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5 Compelling Pieces Of Evidence For Running CAD Online

5 Compelling Pieces Of Evidence For Running CAD Online

Recent technological developments have made it possible to run CAD programs on virtual CAD machines.

Here’s a confession: we understand if you’re skeptic. “Seeing is believing” is a healthy attitude towards new technologies. Here are 5 ways you can “see” that CAD applications perform really well on virtual infrastructure.

Note: designairspace runs on NVIDIA and Citrix. 

1 - Customer testimonials

March 26, 2014: Airplane manufacturer Turkish Airline Industries announces that it is running Siemens NX on virtual CAD machines

“Siemens’ NX™ software, the company’s flagship solution for integrated 3D computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering analysis (CAD/CAM/CAE), is now available in a cost-effective private cloud environment. Siemens worked closely with NVIDIA Corporation to certify the deployment of NX in the private cloud using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

 December 1, 2014: French carmaker PSA (better known for its brands Peugeot, Citroen and Opel/Vauxhall) publishes that it runs CATIA on virtual machines. 

“Can you tell a virtual machine from a real machine in a blind test? It’s not an existential philosophical question. The answer to that question gave one international automaker the assurance it needed to move its IT setup to 3D VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure”

2 - CAD Vendors have certified virtual CAD machines

CAD vendors have certified virtual machines for their applications. Dassault Systems, for example, has certified 162 variants of virtual machines for Solidworks.

Solidworks has cerified 162 different virtual desktop variants. Source: company website

3 - Proof from NVIDIA, Citrix et all

NVIDIA (GPU) and Citrix & VMware (Virtual Desktop Software) provide the technology to run CAD on virtual infrastructure. They have published several customer case studies. We’re listing here a few of them:


NVIDIA websites features an article about how Honda runs CATIA in a virtual desktop environment.

It is critical that all users, engineers and designers have a high performance workstation that can handle the demands of applications like CATIA. These high-performance engineering workstation (EWS) environments are at the core of their R&D, and in 2015 the center launched a “new-generation EWS project,” enabling users to leverage the same environment from anywhere and on any device without a change in quality or performance.


Airbus is a VMware customer. Airbuses uses virtual CAD machines to collaborate with supplier on CAD files. In VMware’s brochure “DELIVER BRILLIANT CAD PERFORMANCE“, there’s a qoute from Airbus:

“Airbus decided to implement virtual desktops to streamline end-user access and easily enable suppliers to access major applications [CATIA] supporting Airbus aircraft development. The power of the combined offering [from VMware and NVIDIA] will allow us to achieve even more efficient business cases.”


Citrix customers are also running CAD applications on virtual machines. This publication highlights ABB, Knightec, Whiha and Volvo Construction Equipment (we suspect).  

“Faced with the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy, these organizations are using virtual CAD desktops to provide their distributed workforce with access to apps and data from any location, on any device.”

Citrix also publishes which 3D applications are certified to run in Citrix’ virtual desktop environment. At the moment of this writing, 86 3D applications are supported. Check it here.

4- Great Demo's Found on YouTube

There are numerous clips on YouTube that show how well 3D applications run on virtual infrastructure.

One of our favorites is a clip of a big engine in Siemens NX, running on virtual infrastructure. 

Designairspace has published CAD and BIM applications running in their cloud. Here are two examples

PTC/Creo running in designairspace 

Sketchup Pro running in designairspace


5- Try it yourself 

The ultimate evidence is to run CAD in the cloud yourself. To this end, there are quite a few options.

They are:

Designairspace also offers free trials. You can test either a leading CAD application (PTC/Creo) or the super-popular BIM application SketchUP



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