PTC Debuts Next-Gen CAD Software, Touts Channel Opportunities

PTC unveiled the next generation of its computer-aided design (CAD) application suite Thursday and executives said the new product would provide the company's system integration and ISV partners with service and development opportunities.

"We are back in the CAD business in a big way," said CEO James Heppelmann, speaking at a press conference in Boston to introduce the new Creo design software. He said the product line establishes PTC's vision for 2D and 3D mechanical design software for the next 20 years.

PTC expects to make a beta of the applications, known until now as "Project Lightning," available next spring. The formal 1.0 release of the first seven applications in the suite is due in summer 2011, quickly followed by release 2.0 in the fall.

Creo is designed to solve problems that have plagued the CAD industry for years, according to the company, including usability, interoperability and product assembly management. On the interoperability front, for example, Creo will work in environments with multiple CAD systems and use data generated by other CAD software, including PTC's own Pro/Engineer and Dassault Systemes' Catia.

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PTC described the Creo applications as the industry's first true "multi-paradigm design platform" that can create designs in 2D, 3D and 3D parametric formats. Through integration with PTC's Windchill product lifecycle management software Creo will be capable of creating and re-using information for highly configurable products.

Next: Opportunities For Resellers, Systems Integrators

PTC has a number of patents pending on technology incorporated within Creo, including the software's common data model and how the product moves design geometry and data between applications, said Michael Campbell, divisional vice president in charge of Creo product development.

While CAD software today is almost exclusively used by design engineers, Creo is intended to be an enterprise-wide product that will be used by people across multiple operations such as engineering management, manufacturing and even marketing, Heppelmann said.

About 25 percent of PTC's sales are through channel partners such as VARs and systems integrators. The vendor also has a large ecosystem of ISVs who build applications that run with PTC products.

Heppelmann said Creo is a solid product for channel partners who sell to SMBs because of the software's emphasis on ease-of-use. "We will not lose the ease-of-use battle. Our resellers are excited about our strategy," the CEO said.

Because Creo represents such a leap ahead in technology, companies that implement it might be compelled to re-engineer their business processes to take full advantage of the application suite's capabilities, said Justin Teague, vice president and general manager. That could provide opportunities for systems integrators and consultants with business process re-engineering services, he said.

Next: Current Products Rebranded With Creo Name

The company also will rebrand its existing applications under the Creo name, with Pro/Engineer becoming Creo Elements/Pro, CoCreate rebranded Creo Elements/Direct and ProductView becoming Creo Elements/View.