What do you think is the best release cycle for your CAD or PLM software? A short release cycle, every few months, that delivers a few key new capabilities? Or would this have too much impact on completing projects and you would prefer fewer major releases that can be planned for on an annual or even biannual basis? Do you sometimes skip releases and find yourself needing to do multiple upgrades to get up-to-date? Reading this article from Redmond Magazine, Microsoft is moving to a faster release cycle for its Windows operating system, should we be doing this for CAD and PLM software too?
Working in the PLM area we try really hard to provide our customers with a good upgrade experience. PLM software is itself dependent on both the operating system and database software, and it has to work with specific releases of CAD software(sometimes with more than one CAD solution for our multi-CAD customers) and with office software as well! Moving PLM software to the cloud could potentially take some of the upgrade issues away from the end user, but PLM software does not work in isolation from your data files, or your other software and systems so I believe there is much work still to be done before the cloud really impacts the upgrade situation for real-world customers.
I am sure you have your own stories about upgrades, probably both good and bad. As an application engineer for a popular PDM solution one of my assignments was to upgrade a customer’s fairly small tooling database through 3 major versions of the PDM software, a new Windows operating system and a new version of SQL. With some trepidation we planned 2 days for the upgrade. I am not sure if it was me or the customer who was more surprised when we completed the work within 1 day with no significant issues. In another assignment the PDM upgrade also involved updates to several thousand of the customer’s CAD files. We ran some tests and the process of updating each individual CAD file was so intensive we estimated it would take 4 days just in pure processing to complete the CAD file updates. Still, I was confident we would do a good job for them so I was surprised when the customer decided not to proceed. I think they decided to wait for some faster hardware before proceeding.
A few years ago we moved from an irregular release cycle for Solid Edge, maybe 9 months in one cycle to 15 months in the next, to a regular cycle of annual releases (of course there are also maintenance packs delivered in the interim). I believe our customers much prefer this, they can plan ahead knowing that there will be a significant Solid Edge release available to them in August each year. In line with this regular schedule we just announced the release of Solid Edge ST7, the English version can now be downloaded from our GTAC site, (you will need your Webkey to access this page, then go to the Product Download area) and other language versions will be available in the next few weeks. Customer reaction in beta testing and with hands-on sessions at our SEU14 events worldwide has been really positive and we are confident that this latest release will bring significant benefits to our customers. I am already reading some great reports on our Solid Edge Community from users have upgraded to ST7 in the last few days.
I am interested to hear your own upgrade stories and how this impacts your view of the best release cycle, and what you think wecan do to further improve your experience.