Over the past few years, PTC has gradually transitioned its offerings to an annual subscription format. As a result, the overwhelming majority of its customers have switched to this recurring revenue model. Now, PTC is hard at work moving its core products to Atlas, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that was acquired as part of Onshape. PTC’s core CAD solution, Creo, is next in line to make the move.

Atlas Platform: The Enabler

In December, 2021, PTC announced that it is working to transition all of its core products to Atlas. The SaaS-based platform already hosts Onshape and is now available for other PTC products, too. Atlas is a critical enabler in PTC’s effort to migrate its products to the cloud. And there are some interesting implications of moving Creo to Atlas.

Today, PTC’s customers rely on Creo to create complex products and systems. Many of them are adopting simulation to mitigate the rising complexity of modern products. They are also doing so early in the design process.

PTC’s partnership with ANSYS—and the tight integration between the two companies’ products—supports Creo users with their various simulation needs. With Creo moving to the cloud and Ansys already offering several of its products in the cloud, there is the potential for a new, and interesting interaction between the two solutions.

Note that, to date, PTC has not released any forward-looking statements about how Creo users can continue to access modeling and simulation functionality or how Ansys solutions will work with it. What follows is our perspective on what this interaction could look like and what value it could deliver to users. This post discusses the potential impact of Creo moving to the cloud, offering different ideas about how Creo users will leverage simulation products in a SaaS environment – whether offered by PTC partners like ANSYS or other solution providers.

Modeling in a SaaS Environment

First off, let’s focus on geometric modeling. Since Onshape is already in Atlas, it is possible that Creo users might be able to model using both Onshape and Creo. Certainly, both products have their respective strengths. Creo is known for its advanced functionality in many areas of modeling. Onshape, on the other hand, has an easy-to-use, intuitive modeling workflow. Customers may be able to use Creo alongside Onshape to leverage a remarkable set of modeling capabilities. Eventually, PTC could merge the two into a unified modeling environment.

Consider the following potential workflow: Creo’s surface modeling technology enables engineers to design complex surfaces. Designers could, in theory, bring these complex surface models into Onshape. Other design team members could then add other components to complete the design. Design engineers could also reverse the workflow—modeling the assembly in Onshape and then moving the design into Creo to add the complex surfaces required.

This type of workflow would suit many PTC customers, particularly those who work in large original equipment manufacturer (OEM) organizations. OEMs, traditionally, work closely with many suppliers right from the design stage. Onshape is a perfect fit for smaller and medium-sized suppliers that may not be able to afford expensive modeling solutions. If there is seamless integration between Onshape and Creo, everyone involved with the design would benefit.

Ideally, PTC could merge the two products, Creo and Onshape, into a single modeling platform. But whether that happens—and how current customers would like it—remains to be seen.

Simulation in a SaaS Environment 

Modeling on a cloud platform with Creo will soon be a reality for PTC customers. But it’s not clear how a cloud-based Creo would work with other simulation solutions that are also running in the cloud. Let’s speculate, for a moment, about how Creo might work with ANSYS solutions, which many design engineers already rely on for their simulation needs.

It’s no secret that PTC and ANSYS already have a solid partnership. The companies have strong synergies between their different products. ANSYS’ Discover simulation solution is even embedded inside Creo, sold, and supported as a Creo product. But that’s in the desktop version of Creo. When Creo transforms into a SaaS-based cloud solution, the synergies between these two products could change.

ANSYS has been developing ANSYS Cloud, its own cloud-based simulation platform. ANSYS Discovery can now be accessed on ANSYS Cloud by running an interactive in-browser session. Once Creo moves to the cloud, Creo users should be able to seamlessly perform simulations using the ANSYS Cloud solution. Such simulation solutions may be available on an on-demand basis, too.

The Atlas platform, which already supports payment, licensing, and other vital capabilities, could integrate current simulation workflows to support ANSYS cloud offerings. In doing so, such a workflow could cater to users’ simulation needs quite easily. In fact, when Creo migrates to the Atlas platform, users should have more simulation options to help them refine their designs. An examination of Onshape’s current simulation partners, including OnScale Solve, SimScale, and SimSolid, will help to envision the possibilities.

Benefits Offered by Integration Across Cloud Solutions

Moving forward, Creo users will have more modeling and simulation tools to support the design of complex products on a cloud-based platform. But the advantages don’t stop there.

Migrating the design process to the cloud allows companies to harness elastic computing resources available there. As an individual organization’s projects increase in complexity, it is challenging to predict the necessary computing needs. The cloud solves this issue by offering computing resources on demand. Organizations can get what they need, when they need it. And once those extra resources are no longer required, they can return them to the cloud solution provider with no further cost implications.

It’s also worth noting that simulation solutions are expensive. Buying them for a single project sometimes doesn’t make much economic sense. But SaaS-based simulation offers Creo customers the ability to access simulation products for only the required duration of a project. This low-cost option is incredibly appealing to manufacturers who are trying to conserve resources wherever possible.

Finally, this cloud-based approach also makes it easy for organizations to work with external collaborators like contractors and consultants. Companies will no longer need to hire full-time resources for their simulation needs. Cloud-based modeling and simulation set-ups, like what we expect PTC will offer on the Atlas platform, will make it easy to contract expertise when and where necessary. Organizations can manage future simulation needs as a service. Think of it like the gig economy model, where companies hire freelance web programmers, creative designers, copywriters, and other specialists when they need them.


As PTC migrates its Creo solution to the Atlas platform, many are wondering about the implications of the move for future modeling and simulation capabilities. In this post, we have offered our predictions for the workflow PTC Creo customers are likely to see once they start using the cloud for these tasks. 

Migrating Creo to the Atlas platform is likely to open up a world of modeling and simulation opportunities for PTC’s customer base. This strategy will allow PTC to offer best-in-class solutions for large OEMs, as well as small and medium-sized suppliers. This migration is right for PTC’s customers. And, ultimately, it should prove beneficial for PTC’s shareholders as well.