Migrations and PLM World

August 31, 2010

Microsoft announce SQL Server migration assistant for MySQL. It seems to me, Microsoft is thinking about how to expand their SQL tool’s market share. As a step towards this direction Microsoft is thinking how to provide an easy and smooth way to migrate from one data management system to another. I’m not an expert in database migrations. However, reading about Microsoft migration tools made me think about migration between different PLM and PDM systems in manufacturing world.

Reasons to Migrate

What if.. you want to migrate from one PLM system to another one? Such a situation is not completely rare and companies are moving between tools and product suites due to different things happens in PLM eco-system. Such a situation may happen as a consequence of M&A when companies are merging their IT stacks and PLM systems used by companies before or after acquisition. In addition, customers are deciding to move into a better tool – another "good" reason for migration. At the same time, there are multiple situations when customers need to migrate between PLM tools because vendors going out of business, software companies acquisitions and other reasons. What happens if you are migrating between systems, and you don’t have an appropriated tool? I decided to put few options that can give you some values in product migrations.

Migrate vs. Legacy

However, to migrate between systems is not a simple task. It takes time and requires a complex set of tasks to move data, change working processes and tools. In some situations, companies prefer to keep existing systems and use data inside as a legacy data. This cannot be considered as an excellent choice. However, in a business world, it can be a very reasonable compromise. Some PLM companies are providing federation systems that can help to maintain such situations.

Mashups

Another option to resolve the situation with outdated PLM/PDM system. You can decide to develop mashup applications. This is a very popular practice in the Web world. You can develop mashup applications to consume a data located in outdated or legacy PLM/PDM systems. The consumer (user) layer will be new and fancy. Behind the scene, the legacy system will be kept up and running.

ETL and Other Integration Tools

This is another way to handle a transition of data between your old PDM/PLM and a new one. ETL (extract-transform-load) tools can allow you to retrieve data in a variety of formats from databases and proprietary data sources, transform it and transmit into a target system.

What is my conclusion? I think, PLM migration topic is a very complicated one. Changes in multiple systems, different versions, customization and implementations made this space a bit messy. To put some lights into this space can be benficial for users and vendors.

Best, Oleg


PDM vs. PLM: An Integration Perspective

August 30, 2010

I’m continuing discussions about PDM vs. PLM differences. I’d encourage you to take a look on my previous two posts related to this topic: PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective and PDM vs. PLM: A Process Perspective. My next PDM vs. PLM comparison perspective is related to integration of PDM or PLM systems with other systems and processes in the organization.

Data Integration

For PDM, data integration is the ability to facilitate an exchange between product data records, other enterprise systems and extended value chain. The most important and very important is PDM – ERP integration. This integration provides an ability to exchange design, engineering and manufacturing data. For PLM data integration becomes more complex and needs to include an expanded set of application and data sources. Some of advanced data integration PDM projects are including federation of data between multiple systems.

Process Integration

When it comes to business and product development processes, both PDM and PLM systems can provide a significant influence on how these processes can be integrated. However, PDM system process scope is normally very limited and stay focused on engineering documents and data lifecycle. PLM process integration is focused on the ability of PLM system to have a tight connection with other processes. Most of them are ERP-based. These days it becomes more and more important to have a good support for integrated product development processes.

Social Integration

This is a relatively new aspect of integration and related to the ability of PLM system to be integration with social tools. Tools like Yammer and others represent a new class of tools helping people to collaborate in the organization. Both PDM and PLM systems provide a context for social tools. It can come as data about product, documents, changes processes and everything that helps to identify social relations. For example, by analyzing your product data, you can find a knowledge expert in a particular filed in the organization, etc.

What is my conclusion? Both PDM and PLM systems have very strong dependencies on their ability to be integrated within an organization. PDM integrations are oriented on data access, transfer and interoperability between a PDM and other systems in the enterprise. Data is the main focus of PDM integrations. It may include a different type of data integrations – manual, automatic, one or bi-directional data integrations. However, when it comes to Product Lifecycle Management, the scope of integration can be increased dramatically. It may include integration of processes, people and social context. The ability of PDM and PLM system to integrate what other systems and people in the organization are critical for successful implementations. This of the reasons why PDM and PLM implementations often fail in the organization.

Update: When I finished this post, I found a new post coming from Kurt Chen of Technology Evaluation Center. Kurt posted PDM vs. PLM A Matrix View. What I liked in Kurt’s post is the focus on the PDM/PLM need to be integrated with people and system in the manufacturing organization. This is a key in my view.

Best, Oleg


Oracle, Google and Aras’ 226% Growth

August 30, 2010

I read the following article “Oracle v Google: Why?“. I found it as a very deep analysis of the latest Oracle’s bold move against Google. It is hard to predict how this clash will be resolved and who will be a winner and loser or may be both. Read this article and make your opinion. My hunch is that there is a portion of the game related to Open Source. FOSS became stronger over the last years and drove multiple interest from vendors and user communities. Oracle (but not only) kingdom can be definitely impacted by a variety of Open Source initiatives growing in enterprise organizations these days.

In this context, I found a very interesting news came out of Open Source provider Aras:  Aras Momentum Accelerates Driving 226% Sales Growth in First Half 2010. Here is the quote from Aras’s PR: Aras’s strong performance is driven by the continued growth in worldwide adoption of the Aras Innovator suite, and demonstrates mainstream acceptance of the Aras enterprise open source model and advanced PLM technology by Fortune 500 / Forbes Global 2000 companies.

What is my take? Open Source is definitely a long term target in Oracle lawsuit against Google. This is a beginning of the fight against the Open Source. Google is an easy, but intermediate target. My conclusion – important.

Best, Oleg
Freebie. Aras didn’t pay me for this post.


Should PLM Disconnect Data from Process?

August 27, 2010

I had a chance to read an article byebizQ related to Cordys BPM. For those who is not aware - Cordys is a relatively new outfit in the enterprise software market. The wizard name behind this company is Jan Baan. If you are a long-time citizen in the enterprise software domain, you need his first ERP company - BAAN. These days Jan Baan is very active and Cordys is one of his new babies. In his interview, Jan is discussing his long project related to decoupling of processes. The following quote seems to me interesting:

… ending the data-process dependency is easier said than done. Suppliers attempted it using extremely fat clients at one extreme and sophisticated distributed data with replication at the other.

Process Decoupling

For a very long period of time the concept of “a process needs data” were dominant. Multiple BPM vendors claimed that the only way to make BPM successful is to bring meta-data (and other data) into BPM product suites. I can agree, this strategy seems to be successful if you plan is to create integrated enterprise software suites. However, thinking more about Internet technologies and lean architectures it makes much more sense to make a disconnection of data and process.

PLM: Process vs. Data

In my view, PLM Software vendors are definitely moving towards better vertical integration. Users are asking PLM companies for a better integration between products, and PLM (and not only PLM) companies are starting to couple products and solutions together to ensure customers will spend fewer resources tailoring these solutions.

What is my conclusion? I think, enterprise software vendors can miss the dangerous point of data and process connection and interplay. When most of the enterprise companies use data to lock-in customers in their product suites, the addition of processes seems to them as a natural continuation of this strategy. The real danger of these strategies is a large complicated software products and extremely high cost of changes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Autodesk, Data Management and “Why PLM?” Question

August 26, 2010

I read one of the latest VEKTORRUM re-posts about Autodesk and PLM. Navigate your browser to the following link and read the original article from 2007. According to the article - ” There are “more pragmatic, more digestible approaches” to solving engineering data management issues than PLM, he [Carl Bass] said”. It made me think more about Autodesk, data management and PLM strategies.

History

Let’s start from the history. Autodesk has a long history of data management solutions. It contains multiple products. Some of them were developed by Autodesk and for some of them Autodesk partnering with other companies. The most notable Document and Workflow Management system in early 1990s was Autodesk Workcenter (Google is tracking the following link on Autodesk Workcenter). I had a chance to work on few Autodesk Workcenter implementations, so I had my own Workcenter implementation memories going back in 1994-1995. The next big Autodesk data management project was Motiva PDM. Autodesk made a significant investment into Motiva project in the end of 1990s. You can track the following KMWord article – Autodesk and Motiva to Collaborate for PDM. Both, Workcenter and Motiva development were discontinued.

In the beginning of 2000s Autodesk acquired company truEInnovation. The original product truEVault was a foundation of existing Autodesk Vault. This is the Wikipedia quote:

Autodesk Vault was initially known as truEVault; part of an acquisition from a company called truEInnovations, Inc. based in Eagan, Minnesota. truEInnovations was started by two entrepreneurs, Brian Roepke and Dean Brisson in 1999. The company was founded on the basis of bringing a more affordable tool for managing engineering data to the market.

After the asset acquisition of truEInnovations by Autodesk in 2003, Autodesk began to further the integration of the product into the manufacturing product line, starting with Autodesk Inventor.

Autodesk’s Data Management Foundation

For the moment, Autodesk Vault is the foundation of all Autodesk Data Management products. After latest re-branding, Autodesk Vault is a family of PDM products providing a wide range of capabilities started from files vaulting and expanded into areas of Bill of Material Management and Engineering Change Management.

Autodesk is intensively working to provide additional data management features and functions. You can see a shortvideo of Brian Roepke about Autodesk Vault 2011:.

In the following video you can see a new Autodesk Vault 2011 integration with Inventor.

In my view, some of them are very similar to features presented by DS 3DLive and Siemens 3DHD products. See my post - 3DLive, 3DHD, 3D and UI efficiency.

Autodesk and PLM

Steve Wolf of Cyon Research recently published an article on COFES Blog - Who Needs PLM? (). In this article, Steve discussing the latest Autodesk financial results and

The following quote represents Steve’s comparison between Autodesk and other PLM-associated companies.

What’s interesting about Autodesk’s success is that the company’s products consist almost entirely of single-user desktop tools that engineers use to do their jobs faster. Relatively little of Autodesk’s income comes from what its rivals call “product lifecycle management” (PLM) software that combines engineering applications with fiendishly complex enterprise-level software for managing engineering data.

A different opinion presented by CIMData in their latest research paper focusing on how Autodesk will evolve into full-scope PLM provider. I had a chance to discuss this CIMData research before on my blog. This is the PLM think tank link. Take a look on the interesting quote from CIMData website:

... perspective on the transition that Autodesk is executing to transform itself from a supplier of individual PLM-focused point solutions to a supplier of industry-focused solutions that can be the fundamental platform for a company’s overall PLM strategy.

What is my conclusion? I think, Autodesk is going on a very narrow bridge and trying to connect customer’s demands to have a rich scope of data management functions and integration with design tools like Autodesk Inventor. At the same time, Autodesk is trying to avoid getting into positioning data management as a “PLM strategy”. The ugly truth, in my view, is that users are less interested in the TLAs these days and more thinking about products, functions and usability. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The Future of PLM Strategic Presentations?

August 25, 2010

Have you had a chance to see any PLM strategic presentation? I’m sure you did. You can find easy few of them by Google "PLM Strategy". How many times you’ve been looking on PLM strategic presentation and saying – hm, this is not exactly what I’m looking for. I was reading a USA Today article Graphic novel replaces business school text book yesterday. This is my favorite passage from this article:

"Textbooks are just plain boring," said Short, who is a professor of management at Texas Tech University. He said that standard business textbooks use a lot of disconnected examples and irrelevant stock photos, and he wanted to create something that would be "more like a movie," that would get the necessary points across while keeping students engaged.

PLM Presentations Boring?

A lot of PLM presentations are boring and can be predicted from the beginning. They contain a lot of pictures of products such as cars, planes, fashion and electronic to keep people eyes on it, but contain a little meaningful information. They are using complicated terminology that needs to be decoded and translated. Customer testimonials are also following strict and old fashioned way.

How To Engage with People?

The USA Today article made me think about a significant shift that needs to be made in the way we are presenting Product Lifecycle Management. I’d like to come with some ideas that can help to create a better PLM presentation:

1. Keep it short, focus on a single use case or benefit.
2. Use rich media – video, online slide presentation materials.
3. Interview customers and publish it.
4. Use comic video to explain what you are doing (Google is a master of such videos).

What is my conclusion? I think, what is important is to remember 7 seconds rule of attention. You need to keep person’s attention for the first 7 seconds. I think social media today provided a lot of examples how to do so. We need to learn how to use it. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Social Connections

August 25, 2010

I’m continuing to explore various aspects of relations between PLM and social systems and tools in my blog. The social topic becomes interesting. However, I think social hype contains lots of misunderstandings and misconception. Few days ago, I had healthy debates with Chris Williams of Vuuch about PLM Social Detours. Chris is saying “PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users”. This is the exact point I want to discuss today. The additional trigger to this conversation was the information about Cisco Pulse – a new tool developed by Cisco to empower people in an organization.

How To Connect People in Organization?

One of the latest innovations in Cisco related to adoption of social systems to empower people connection @work. Take a look on the following Cisco Pulse presentation.

Cisco Pulse presentation made me think about missing “social link” in the way PLM systems drive their enterprise adoption. For the moment, PLM relies completely on process management practices to expand usage of PLM tools in the enterprise. This is what drive people involvement into a product-related processes. However, this approach is absolutely ignoring the reality of communication between people in the manufacturing organization. The formal way to organize processes is probably not the best way to organize your work. There is a need to find a new way to build more efficient communication and collaboration in product development, manufacturing, support and maintenance.

Need for PLM Mainstream Adoption

The core idea of PLM is to provide a business strategy and tools to manage processes related to product development. One of the people concerns about PLM is “mainstream adoption”. PLM tools considered as too expensive and complicated to be adopted and used by all people involved into a relevant business process. There are multiple reasons why PLM got the status of “a privileged system”, and I covered and discussed it before on PLM Think Tank. As an example, take a look on one of my previous posts -  3 Main Factors of Mainstream PLM adoptions. It seems to me by bringing a “social connection” factor into PLM game can become one of the possible ways to expand PLM influence and level of adoption in organizations.

Social Connection vs. Follow a Friend

We are very familiar with “follow a friend” concept that drives mainstream adoption of social networks in consumer space. However, the very valid question when it comes to implementation of social systems in the enterprise organization is simple – who are my “friends”? Collaboration is not about friendship. Collaboration is about how to work with right people in the organization. They will become your “social connections”. And they are not constant. Your connections change all the time depends on work you are currently involved in.

What is my conclusion? I’m thinking about last 10 years of the internet and Web 2.0 innovation. It can bring some fresh air in the way people can collaborate and communicate in the enterprise manufacturing organization. PLM spent significant amount of time trying to formalize business processes and collaboration. It comes as a set of business process tools and industry and best practices. However, the complexity of the implementation is still very high. By bringing “a social connection” to PLM we can introduce a new way for people to collaborate. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Enterprise Integration Game

August 23, 2010

Manufacturing company enterprise landscape becomes more and more complex every year. Companies are implementing new products and versions of existing products. PLM is one of them. One of the questions asked by any IT organization is how all products can be connected and integrated to support organization’s business processes. Historically, integration business, was considered as a very complicated. To solve a problem of system integrations with significant dependencies is not a simple task. The issue of PLM integration seems to me important. PLM business interest to support product-lifecycle related processes are heavily dependent on how PLM system will be able to maintain multiple integrations with enterprise systems – ERP, CRM, ECM, SRM, etc. The PLM’s rivals in this space is definitely ERP system. Many times, I had a chance to see how PLM – ERP integrations became one of the key topics to be resolved to improve product lifecycle management across the organization.

ERP Integration Challenges

ERP itself experiencing significant challenges in the space of "enterprise integration". As a consequence of multiple diverse integration made by key ERP players in this space, the question of integration becomes an internal ERP problem. The key challenger in this space is Oracle with their multi-year, multi-billion program of Oracle Fusion. However, other players such as SAP and Infor are also deeply in their "integration tasks". I recently read an article -Infor on track to trump Oracle in the integration game. Both, Infor and Oracle are making broad statements with regards to seamless enterprise integrations. Here is Infor’s passage:

“Infor ION services are designed to enable companies of all sizes to benefit from advanced yet simple application integration, business process management and shared data reporting.”

Enterprise Integration and PLM Focus

As part of their enterprise integration initiatives (Fusion Platform), Oracle is trying to bring more value into the PLM offering as well. Navigate your browser on this link to see a glimpse of integration architecture proposed by Oracle. Also, take a look on Oracle blog about Fusion Integration practices and you will learn how Oracle is planning to leverage Fusion platform to integration their Agile PLM. Does it make sense to me? Yes, it does. However it seems to me so 1990s…

What is my conclusion? PLM integration game can get back. I haven’t seen any significant announcement coming out of mindshare PLM vendors related to strengths of their integration capabilities. PLM vendors were too focused on the unification of their internal architectures in the past. At the same time, I can see PLM competition at the high-end customer segment will become stronger in coming years. With an urgent need to deliver results, PLM companies will turn their focus on win backs of big accounts. This is a place where PLM will need their integration technologies to fight against ERP vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Bottom Up Option

August 20, 2010

The following publication in VEKTORRUM got me to review again a book “3D Manufacturing Innovation” by Dr. Hiroshi Toriya. I had a chance to read this book last year and it contains some very impressive examples every PLM software company need to learn. The book is pricey. As alternative, navigate your browser on Google Book link and you will have about 30% of this book for free. This book and Randal’s post – “3D Manufacturing Innovation- Explains the Japanese Quest for an Alternative to PLM” made me think about PLM strategies that were developed over the last decade and their potential improvements.

3D Master Top-Down
This is a dominant concept used today for Product Lifecycle Management. It supported by mindshare PLM leaders (Dassault, PTC, and Siemens PLM). Their strategies as well as portfolios are aligned straight from the CAD / 3D products, and they built infrastructure to manage and proliferate in 3D information downstream. Dassault is the dominant in their vision of 3D for all, PTC and Siemens PLM, in my view, provide more balanced between CAD/3D and Process orientation. As a consequence of competition with major ERP vendors, PLM mindshare companies are shifting towards better modeling of downstream data, engineering and manufacturing options as well as industry businesses.

Process is King
This model supported by PLM companies that have roots in ERP domain. 3D is definitely not the strongest side of their portfolio. So, building their product with “a process in mind” makes a lot of sense to them. These companies can be leverage a very strong enterprise architecture and infrastructure. By doing so, they can provide a support for development and manufacturing process. The advantage and disadvantage of this approach is a very weak connection to design and 3D data. Therefore, we had a chance to see investments of ERP companies in acquisition of 3D viewing technologies.

Bottom Up Approach
Both approaches – “3D Master” and “Process is King” are very focused on top down methodologies. This is, in my view, a significant weak point. What if we need to move from top down approach to bottom up? Dr. Hiroshi Toria mentioned in his something that can be considered as an alternative bottom up when 3D data will be accumulated by company in a central database and access by everybody. Here is a quote from his book:

What is my conclusion? PLM is one of the strategies that introduced by software companies to improve design and manufacturers. It was adopted by manufacturing companies. However, it faces a significant criticism. There are two main criticisms – (1) need to make a reform in a company in one day and (2) complex implementation following this decision. I can see multiple alternatives on the table. One of them is a top down approach and decline in a massive 3D CAD top down dominance in PLM implementation. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Think Tank July’s Top 5

August 19, 2010

Summer is vacation time. I spent first week of August in Orlando Disney Word with family and my photo camera. I’d like to share few of my pictures taken there.

If you are interested to see more of my pictures, navigate your browser to the following link. Now, let me get you to the PLM Think Tank July’s top five list.

PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective

In this post I started a discussion about one of the most confusing topics related to PLM – What is a difference between PDM and PLM? Here is my short brief from this post: The ugly truth of enterprise software – it is all about data and the control over the data. It appears in every solution. It is all about what data you manage, how do you keep your customers accessing and processing this data?. PLM is the attempt to manage data in the much broader scope than PDM. It creates lots of benefits from the standpoint of data completeness and, at the same time, created many overlaps in data management solutions in enterprise organizations. The PDM vs. PLM posts will continue and last week I posted my “PDM vs. PLM: A Process Perspective“.

PLM, BOM, Excel – How To Make It Right?

I’m getting back to the “Excel stories” this month too. Some PLM companies started to understand that they can build some business around preparing your future Excel to PLM migration. I’m covering one of these stories in this post. I think, MS Excel is a big deal for PLM companies. Customers are voting for Excels. PLM vendors may understand that their previous “Export To Excel” strategy was wrong, and they need to change it now. The competition with Excel will be growing as much as PLM vendors will be trying to expand their solutions to be used by more people in companies. So, give away some Excel templates can be a very good idea.

Top 3 Elements of Successful Social PLM Strategy

Here is my dive into “social PLM” ocean. Facebook and other social software generated a massive trend in enterprise applications. This trend will impact everything that PLM is trying to accomplish for years. I can see many Facebook-clones today. Creating a successful Facebook-clone will require to understand the content and specific characteristics of enterprise and PLM applications. I’m discussing various aspects of applying social strategies in PLM space.

How To Define PLM?

In this post, I’m catching discussion on a very big topic. What is the definition of PLM? I presented two very orthogonal definitions coming from PLM journalist and PLM mindshare vendor. This post caused multiple comments and discussions in LinkedIn forums. I’m planning to come with new post very soon on the same topic summarizing all I learned so far.

PLM and Legacy Data

Legacy data rarely coming into PLM strategic discussions. However, I think, legacy data is important. The amount of data is growing in the exponential manner. To handle legacy data and systems is a very painful task. Each time we come with new systems, the problem of legacy data comes up again. PLM needs to learn to handle foreign lifecycle data or lifecycle data produced by previous versions of PLM systems. It seems to me as a very important functionality that almost missed today.

Best, Oleg


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