The technology used to conceive, design and fabricate the objects around us is complicated. It may be difficult to understand if you're not a practitioner, yet businesses routinely entrust their most important processes to these tools. Our Hot Topics blog tries to clear up some of the confusion.

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Hot Topics

Out of the Inbox: reality capture & 3D printing stalls?, BIM grows, VARs do too

EarningsA couple of things caught my eye recently, but I’ve been too wrapped up in other projects to write about them in any detail. So rather than continuing to wait until I have time, in no particular order …

Reality computing seems to be taking a beating right now — well, at least a couple of the bigger, publicly-traded suppliers are. FARO said that Q1 revenue would fall short of expectations because of foreign exchange and weakness in Japan and Brazil then, last week, 3D Systems said that it saw a sharp drop-off in activity by aerospace, automotive and healthcare customers as they slowed spending because of exchange rates and the fallout from the low price of oil. 3D Systems also had internal issues, as “certain metal and nylon applications and performance issues delayed the company’s ability to sell additional printers during the quarter”. Coming on the heels of Stratasys‘ announcement of problems with the Makerbot business, 3D printing shares are taking a beating on Wall Street. Does this mean reality computing is a non-starter? Of course not. We’ll all keep capturing more and more of the world around us; one hiccup won’t affect that in the long run. We will also increasingly rely on additive manufacturing technology, so postponing purchases from one quarter to another is also not a category-killer. But these reports do show that perhaps printer companies may be trying to push too hard with technology that’s not quite ready for customers whose internal processes may not be quite ready, either, to let go of decades of additive manufacturing practices.

Speaking of reality computing, the popularity of handheld scanners seems to be skyrocketing. Since they’re so much cheaper, at under $10,000 per unit as compared to $50,000 and up for a traditional model, easy to use and can reach places traditional scanners often can’t, they’re a great way to collect “as is” data. Trimble and DotProduct recently announced that DotProduct’s DPI-8 would be distributed by Trimble and its distribution partners. That’s big — a little startup getting such a global partner on board. It’s a clear sign that the cost of reality capture can only come down even as ease of use goes up.

Nemetschek gave more details results a few weeks ago for Q4 and full year 2014. You can read them here but, in summary, revenue was up 18% to €219 million in 2014, above the company’s last forecast with a big year-end, as Q4 revenue was €65 million, up 26%. What led to such good growth? License revenue was up 21% overall, with the Design segment again leading the way, led by Vectorworks and Graphicsoft. Design is still the largest segment, with total revenue of €175 million, up 17%; on an organic basis, revenue was up 11%. The Build segment reported revenue of €20 million, up 30.4%, including a €5 million contribution from Bluebeam, consolidated since October 31, 2014. Revenue from the Manage segment was up 5% to €5 million and the Media & Entertainment segment reported revenue up 12% to €18 million. For 2015, Nemetschek expects group revenue to grow organically by 6% to 9% but that acquisitions will boost total revenue to around€265 million. What does it all mean? That BIM is catching on for more and more project types and sizes — and that for those too small to support a BIM environment, the use of design and collaboration technologies is still growing in importance.

Finally, a bit of VAR catch-up. VARs, value added resellers, make the PLMish world go round. They represent the software vendor for both sales and support and are often the “face” of a product to local users. They are also, often, small businesses that struggle to keep the cash flow in balance and struggle to grow when they’re dependent on their OEM partners for new products. A couple of large, publicly-traded PLM VARs give us periodic glimpses into the health of that part of our universe:

  • CENIT, reselling Dassault Systemes, IBM, SAP and other partner products as well as add-on services, reported that revenue for 2014 was €123 million, up 4%. Within that total, revenue from third party software was up 12% to €56 million; proprietary software was unchanged at €13 million, and revenue from consulting and services was €54 million, down 3%. Revenue from the PLM segment was up 7.5% to €98 million.
  • Mensch und Maschine, MuM, is an Autodesk reseller that is growing its own portfolio in CAM and AEC. MuM reported that Q1 was a “sparking start” to 2015, as revenue grew 14% to €43. The company’s own software revenue grew 14% to €10 million while the VAR business contributed €33 million, up 16%. MuM said that “nearly one third of the VAR Business growth was due to the Swiss Franc increase against the Euro, the remainder – still double digit – was purely organic.” CEO Adi Drotleff is optimistic about 2015 as a whole: ‘The higher than expected business development in Q1 makes us confident that the targets for fiscal year 2015 are achievable: Sales should clearly exceed €150 million.”

In both cases, the PLM VAR revenue was up over 10% –a little more in the Autodesk space, a little less in the DS– which bodes well for the greater VAR universe and for the OEM suppliers as well. We’ve heard from DS, with total revenue up 30%, constant currency growth of 17%, organic software revenue up 9% in constant currencies. Next up are PTC and Trimble and then we take off with ANSYS, Hexagon and a host of others. It’s going to be a bumpy, currency vs expectation-laden ride.


Totally OT: If it’s too good to be true …

colored bricksAs you probably know, this website runs on Wordpress, a nifty content management tool that powers something like 1/3 of the world’s websites. WordPress uses themes to organize content and plugins to make those themes (and the base WordPress platform) more fit for a web designer’s specific purpose.

You might also know that last week Google sent emails to webmasters around the world, telling them that their sites were unsuited for mobile devices, and that this would start affecting search results. We all consume more content on phones and tablets and it’s really not that hard to accommodate. In fact, I added a nifty plugin and we were off …

Then it got complicated. Google also didn’t love Schnitger Corp.’s site loading time so, since we’re all about the customer experience here, making things faster seemed like another good idea. Off I went. Another plugin. This one promised that it was a “very simple plugin that allows you to quickly compress and GZip your site. Only Works On Apache Servers (almost all WordPress installs are on Apache Servers). This will give you the ability to increase your speed and possibly even your rank in Google from a speed increase”. Sounds good but …

Here things went horribly wrong. WordPress plugins are downloaded onto the server, then installed, then activated. Something in that chain led deleted important stuff that caused a dreaded 500 error:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 12.05.33 AM

(Our message said to contact webmaster A T schnitgercorp D O T com but you get the idea.)

Not helpful. In the least. Starting to panic: If we can identify that one thing has been deleted, what else is missing or compromised in some way?

Then an email arrived from the plugin’s developers, saying that we might see problems after installing the plugin and telling us to replace one file with another. And to send them our FTP login credentials so they could take a look and make a quick fix. Finally, the clincher: “If you are unhappy with your current site speed or server setup, we invite you to give us a try. We … consider your business to be a valuable resource, not a bother.” Call me cynical, but rendering something unusable and then offering to fix it all for a fee isn’t legit. We won’t even talk about the phishing potential of the FTP login info.

After poking around, contacting the hosting company and generally going a bit nuts, it became obvious: restore from the backup.

And that’s what we did. After hours of showing the world the 500 error, we’re back! Yay!

The lessons:

  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Many WordPress plugins are great, simple little tools but this one promised just a bit too much in order to get people like me to download it, setting up the potential FTP credentials/pay-to-fix scheme.
  • Check everything. If I had bothered to look beyond the star rating for the plugin, I would have seen that 500 error reported by a number of other downloaders.
  • Don’t take on something you can’t back out of. I have no idea how to fix a 500 error and am lucky that the backup worked — without that …. Shudder.
  • Don’t do what I did!

The site may be a bit wonky — sorry — so please send an email to let us know. We’ll get back to work on making the site faster when we’ve recovered from this adventure.


Update: DS and Modelon, not a total acquisition

EarningsDassault Systèmes yesterday announced that it had acquired Modelon Gmbh but wasn’t really clear about the details. A number of you emailed and tweeted to ask for more information; here’s what I’ve learned:

DS acquired Modelon AB’s 45% stake in Modelon GmbH, only one part of Modelon AB. The AB is the parent company of the group, which consisted of Modelon Inc. in US and Modelon K.K. in Japan as well as that minority share of Modelon GmbH in Germany. After this deal, Modelon AB remains, as do the Inc. and K.K. The Modelon brand and all assets of Modelon AB remain with the Modelon group.

To be more clear, then, what DS acquired was the Modelon GmbH team of roughly 40 engineers to further DS’ own virtual systems design and systems simulation ambitions.

Why did Modelon do this? According to Dr. Hubertus Tummescheit, the CEO of Modelon Inc., Modelon can consolidate its German operations and will now start up its own, wholly-owned, subsidiary in Germany. Dr. Tummerscheit also wanted to make clear that “all but one of the products on listed at www.modelon.com are owned by the parent company, with only the Battery Library developed by Modelon GmbH” and that “Modelon AB/Inc/KK will continue as the global Modelon brand with the same strategic vision, product portfolio, and services solutions focused on Modelica and Functional Mockup Interface. Modelon continues to have operations in Germany without any interruption with an office in Munich.”

Modelon customers in Germany will see some changes with respect to business relationships, and will be contacted to determine the most effective way to move forward.  You can read Modelon’s press release here.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch for clarification — both asking and answering questions!


Quickie: DS rocks Q1, acquires Modelon

EarningsHeading out to day 2 of the Siemens Oil and Gas Innovations Conference but wanted to take a quick peek at Dassault Systèmes Q1 results, reported early this morning.

On the surface, DS knocked Q1 out of the park, soundly beating its total revenue target €615 million or so. It looks like roughly half of the growth is due to a currency tailwind — but the constant currency growth is still impressive.

The main points:

  • Total IFRS revenue was €652 million, up 30% year/year as reported and up 17% in constant currencies (cc)
  • In that total, new license revenue was €157 million, up 32%
  • Maintenance and other recurring software revenue was €422 million, up 27%
  • Of total software, CATIA revenue was up 12% as reported (up 4% in cc); ENOVIA was up 7% (down 4% in cc) – probably because of a huge deal closed a year ago, so don’t read too much into this; SOLIDWORKS revenue was up 38% (up 17% in cc). Other Software, the composite of SIMULIA, GEOVIA and other brands, was up 63% (and up 47% in cc).
  • By geo, revenue from the Americas was up 43% (up 18% in cc); from Europe, up 22% (up 16% in cc) and from Asia, up 30% as reported and up 17% in cc.

OK. Those are the numbers. There’s clearly a strong effect from currency fluctuations but, aside from that, what can we learn? DS says that organic revenue has been strengthening over the last year; in constant currencies, non-IFRS organic revenue was up 8%, software revenue was up 9% and new license revenue rose 14%. This growth is undoubtedly due to its industry and geo diversification, and the maturation of its targeted Experience solutions. More on this after I’ve had time to go over the company’s materials in more detail.

One other bit: DS announced that it has acquired Modelon, which makes a multi-physics solution based on Modelica, for product subsystem interaction and performance prediction. It’s interesting: DS has now acquired 3 companies that base their offerings on the Modelica open standard: Geensoft for embedded systems development in 2010 and Dynasim’s modeling and simulation solutions in 2006. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

DS also confirmed its 2015 goals: Q2 non-IFRS total revenue between €665 million and€675 million, on the way to a full-year total of €2.76 billion to €2.78 billion — that’s up a bit because of the changes in exchange rates since the company’s last estimates.

More soon.


STAR Global highlights optimization & possibilities

STAR GLOBALDid I see you at CD-adapco’s STAR Global conference in San Diego a few weeks ago? No? That’s too bad — it was a dynamite event, with presentations galore, a beach party and even cake and champagne. It was a jam-packed event, culminating in hands-on and lecture-style training.

The main takeaway: CD-adapco isn’t resting on its laurels. There’s an ambitious, 3-per year release plan, new physics, new ways to transact, all backed by the company’s core values of quality products backed by dedicated customer support.

The lessons were many, and often came fast and furious:

  • There is greater reliance than ever on simulation-based design. What started as a way to save money by eliminating physical prototypes is now almost equally weighted towards the innovation that comes from building a CAE model once and then using it to test alternate design possibilities and usage scenarios. From Trek bicycles to Mercedes car side mirrors, leading companies are exploiting their CAE expertise to create exciting, optimized new products. We’ll probably always simulate bend-and-break, but we’re way beyond that today.
  • Many, many of the attendees are longtime CFD users, with years of experience in STAR-CCM+. They want CD-adapco to keep perfecting CFD but are also looking for ways to grow their use of simulation in general, to address new product-related challenges (if manufacturers) or offer new services to clients (if service bureaus). I can’t count how many people told me that they wanted to “take their use of simulation to the next level” and expand a perhaps modest simulation program into new types of physics or new parts of their companies. Bosses now seem to understand what CAE can do; there seems to be less justification of the concept and more “can it do this, too?”.
  • These companies are no longer looking at simulation as a special tool to be used in a limited context; the convergence of cloud/HPC, efficient solvers and price-conscious licensing is leading a lot of people to look at how they can grow their use of simulation.
  • CFD is still the realm of experts, super-users. STAR-CCM+ isn’t easy to use, but its results are increasingly easy to communicate. Again, it’s about innovation: the simulation itself isn’t the end-goal; using the results to move a design forward, make decisions about a particular facet, is the point. That’s easier to do if everyone can look at a colored plot or movie and see flow streamlines, velocity contours, cavitation and so on.
  • Optimization was everywhere — not surprising, considering that CD-adapco acquired Red Cedar a couple of years ago, bringing its HEEDS and SHERPA in-house. STAR-CCM+ users may use HEEDS or a competing product, but many are exploring what’s possible. Some expressed concern that we’re losing physical understanding by brute-forcing thousands of cases rather then narrowing on a smaller set of likely possibles, but just about everyone sees optimization as a gigantic shift and leap forward.
  • STAR-CCM+ v10 is a game-changer for CD-adapco, moving it into the realm of multiphysics. V10 carries three basic themes: Technology, with new modeling capabilities and other enabling or advanced technologies; Experience,  making the technology more accessible and streamlining workflows; and Productivity, meaning faster simulations and greater efficiency leading users to explore more designs. Within the themes are specifics like remote execution for CAD clients, a parts-based thin mesher, GPU utilization improvements, and much much more. Go here for details. Jean-Claude Ercolanelli, Sr. VP, Product Management and his team moved quickly through the plans for v10 and even teased a bit of future direction; it’s worth a look.

CD-adapco turns 35 this year. That’s pretty cool for a software company, and an impressive feat when you consider that it has held on to many customers for that entire time. One big reason? CEO Steve MacDonald and members of his management team make themselves visible and accessible, setting up in a corner of the conference center lobby whenever the formal sessions were on a break. Any attendee could walk up to Mr. MacDonald — unusual at a time when most CEOs of similar-sized companies (say $200 million or so) are guarded by handlers. That level of openness and communication is rare, and says a lot about the relationships CD-adapco and its customers have built over the decades.

Mr. MacDonald can generally be counted on to say exactly what he thinks. He is unashamedly proud of his company and its people. And he’s a demon for cake (well, icing, at least):

Steve and cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s far from done, though. Mr. MacDonald told attendees that multiphysics is crucial, and that CD-adapco has built a framework to make it possible to grow from CFD to finite element and finite volume heat transfer, electromagnetics, stress and more. He said, “we’re committed to becoming a CAE code, based on a framework that allows multiphysics as well as stand-alone [single physics].” He’s laid out the long-range vision; now his team is working to put it all together.

One more thing: Did you know that STAR stands for “Simulation of Turbulent flow in Arbitrary Regions”. Me neither. CD-adapco’s Stephen Ferguson wrote about the origins of the company in the March 2015 issue of Dynamics, here.

Happy birthday, CD-adapco! Many, many more!

Note: CD-adapco graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation at the event but did not in any way influence the content of this post.


AVEVA teases that fiscal 2015 wasn’t as bad as feared

EarningsAVEVA releases periodic updates, really little more than place holders, to tell investors how things are going and what they can expect to hear in the upcoming formal earnings release. Today, AVEVA’s  Trading Update said that the fiscal year ended March 31 was “in line with market expectations”.

Let’s be clear: AVEVA doesn’t give guidance so it’s not saying that sales for fiscal 2015 met any particular target the company had itself set. This isn’t like PTC, which recently announced that March quarter revenue would be at the midpoint of guidance; UK companies are much more reticent and rarely give that kind of detailed outlook.

AVEVA’s statement is that results meet market expectations, where consensus seems to be annual revenue of £208.5 million and adjusted profit before tax of £61.8 million. If you recall, revenue for the first half (H1) was £85.9 million (down 21% year/year), meaning that second half revenue has to be around £123 million, down 4% year/year given what we know but perhaps as good as flatish given that we don’t have a real number yet. Profit before taxes was £17.1 million in H1 (versus £32.2 million in fiscal 2014) so getting to £62 million or so shows quite a reversal and solid cost containment — though it is still down quite a bit from the £78.3 million reported for last year.

That happened to get to this more positive picture for H2? We won’t know until May 19, when AVEVA gives its full take on it, but we can presume a couple of things (and could be completely, totally wrong about it all):

  • recurring revenue from rentals and subscriptions held up in H2
  • AVEVA E3D is starting to see more paying customers, and they’re paying premium prices for this new product
  • foreign exchange (which accounted for maybe 6% of the H1 revenue decline) wasn’t as big a factor in H2
  • the company’s sales force restructuring into One AVEVA has shaken out and people are now on the ground, selling rather than settling in, and
  • this led to a deal or two for the Enterprise Solutions part of the business, which has been struggling.

One thing AVEVA can’t do anything about is the health of its end-markets. We all know that the price for oil is crazy right now, with oversupply, slowing demand, and strong statements from OPEC and others. Many of you have gotten in touch to ask what this means for engineering software suppliers: as project work slows down, what will happen to sales of engineering software? We’re about to find out as companies start announcing March quarter results but early indications are that, yes, there may be some slowdown. But we need to remember that the engineering companies (EPCs) supplying the oil and gas world are hugely diverse, and offer services from conceptual design through project planning and operations, and across many industries besides upstream oil exploration.

AVEVA will formally announce results on May 19, while Hexagon (Intergraph’s parent company) releases earnings on May 6.


Oh dear. FARO preannounces Q1

EarningsDespite all of the (deserved, accurate) hoopla about reality computing, FARO, one of the leading capture vendors, today announced preliminary results for Q1. Is it a harbinger of things to come or an isolated case? Probably more the former, as currency, regional economics and turmoil in the oil and gas industry set us up for a bit of a rollercoaster ride in Q1. Each PLMish company has different levels of exposure to each threat, so we’ll have to hear specifics before we can reach broader conclusions.

FARO now expects to report revenue of around $70 million for Q1, down 5% from a year ago. That’s a bit of a surprise, since CEO Jay Freeland said as recently as February 26, 2015 that Q1 was supposed to be “typical”, which Wall Street took to mean revenue up 10% or so.

Today, FARO said that there were 3 main reasons for the revenue shortfall:

  • a decline in the Euro and Yen versus the US Dollar,
  • weaker demand in Japan as the government released less stimulus funding for manufacturing (remember that FARO also sells metrology equipment), and
  • weaker demand in Brazil.

One can’t use accounting to change demand, but we can look at how constant currencies affect the revenue that did come in. Excluding the foreign exchange impact, FARO says Q1 revenue would have been up 5% or so over last year.

Mr. Freeland said in prepared remarks that this result “is below our long term mid-teens sales growth goal primarily due to lower metrology unit sales. On a positive note, we are very pleased that the FARO Focus3D laser scanner is expected to report greater than 20% year-over-year unit sales growth, and that our new hand-held Freestyle3D laser scanner has received a strong market reception … [I]n response to our lower than expected first quarter sales and income, we are proactively implementing efficiencies and cost reduction measures without impairing our ability to grow.”

We’ll know more about that, and get a look at the final audited results for Q1, on April 28.

Every company that does business internationally will see some effect of the Euro and Yen vs US Dollar. Companies reporting in Dollars will see lower revenue; companies reporting in Euro and Yen will see higher revenue. It’s not fair, but it is universal. Add to that, the companies in our PLMish universe are affected by whatever is challenging manufacturers  in Japan and Brazil; and the AECish ones are also hit by the slowdown in capital spending on oil projects. Every company has different levels of exposure, so how big an effect any of this has on a particular company, we won’t know until more announce results — but it’s a good sign that only FARO* has so far said that Q1 would fall below expectations.

*Yes, PTC preannounced a couple of weeks ago, but that wasn’t really revenue-related. The company wanted to get the news of its restructuring out of the way, even though revenue was right in the middle of its prior $305 million to $320 million guidance range. PTC will provide more detail on April 29.


ESI acquires Ciespace to bring CAE to the masses

EarningsAdd together acquisitive leanings and the trend to all things cloud, and what do you get? ESI yesterday announced that it has acquired Ciespace, which appears to have figured out a way to get around performance , scalability and real-time collaboration issues to create a CAE-in-the-cloud platform.

It’s an interesting add-on to the other recent announcements (Picviz for big data, CIVITEC for automotive controls) and to ESI’s traditional product lines which are aimed squarely at the largest automotive OEMS. A cloud-enabled offering lets ESI target smaller companies via attractive pricing and a lower cost of sales; its large customers will also benefit from on-demand surge offerings. Could ESI have developed this technology itself? Arguably, yes — but with Ciespace struggling on its own, the acquisition makes sense.

Ciespace has been many things over its life (remember the company’s really cool BubbleMesh?), but in this case, its platform that was created in the late 2000s specifically to serve CAE apps to users via the cloud. As far as I know, its main app is OpenFOAM (the open source CFD app) backed by Ciespace’s own collaboration and pre-processing solutions. Ciespace always intended to add other apps but, I think, was stymied by vendors trying to do their own cloud-enablement.

ESI gets a lot with this deal: a jump-start in enabling a full SaaS version of its legacy suite, new price points and ways of interacting with customers and prospects, and a top-notch R&D team that can continue to develop this delivery mechanism. It’s not clear, however, that Ciespace brings with it any real revenue; it had great potential but was never really able to find its niche.

The Ciespace platform has all of the buzzword-y aspects of cloud covered. Ciespace said it was built on a scalable High Performance Computing (HPC) multi-tenant architecture, with an open application framework that supported real-time collaboration, browser based visualization, and, of course, addressed security concerns. So there.

What I like most about this deal, however, is the future potential. ESI says that the acquisition will “enable a new way to develop and deliver cost-effective and reliable digital modeling for CAE solutions. The value of Ciespace’s technology and its collaborative approach will accelerate the democratization of CAE to all engineers and designers and gradually to non-technical users in both small and large enterprises.” Notice the key words: new, cost-effective, reliable, collaborative, non-technical users. The intent is clearly to create technically correct solutions, served in new ways to new users.

Ciespace CTO, Dr. Sanjay Choudhry joins ESI, saying “[b]y leveraging ESI’s worldwide distribution and development network, Ciespace’s technology will be expanded and spread worldwide and in many new industrial sectors. We are confident numerous customers and prospects will appreciate the tremendous added value that will come from this combination of best in class physics, modeling and Cloud platform.”

ESI also disclosed a little of its plans for rolling out a SaaS-enabled offering, starting with selected (but not named) solvers and advanced modeling tools: “The objective will be to seamlessly deploy on-demand CAE modeling, enabling customers to access High Performance Computing resources and post-process results so they can complete analysis and iterative improvement with minimal development and investment effort.”

On the business front, ESI will initially use current sales channels to introduce the Ciespace-enabled offering to its OEM and Tier 1 customer base. Over time, however, ESI plans to address smaller companies and Tier 2 and 3 suppliers with a new business strategy predicated on its SaaS solutions.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but we do know that Ciespace raised at least $4 million in venture funding over the years. It’s also not clear if CEO Tom Curry, an industry veteran with MSC and LMS experience, or Dr. Kenji Shimada, the inventor of BubbleMesh, are joining ESI.


Altair scales up with Multiscale Design Systems

EarningsAcquisition news continues to roll. Yesterday, Altair announced that it has acquired Multiscale Design Systems, makers of the MDS suite of products that enable modeling, simulation, testing and optimization using multiple spatial and temporal scales. I know, I know: what does that mean? Composites, for example, are made up of strands of fiber that can be specifically oriented to meet objectives for the completed material. That has implications from the atomic level all the way to the finished product. What are the material’s properties at the tiniest, Angstrom, level to the full-sized, millimeter, levels? How can you gain the fullest-possible understanding to make sure that the material is right for your use? By using multiscale methods that enable traditional finite element methods to upscale and downscale as required, relying on experimental data where appropriate. But it’s not just composites: auto, aero, biopharma, civil, electronics and other industries use these methods to look at models at different scales.

Multiscale Design Systems’ products include plugins for ABAQUS Standard, ABAQUS Explicit, ANSYS, LS –DYNA (and others?) that add multiscale capabilities to those commercial codes. MDS is a member of the Altair Partner Alliance, so the code has been available to HyperWorks users for the last year. Altair says it plans a much tighter integration with its RADIOSS and OptiStruct solvers as a result of this acquisition.

MDS also markets its own parallel nonlinear macro-solver (MDS-MACRO);  it’s not clear what will happen to that.

Altair’s CTO, Uwe Schramm, said that Altair will continue to support the plugins even as it works to build out their capabilities: “We will continue to develop, enhance, and invest in MDS as part of HyperWorks while retaining an open architecture approach with respect to other 3rd party solvers. Altair is committed to creating good interfaces and continuing to build partnerships to excel in the domain of composite materials.”

MDS was formed to commercialize technology developed as a result of over 20 years of research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Since 2008 MDS has been working to grow the product set by focusing on areas like thermal fatigue, the effects of moisture, physics-based life prediction capabilities, and modeling concrete failure under blast and fragment loading. As a result, says Dr. Jacob Fish, MDS co-founder, “We have partnered with a number of significant original equipment manufacturers to analyze state-of-the-art materials for automotive, aerospace, and defense.”

It seems as though Altair is following its proven pattern: get to know a company, its technology and people through the Hyperworks Partner Network. See how customers respond to the offering, identify holes or areas for greater integration, feel out the current team. If all signs are positive, acquire. This is clearly a technology buy (MDS didn’t have a whole lot of revenue to add to the topline) and will push the company further into fatigue, composites and other materials and multiphysics simulation.

Details of the acquisition were not announced.


PTC sort of preannounces FQ2, workforce realignment

EarningsPTC just announced that revenue for the quarter ended April 4 will be slightly above the midpoint of prior guidance of $305 million to $320 million, with license and subscription revenue slightly below the mid-point of the $80 million to $95 million range while subscription bookings slowed slightly in the quarter.

That doesn’t sound bad. But even so, PTC says it wants to reduce its cost structure because it sees a slowdown in the global economic (or at least the parts it sells into right now), and that saving $30 million per year or so will, in CEO Jim Heppelmann’s words, “better position PTC to sharpen our strategic focus, optimize investments and deliver on long-term growth and profitability objectives.”

Part of this: realigning its workforce so that it can increase investment in its Internet of Things businesses because of the potential the company see there.  The company expects to that something like 7% of its worldwide workforce (approximately 450 people) will be repurposed or eliminated. That, and closing some offices, will result in a restructuring charge of about $45 million, the majority of which is attributable to termination benefits. Approximately $41 million of this charge will be recorded in PTC’s second quarter –just ended, which means it’s already happened– with the remainder expected to be recorded in the third quarter ending July 4, 2015.

That’s all for now. PTC will release its Q2 results on Wednesday, April 29, when we should learn a lot more about this. Investors were initially skeptical, sending the share price down a bit this morning, but now it’s up about 1%.