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RE: Web4engineers Emailer

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Gerry,
Web4Engineers appears to be a separate venture for REI's line of structural
engineering software. They are a NASDAQ listed International corporation -
listed as an Internet Technology based concern. Web4Engineers appears to be
an extension of REI's business which, from what I know of ASP's, requires a
large investment in servers and hardware to handle online applications. I
would think that companies who develop structural engineering software and
who are interested in ASP's but don't want to invest in the heavy hardware
requirement before determining the kind of market - will seek services such
as Web4Engineers to run their software. Personally, I think it is a pretty
good move for REI in that they can capture a good part of the market with
their STAAD line of products and still profit from their competitors
software by establishing an ASP software rental service.

I discussed this briefly with Bruce Bates who confirmed that he is
interested in seeing how well the professional community takes to working
with ASPs. I don't know any more about his business relationship with REI
although, I can tell you that Risa was not involved in the marketing of the
Web4Engineers services.

I have my doubts, but as I mentioned in one of my posts, my wife opened my
eyes to the short term needs that can satisfy an engineer who is familiar
with a software but does not want to purchase a full license and has only a
partial need. One example might be the Retaining wall programs. Let's assume
that you design five or ten walls a year and that you can purchase the
software for $600.00. If you design ten walls a year the software cuts into
your profit margin at $60.00 per job. If you design only 5 walls a year, the
amortization is now $120.00 per job (assuming a new program each year).
However, if the software rents for $10.00 a day and you only need it for a
few hours - this can be a very cost effective plan.

Next, assume you are a long term user of Autocad, but have decided not to
upgrade or purchase the latest version. Assuming further that your old
version of Autocad is no longer supported, you would have to dish out
$3,500.00 for a new license. Now you can rent it for $150.00 a month (if it
was available) and $5.00 a day for the changes and corrections you need.
This too may be a very good investment - even if you invested for three to
six months for learning curves.

What worries me is a minimum commitment - one year or longer with a "easy"
monthly payments. In this case, the deal creates expenses that may not be
needed if the software sites for three months without use. Although cheaper
than buying a full license, it still becomes a burden on the engineer if the
software does not become a productive tool. The worry grows when suddenly
everything we do from home entertainment, to work tools is sold by a monthly
license rather than a full license. The concern is that outs is not
necessarily a steady monthly paycheck but depends on the size of our
practice and the amount of work we take in and pump out. With licensing
fee's, we look for one or two good projects or at least a commitment of work
to justify the expense. However, if an annual contract is the minimum for
rental, then we risk not being able to amortize the cost over sufficient
work to make it a worthwhile expense over the purchase of an alternative
lower priced software capable of doing the same work.

In the end, ASP's and similar Internet based services become an "Internet
Utility" which is something like our monthly gas, electric and water
utilities. The difference is that there is less room for growth when the
monthly income becomes tapped out. If you can't pay your utility bill, it
gets shut off. If you can't pay for your software utilities, you are out of
business or seeking other creative financial solutions. In other words, the
ASP is a great benefit to the developers - low cost, low maintenance and
consistent income.

In the end it depends on how flexible the licensing agreements are for the
use of the product. I think it works best for the practitioner if the
software is licensed as needed - then it can be amortized by the job and
this, in my opinion, is much less risky.

So why is not written information made available on the same "as needed"
basis:o)

Regards
Dennis S. Wish, PE

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gerard Madden [mailto:GMadden(--nospam--at)mplusl.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2001 9:44 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: Re: Web4engineers Emailer
>
>
> Hi Rick,
>
> My main concern is the fact that I know I can't just say "I want
> to use COSMOS on this job", rent it from REI, and then do the
> work and produce a design. With all structural analysis software,
> there has to be a learning curve AND confidence that the results
> are accurate. Within the last 6 months, I have learned CSI's main
> three programs, Etabs, Safe, and SAP2000. After a month of using
> Etabs, I thought I was doing pretty good. Four months later, I am
> still learning the better methods of utilizing its capabilities.
> Each program has its own little nuances, modeling requirements,
> and input/output formats. This can takes months to master. I just
> can't see it being good to have a bunch of designs floating
> generated by first time software users.
>
> On the otherhand, programs like Enercalc might be different
> because they are relatively simple, common modules, that have
> easy input, and can be verified easily.
>
> Do you get the manuals? How about hardware locks. Is there a $2
> dollar late fee per day overdue?
>
> I generally don't mind getting emails regarding structural
> software upgrades and new products. It just seemed a little weird
> to me to get the REI email when they are promoting the use of
> Enercalc and COSMOS. Didn't REI also advertise something to the
> effect of " Hey architects, don't use engineers anymore, send us
> you design and we'll run it in STAAD for you and give you back
> all the output to decifer" Plus, a few months back emails were
> sent to this list indicating REI as the source, who promptly
> denied any involvement.
>
> Just my thoughts.
> -Gerard
> >>> rculean(--nospam--at)yahoo.com 05/09/01 09:09AM >>>
> Hi
>
> Funny...I was posing the same question earlier about
> renting apps online...then i got this email from the
> same company...I called them up and talked to their
> Bus Dev rep...it's all legitimiate...but it is not
> REI...apparently they have spun off another division
> called Web4engineers...they have agreements with RISA,
> Cadopia (I think they make Intellicad), SpaceGass,
> COSMOS and other Research prodcuts. They apparently
> share the same email server which is why it came from
> a Research email address. They split the revenues with
> each of the companies. What do you guys think? I know
> some of you engineers responded, but what about the
> following points:
>
> 1) Small businesses who don't want to buy a $20,000
> detailing package or a $50,000 FEM package (like
> NASTRAN or ADINA) but still need the power to do
> something for a particular job. I know we had to do
> some geo work for a battered pile once. Would havebeen
> nice if we could have rented L-PILE instead of buying
> a copy and billing the client.
>
> 2) Clients ask you to use a particular software.
>
> 3) Infrequent use of software in certain disciplines
> that we structural engineers need to dabble in once in
> a while
>
> 4) Don't have to worry about computer specs, hardware
> keys, etc.
>
> 5) Can access it from anywhere (multiple offices can
> centralize their software)...a lot of job trailers now
> have Internet access...
>
> What do you guys think? Our company is looking into
> this. We have 6 offices. Please let me know.
>
> Thanks
>
> Rick
>
> __________________________________________________
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