Can companies save fixed and dead investment on Expensive workstations esp for advanced CAD applications?
I work for a VAR company of SolidWorks. Hope this answers some of your question.
To use and run a CAD application fast and efficiently you need a good computer with a good graphics card. Nobody wants to create parts and assemblies using a computer that is slow because that in itself is wasting time and money of the company. When using CAD software nowadays like SolidWorks the program has to be run and have an activated license running on the machine you are working on it's just the way the CAD software is set up to be used and there is no indications that it will change soon.
But then again there is a limit to what is seen as good computer for modelling only and a computer that is capable of running simulations efficiently.
To run simulations and high end renderings you require a much more powerful computer but like you say it is not necessary to invest in such a computer if 3/4 of the time that is not the computer's main function so in fact it is a wasted investment.
The other option that we apply in our company at the moment is that we each have very capable mid range workstations when it comes to modelling and then we have a remote computer dedicated to solving simulations and renderings. We remotely log in to that computer load an run the simulation or rendering and then continue on our own computer with other tasks. That computer is much more powerful and it's dedicated function is to be a solver and the whole office has access to using it's capabilities.