By Sarah Taylor on April 4, 2023

Interest in cloud-based data management solutions has risen significantly in the last few years. Current SOLIDWORKS PDM users – and those looking to implement a PDM solution for the first time – may be wondering, can SOLIDWORKS PDM be hosted in the cloud? And the answer is yes! Keep reading to learn more.

What is “PDM in the Cloud”?

SOLIDWORKS PDM can be hosted “in the cloud” which means that the server components of PDM are installed on a Virtual Machine through a trusted cloud computing service like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. From there, your team connects to the virtual server for access to your PDM tools and data, in the same way they would connect to a server if it were physically located in your office. Whether your SOLIDWORKS PDM is installed on a local server or on a virtual machine, the end-user experience is the same. Users can check files out/in to the vault, track revisions, and manage approval processes with all of the same functionalities, and all within Windows File Explorer.

pdm in the cloud

SOLIDWORKS PDM User Interface in File Explorer

How does it work?

To explain some of the behind-the-scenes of cloud-hosted PDM, let’s first take a look at the traditional on-premise setup for SOLIDWORKS PDM.

sample on premise pdm setup

With SOLIDWORKS PDM on-premise (shown above), a server on the local network is used as the central point for data storage. The PDM Server will have the following components installed on it:

  • SQL database
  • Database server service
  • File Archive
  • Archive server service
  • SolidNetwork License Manager

For end users, connecting to PDM just requires an active connection to the local network that the PDM server is connected to. This may be a wired or wireless connection. For remote users, a VPN connection can be used to connect to the office network while working from home or elsewhere, thus giving them access to the PDM server on that network.

sample on cloud pdm setup

When implementing SOLIDWORKS PDM on-cloud (shown above), a virtual machine is used as the central point where all of the PDM Server components, such as the database and archive, are installed and stored. Rather than using a local server that physically sits in the office, the server is in a data center. TriMech partners with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which have data center locations around the world. There are different configurations available for connecting to the cloud server, but a common one is shown in the diagram above – the virtual server can connect directly to the office network in the background, so that any users who connect to the office network automatically have access to the cloud server. For remote users, their VPN connection can go directly to the virtual PDM server.

Why Cloud?

Setting up your PDM Server on (or moving to) a virtual cloud-hosted machine comes with a few advantages over the traditional on-premise setup:

Cost – With a traditional on-premise setup, the server where PDM lives has to undergo regular upgrades and maintenance. Every so often, the hardware may even become obsolete requiring an entirely new machine be purchased. Plus, managing the server and its connection to the users typically requires an IT professional or team. When using a virtual machine, your server is managed and maintained at an industry-leading data center – TriMech partners with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Over time, the costs of maintaining physical servers on-premise may prove to be more expensive than a monthly recurring fee for the virtual server.

Security – Storing your data at a remote location means you have an extra layer of security from events that may cause problems for an on-premise PDM server like power outages, fires, floods, or other events beyond your control. With your data secured in a virtual server, you’ll never have to worry about downtime if your office becomes inaccessible. When your data is stored in a virtual environment, it is also safe from things like physical damage or overheating, which may occur to an in-office server if the proper precautions are not taken.

Remote work flexibility – For users who often work remotely, connecting to the office network via VPN means their connection speed is limited by both by their home internet speed and the bandwidth at the office. This means if the office network is experiencing particularly high bandwidth usage onsite, the remote user will also be impacted by the slowdown. However, when a user is connected to the cloud server, they will be connecting directly to the data center, and are essentially only limited by their Home internet speed.

Not to be confused with…

There are other solutions in the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem which are not to be confused with cloud-hosted SOLIDWORKS PDM.

First is SOLIDWORKS PDM Web2. Web2 is a web interface that allows users connect to a SOLIDWORKS PDM vault from most internet-connected devices. Web2 can only be set up with a PDM Professional vault. Read the blog How to Access Your SOLIDWORKS PDM Vault Online to learn more.

Secondly is Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE. 3DEXPERIENCE offers a suite of data management tools that are fully cloud-based. To learn more about 3DEXPERIENCE, check out the blog: What is 3DEXPERIENCE?

Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in setting up SOLIDWORKS PDM on the cloud, we are happy to help! Our Data Management team provides expert services for SOLIDWORKS PDM and Microsoft SQL including installation, configuration, data migration, support, and training. Learn more and Contact Us with any questionS.

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Sarah Taylor

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