Like in any other industries, partnership is not new among CAE players, big or small. Technical partnership usually creates a win-win situation; at least, this is the major intention of forming the partnership.
The two parties involved usually are not balanced: a big shark in the CAE or PLM market, and an almost unheard (for the majority of CAE users) name. For the smaller party, who usually has something special in a niche market, the partnership gives them a greater exposure to more potential customers; while for the bigger party, such a partnership can complement their product portfolios so that they can provide a broader solution.
An interesting example is the partnership between ANSYS and LSTC. Before ANSYS acquired Century Dynamics in 2005, they did not have their own explicit solver, while the major competitors, Abaqus and MSC, both had. So the partnership was critical for ANSYS to provide a full FEA solution. For LSTC, of course, ANSYS becomes one of their major distributors of their LS-DYNA solver. However, such a partnership becomes less important for ANSYS because they now have their own explicit solver (Autodyn).
So, just like any real-world relationships, the partnership is never eternal. Sometimes, it broke suddenly. For example, Dassault Systems just announced the acquisition of Simulayt Limited. Yes, you probably never heard of this Simulayt or Layup Technology, unless you are doing something closely related to composite materials. This acquisition will surely boost Dassault’s offering for aerospace, automobile, sports equipment and building industries. This is also a blow to some competitors who have a “partnership” with Simulayt, for example, Siemens PLM (Composites Modeler for Femap ) and MSC (Patran Laminate Modeler), although such partnership may still exist for some time.
Another example of the broken (very likely) relationship just happened about one month ago: MSC acquired Free Field Technologies. Again, most people never heard of this FFT unless you are doing some serious jobs on acoustics. This acquisition is a huge blow to ANSYS-FFT partnership. Based on product portfolios, actually, ANSYS is a better mate for FFT than MSC is. The ACTRAN is the perfect complement to ANSYS’ FEA and CFD solutions. Now do you believe ANSYS will market MSC’s ACTRAN?
In CAE industry, partnership is only a short-term solution for big players. If the offering from your partner is really a complement to your products, upgrade your partnership : acquire it, just like what Dassault did to Simulayt and MSC to FFT.
So, it comes to acquisition strategy. One is to strengthen your dominance in certain industry, for example, ANSYS acquired Ansoft in 2008 and Apache Design Solution this year (to strength the dominance in electronic industry). The other strategy is to extend your market, for example, Dsssult acquired Abaqus in 2005 to enter the top-level CAE market.