretty much committed to the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) Teamcenter PLM offering with Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM SmartCloud, etc., whereas Dassault Systemes is reportedly going to update its cloud CAD and PLM strategy some time this year. PTC has yet to announce official intentions to deploy Windchill on, say, Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS.
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