PTC Offers Pro/E 'Special Edition' Free to I-DEAS Users
Migration program offered in hopes of attracting I-DEAS users displaced by UGS/SDRC merger
by Roopinder Tara, TenLinks.com
WALTHAM, Massachusetts, August 8, 2001 - PTC announced yesterday the launch of a "Web-based resource center" that will offer a migration path for users of rival MCAD programs. In the wake of the acquisition of SDRC by EDS (UGS' parent company), the resource center first takes aim at users of SDRC's I-DEAS program.
SDRC users may request a free copy of "Pro/ENGINEER Special Edition for SDRC Users" on its website at http://www.ptc.com/go/sdrcideas/index.htm. Users must be able to supply the number of digits in their installation number and pay a $14.95 shipping charge.
UPDATE 8/15: According to information recently posted on the PTC site, the Special Edition is based upon PTC's Student Edition and is intended for personal and educational use only. It is NOT intended for commercial use. PTC warns that "designs created with this package may not be used with the commercial version of Pro/ENGINEER. See full follow-up story.
The commercial version of Pro/ENGINEER is available for $5,995.
What's in the Resource Center?
At its resource center, PTC offers services, consulting and training to help migrate users. As an example, it chronicles Itronix, a manufacturer of ruggedized wireless computers that recently switched from I-DEAS to Pro/E. However, the effort to woo SDRC users suffers from being too general. Lacking is the expected list of advantages that Pro/E holds over I-DEAS. In fact, there is very little specific information for I-DEAS users, who will probably be interested in such issues as:
- a side-by-side comparison of the features and capabilities of I-DEAS and Pro/ENGINEER
- a command translator that shows Pro/E commands that could be substituted for their familiar I-DEAS commands. This may be too much to ask initially, but this is something that should be made available in a tailored "I-DEAS to Pro/E" course.
- model and data translation for their existing designs
Switching CAD Programs
In the hotly contested field of mechanical design, we expect SDRC's other competitors to also look for defectors to add to their own ranks. "We expect that Dassault Systemes will work to win customers over, especially in the automotive market," says Jay Vleeschhouwer, analyst for Merrill Lynch. PTC may very well land I-DEAS users already looking to switch CAD programs, or those who already believe Pro/E to be the superior program. However, the vast majority of I-DEAS users will likely stay put, leaving their fate in UGS' hands. Many I-DEAS users will have years of legacy CAD models and data that they will be carefully trying to preserve. This is UGS' ace in the hole. Having access to data formats for both I-DEAS and Unigraphics, UGS will have the inside track in assuring I-DEAS users that their models will indeed have a chance for continued life. CAD managers know that retraining and data conversion are the major costs in switching design software. The cost of the software itself can be minor. While PTC says that it can help customize a plan to migrate data from one program to another, it does not specifically address conversion from I-DEAS in its resource center.
The Future of SDRC I-DEAS
Although Tony Affuso, CEO of UGS, promised to follow through with at least two more releases of I-DEAS, it is not certain which design software UGS will favor for the long term. UGS has stated that it will use its Parasolid modeling kernel with I-DEAS. UGS has also declared that it will go forward with best-of-breed solutions, eventually eliminating duplication of products in the merged company. While the "best of breed" distinction is clear in some categories (SDRC seems to have superior products in CAE, while Unigraphics is stronger in manufacturing), it's not quite as clear in the core category of design software. Both Unigraphics and I-DEAS will have their champions, but failing an immediate distinction of superiority, I-DEAS' days are probably numbered. UGS will most likely try to convert I-DEAS users to Unigraphics, especially when both programs share a common Parasolids kernel that will make files more easily translated. Beyond that, it will be hard to justify development teams for both products. Eventually, UGS will probably phase out development for I-DEAS, resulting in infrequent updates and minor enhancements.