Can Frame make cloud CAD & PDM irrelevant?

November 27, 2015


Few months ago, I discussed Frame – a technology to bring your existing CAD and maybe PDM / PLM environment into the cloud. My earlier post is here – Frame and bridge to CAD / PLM cloud. The advantages of Frame are clear – same software, no need to change and re-architecture things. However, it comes with price. In case of CAD, users will keep existing paradigm of file storage. It will require some additional effort to enable collaboration between users (feature that usually comes natively with cloud CAD platforms today). I can see some opportunity for PDM vendors to run existing PDM/PLM platforms using However, the architecture of such deployments as well as customization / configuration can be tricky.

I raised a question about PDM cloud installation using Frame environment on Design & Motion blog few months ago. I was happy to see that my question caught an interest. Michael Thomas is sharing his experience about installing and configuring AutoCAD and Autodesk Vault using Frame for Business. Blog is here – it has a very good technical coverage of what do you need to do, including some potential pitfalls.

Here is my favorite passage from the blog:

This proves that Product Data Management(PDM) is possible “in the cloud,” at least within Frame. I was expecting much more effort to make this work, but there wasn’t, it was not different than setting it up in the office. Other than enabling the Utility Server and capturing my desired App Persistence, I did not require Frame Support… all the hooks were already in place. This is a real testament to the robustness of their offering.

I think, it creates an interesting dilemma for users. As an individual engineer or small design or manufacturing firm, I can install existing software (for example Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Vault) using Frame and move to the cloud (hopefully) without much pain. At the same time, Autodesk is providing “cloud” native configuration of of integrated CAD software – Autodesk Fusion 360, which includes PDM functionality. AutoCAD 360 is available as well integrated with Autodesk A360 for data management. So, which one is preferable? And the most important is what are benefits of new cloud development if problem can be solved using technology like Frame?

While thinking about how to answer on that question, I came to Develop3D article – How is design software changing? It is a commentary on recent Al Dean’s presentation at Techsoft3D event in Munich. Al’s presentation is not publicly available, but the name – Design and the Cloud: Same Soup (Reheated) speaks for itself. Read the following passage:

The premise was that, looking at the systems I’ve personally used over the last twenty years, a theme emerges. If you break those systems down and compare them to what is considered ‘state of the art’ today, there’s not a huge difference. Parametric modelling, surface modelling and yes, simulation, are all common factors of the old and the new. Yes, in the ‘old’ days, you could generate associated drawings. And yes, you could connect to data wherever you were — although it was a lot less quick and easy than it is today. Essentially, my thesis is that the only real difference is cost — both in terms of the software/service itself and the hardware we run it on.

If I look from Al’s perspective on a dilemma of choosing between Inventor/Vault and Fusion360, the question would be only cost. I use Autodesk products as an example, but similar thing can be said about Solidworks and SolidEdge CAD/PDM bundles too. I guess usability and functions are important. While old desktop UI can be not obvious choice especially if you try modern mobile/ touch devices, it can be perfectly fine to operate using laptop and desktop.

However, cost is a very tricky thing, especially when you want to compare cloud software service with sales of licenses and software CDs . Operation of cloud service can be costly. Installing and running virtual desktops and especially PDM servers with low utilization can become costly too. Which makes a comparison between native cloud services and old client server environments deployed using virtual machines not simple as you can think from the beginning.

What is my conclusion? It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison between new native cloud tools and virtual cloud environment using existing cloud-server CAD/PDM bundles. My hunch – Frame doesn’t change much in the way future cloud technologies will evolve. However, it can stress the economical points and efficiency of new cloud developments to compete with “bridge solutions” between CAD desktops and full-cloud CAD. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

A piece of cloud in data center- SaaS PLM path to large manufacturers?

November 25, 2015


All PLM vendors can delivery some sort of cloud solutions today. You can see my recent update to PLM cloud service comparison here. You can see solutions are simply divided between SaaS services and Hosted products.

Hosted solution are dominant since majority of vendors are simply upgrading and adjusting existing platforms to run in the virtual environment like AWS EC2, Microsoft Azure or using private hosting service providers. It seems to me a favorable competitive position for established PLM platforms. Majority of existing PLM customers are large companies and my hunch that IT departments are feeling comfortable with “hosting” message. It is cloud buzzword compliant and provide some sense of safety at the same time.

PLM SaaS vendors are talking about “true cloud”, but essentially it comes down to supported functionality and cost. CAD integration story is creating an additional mess for “true cloud” PLM SaaS companies. The cloud PDM story is not complete for PLM SaaS to compete with integration provided by hosted platforms.

So, what can change a status in this competitive standing between PLM SaaS and hosted PLM? Is there something that can bridge two options? My attention was caught by Oracle announcement – Oracle Private cloud machine for PaaS and IaaS.

Enterprises looking to combine the agility of the public cloud and the control of their data centers finally have a solution—Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS. The best of both worlds is coming soon to a data center near you.

To address this dilemma, Oracle CTO and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS at OpenWorld 2015. This new platform allows enterprises to combine the cloud benefits of agility, simplicity, and low operational cost with the control and security of running applications within their own data centers. Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS will be an on-premises Oracle Cloud Platform running the exact same software and hardware as Oracle Cloud and will offer 100 percent compatibility with Oracle Cloud. Using a platform deployed at the customer’s data center, Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS will deliver the identical PaaS and IaaS software used on the Oracle Cloud, enabling customers to address their specific business or regulatory requirements, data control, and data location requirements.

The following video shows Oracle’s Larry Ellison speaking on the stage of OpenWorld 2015 conference.

It made me think that OPCM for PaaS and IaaS (such a crazy name) can be an option as a path PLM vendors to combine both “hosting” and SaaS world. It is a pure speculation, but imagine SaaS vendors taking their “only SaaS” available environment deployed to private cloud environment. It can open a new competitive niche for them. At the same time, traditional PLM solutions (Enovia, Teamcenter, Windchill and Aras) can think about future SaaSification of their solutions and taking advantage of public cloud. The last is questionable – none of these solutions are multi-tenant for my best knowledge.

What is my conclusion? Oracle is trying to merge two words – SaaS and Hosted environment by providing infrastructure to deliver identical solutions using both public and private cloud. It is probably a good news for SaaS vendors, since it can provide a potential path to deliver existing PLM SaaS solutions to large manufacturing companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Mobile PLM will be a set of interconnected apps with deep links

November 24, 2015


Mobile devices have changed the way we live for the last 5 years. A decade ago, I was perfectly satisfied with the mobile email on my Blackberry. Everything else was on my desktop or laptop. Not any more. Now when everyone has a smartphone, Apps is a central place of the universe.

You have a problem, so there is an app for that. Everyone get this. So, eventually we had a gold rush of mobile app development for the last few years. But, here is a problem. We don’t use all these apps.

Business Insider article Having an app isn’t enough: The next phase of mobile now that everybody has a smartphone speaks about a new reality of mobile applications. Despite the number of mobile apps is increasing people are downloading and using the same amount of apps.


Another interesting thing I capture is related to the way apps are interconnecting. It called deep-linking. The following passage provides a good explanation of how it supposed to work.

Companies like Google and Facebook are looking to deep-linking as the new way to move between apps. For example, if you’re looking for a restaurant, you may search to find the right restaurant, but then want to look at their Yelp reviews. If a consumer has downloaded an app, Google’s deep-linking will prompt the person to open the app, rather than forcing them to open it from the phone’s home screen. “If the user has the app on the phone, let them navigate to the app from wherever they are…. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t hit a dead end and have a bad experience,”

It made me think about PLM applications and mobile development. I can see two trends here. The initial push from most of PLM vendors was to develop mobile application which does more or less the same as a desktop or web application. Today we have it done by most of PLM vendors. Here are few examples – Siemens PLM Teamcenter, PTC Windchill mobile or Autodesk PLM360 mobile. Another trend was to create many apps. Look for examples here – Autodesk mobile apps.

But none of these options can provide an answer on how mobile applications are interconnected and provide a specific solution to “mobile moments” that users might have. Some of my thoughts are here – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments. Here are few examples of mobile moments from different fields:

To succeed in your customer’s mobile moments, you must understand their journey and identify their needs and context at each potential moment. Then design your mobile application to quickly provide just what’s needed in that moment. Get information on a product while in a Best Buy store. Use a tablet to show a doctor a new Medtronic device. Retrieve maintenance history for a GE wind turbine.

What is my conclusion? I think we can see a new eco-system of mobile applications developed in front of our eyes. Deep linking between applications will be a way to keep mobile application focused on a specific problem (mobile moment), but at the same time to connect mobile application so customers won’t be required to discover applications from their mobile phone home screen. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

How real is the case for Global Part Number System?

November 23, 2015


Last week at PI Congress in Boston, I attended the presentation – Utilizing Industrie 4.0, IoT and Related Platforms to Boost a More Interdisciplinary Approach to Product Lifecycle by Dr. Martin Eigner. Industry 4.0 is a trending topic together with IoT, but what caught my special attention is actually part of presentation speaking about interdisciplinary approach in PLM.

The complexity of products is growing and we need to expand a horizon of management information about product beyond current boundary. This is a main point behind future BoM – integrated and interdisciplinary.


The future system, according to Dr. Eigner, will have a capability to span wide between requirements planning down to the manufacturing resources and process.


I like the idea and think it very powerful vision. One of the thing Dr. Eigner mentioned in his presentation was related to the fact future belongs to global part numbers. It made me think more about Part Numbers, Identification and classification.

I wanted to bring my 2 years old blog first- The future of Part numbers and Global Identification. In a current manufacturing environment, product information is going beyond borders of your company and even beyond your stable supply chain. The diversity of manufacturers, suppliers, individual makers combined with increased amount of e-commerce is creating the need to use product identification more broadly and maybe in more synchronized and standard way.

I’ve been watching the development of Product schema as part of This is probably one of the most interesting publicly accepted product definition schema used online. Pay attention it uses GTIN.

On the opposite side of the world, enterprise systems – PDM, PLM and ERP are making a case for insignificant Part Numbers. My recent blog – Why to use significant part numbers in 21st century raised a wave of discussion online and offline.

The main point I captured in this discussion is related to database identifiers and product classification. It seems to me, most of people are missing these two things. The reality of all PDM / PLM systems today is RDBMS. In this database driven world, most of PLM systems are preferring not to expose identification outside and lose control of identification assignment. It simplifies logic especially when it comes to mapping of data between different systems and change management.

So, how systems are going to survive in the future manufacturing networks? In the future, data is going to be even more intertwined between domains and systems. It will be hard to survive without stable identification and it will make a case to create global part numbering schema for systems to rely on for future operation.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is getting more complex, connected and dependent on multiple organizations and systems. In such environment, global part numbering system can provide a potential pain relief to integrated multiple systems in an organization (requirements, software configuration management, PDM, PLM, ERP) as well as to provide a foundation for future network of manufacturers and suppliers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture with PNs credit to eBay link



PLM IoT platforms: complexity and data scale

November 20, 2015


Manufacturing companies, analysts and software vendors are sharing excitement about huge potential of IoT and connected products. This is a very good news – I love the idea of things getting connected and optimized. I wish manufacturing industry will operate as smooth as my Waze navigation system by checking road condition, traffic jams and informing me in a following way – changing route, new ETA is 19:40p, you saved 5 min.


So, I’m dreaming about about product lifecycle management system that can tell me – “there is a better component selection for chosen BoM configuration, you saved 12’300$ in the next production batch“. This is probably still a dream in 2015.

However, dreaming during this Friday morning, made me think about complexity and scale of data problem can be discovered in order to make manufacturing work similar to way Waze navigation system works.

Yesterday, I shared some of my thoughts about how future of IoT – digital twin can crash PLM platforms with the scale of data. I want to continue this discussion with two examples I captured earlier this week during PI Congress event in Boston.

The first example came from Airbus presentation made by Tristan Gegaden, Head of Operation of PLM Harmonization Center. He spoke about leveraging of data in a modern digital environment and scale of data. Below you can see few data points about A350 digital model – 3 million part instances in 30’000 configurable items. This is just a single aircraft model.



The second example came from the Ford presentation made by Gahl Berkooz, Head of Data and Governance, Ford Motor Company. In his presentation he spoke about big data driven PLM systems and Hadoop based data technologies Ford is planning to use for data analytics. The following pictures shows how much data Ford vehicles are generating and comparing it to Google data scale. Actually, Google looks a smaller case of Ford data complexity.



What is my conclusion? I think, there is misalignment between “grand strategies” of future IoT driven PLM environments, digital twins, etc. on one side and data platforms and technologies PLM systems are using today in production. The future data scale of IoT enabled manufacturing products (starting from very complex avionic systems and ending up with connected toothbrushes collecting information about every single person combining it with your health history and adapting your dental insurance rate) can be overwhelming. A note before weekend for PLM IoT architects and technologists. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Digital Twin – an extended version of as-maintained BoM that will crash PLM platforms?

November 19, 2015


IoT is a huge technological and marketing buzzword these days. IT is enabled by internet communication, broad adoption of sensors and new data management technologies. Although you can see “examples” of IoT technology appearance everyday in consumer and industrial implementation, it is sometimes very hard to see how does it fit existing product development environment and operations. One of the marketing buzzwords connected to IoT is digital twin – a digital representation of physical product.

An orphan Wikipedia article provides a vague definition of what is digital twin:

Digital twins is a way to use 3D modeling to create a digital companion for the physical object.[1][2][3] It can be used to view the status of the actual physical object, which provide a way to project physical objects into digital world. Usually sensors are installed on different positions of the physical object, and these sensors will collect data and feed it back to the 3d modelling software through Internet of Things. This technology falls into augmented reality category. The digital twin is usually identical to the physical object not only on shape but also on positioning, gesture, status and motion.

Some roots of Digital Twin early definitions are going back to 2003. You can read more about it in the whitepaper by Dr. Michael Grieves – Digital Twin: Manufacturing Excellence through Virtual Factory Replication.

The Digital Twin concept contains three main parts: a) physical products in Real Space, b) virtual products in Virtual Space, and c) the connections of data and information that ties the virtual and real products together. In the decade since this model was introduced, there have been tremendous increases in the amount, richness, and fidelity of information of both the physical and virtual products.

All PLM vendors are adopting “digital twin” lingo in their marketing messages. PTC made “digital twin” part of their marketing story at LiveWorx event earlier this year.

At the same time, you can see examples of digital twin marketing messages coming from Siemens PLM and Dassault Systemes too. Although earlier this week at Dassault 3DXForum in Boston, Dassault called it “virtual twin“. I’m not sure see the difference.

Going beyond marketing, you can find interesting information about IoT technologies practical usage by many industrial companies these days. I found few interesting examples in GE Report.

The discussion around IoT and digital twin made me think about how does it fit product development lifecycle and existing data structures from both sides – manufacturing companies and customers. I think I found how to match it. I captured it during yesterday think tank session at PI Congress in BostonManaging the Enterprise Bill of Material – A Case Study From Concept to Retirement by Capgemini. The following picture represents an ideal enterprise BoM information structure.


One of the elements in enterprise BoM information is so called “as-maintained” BoM represents the information about product instances delivered to customers. Usually it includes serial numbers and related information about specific product. It can also contain digital 3D information about real product and many additional elements of data. If you apply IoT thinking to that, you can think about connecting information coming from sensors and many other elements of data representing real product behavior.

What is my conclusion? IoT technologies are bringing new content into existing definition of “as-maintained” BoM such as information about how product behaves in a real life and how customers are using product. It is an interesting twist to what traditionally was considered as an information about products, parts and serial numbers. It can bring another problem – IoT data will blow up traditional PLM databases. So, the question about capabilities of existing PLM platforms to maintain the amount of information demanded by modern IoT technological landscape is the one we should pay attention to if IoT is on your roadmap. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit GE report.


Re-Imagining PLM for the future business

November 18, 2015


I had a chance to speak at PI Congress Boston yesterday. The topic of my presentation was to raise awareness about misalignment between major mature PLM platforms, realities of manufacturing business today and new technological and business platform – internet.

Environment and technologies are changing fast. Over the past 10-15 years internet, cloud and mobile made a revolution in the way we live. Businesses have the same demand to leverage technologies to improve their operation, but not only. The technological shift is so fundamental that it changes the nature of business environment, disrupting existing companies and business models.

Internet is a new platform for business. Those companies that understood the transformative level internet as a platform brings to manufacturing will succeed in the future business. There are multiple examples of how re-imagining enterprise software. It won’t happen overnight. The approach we can see in the enterprise is to innovate by segment. Don’t try to replace a complete enterprise software landscape, but replace a specific process. Few examples – payment process, customer care process, Visitor management process, etc.

Internet is also changing the nature of products and business opportunity in front of manufacturing. It comes down to the ability not only sell hardware, but also selling software services based on this products. Together with that we can see significant trends changing value chain and production economics. In parallel, the demand of customers today is to get personally configured products. The era of mass-customization is coming.

The reality of major PLM platforms today is the fact most of technologies and platform foundation is going back to 1990s. All PLM platforms are presenting so called ORM (object relational modeler) on top of RDBMs technologies. Nothing wrong with RDBMs, but last 10-15 years of web, cloud and internet developed created lot of new technologies that can better fit the new reality of business and technological environment.

Existing PLM platforms reached a plateau – slow ROI, costly, slow to bring new features and changes. SMEs do not have the resources to throw at large evaluation and deployment projects and larger companies are dissatisfied with a technology that has changed very little in the 10-20 years since its roll-out and offers limited short-term ROI.

You can see below slide deck of my presentation.

What is my conclusion? The disconnect between customer demands and platform capabilities has led to the need to ask some very important questions as to the future of the PLM industry and the need for change to avoid extinction. Existing PLM paradigm represents a major conflict between the way companies are operating in the reality of internet driven enterprise. It brings a new to re-think the way we manage data and business processes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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