Autodesk Vault: Enterprise PDM or PLM?

I’ve been reading information stream from Autodesk Manufacturing Press Day 2011, which happened last week in Lake Oswgo, Oregon. My blogging buddy, Deelip Menezes put in his twitter stream the following question: Autodesk claims Vault in an enterprise class PDM system. How different is that from PLM?

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For the last time, I can see an increased amount of questions coming about Autodesk and their PLM strategies. Autodesk is strictly distant from Product Lifecycle Management. At the same time, the functional difference between modules of Autodesk software and mindshare PLM vendors becomes less distinct. Last week, I posted about my view on Autodesk MLP (management the lifecycle of products). Navigate on this following link to read this post and see video discussing capabilities of Autodesk Vault 2012.

What Others are Saying?

Autodesk and PLM topic is popular in publication and raises attention of analysts, bloggers and press. CIMData, PLM focused analytical company, published a research paper discussing Autodesk and PLM transition. Ralf Grabowski of WorldCAD Access, in his report from Autodesk Manufacturing Press Day 2011 wrote about what he called “PDM-not-PLM session”. This is my favorite passage from Ralf’s post:

…”enterprise PDM” appearing on the slide, but “PLM” is not being used? Vault is meant to handle CAD data across the enterprise, and customers might also use PLM, using Vault to populate PLM software. Yes, but you have lifecycle information in there… There are shades of gray, Autodesk says, where other software calls itself “PLM,” and there are things that Vault does not do that would be required of PLM.

PDM vs. PLM

This is a popular topic. Last year, I put few posts about my view on PDM vs. PLM from the different perspectives: data, process, integration. If you had no chance to read it, navigate to the following links. Read and make you opinion.

PDM vs. PLM: A data perspective
PDM vs. PLM: A process perspective
PDM vs. PLM: An integration perspective

Autodesk Vault: The Data and Lifecycle

In my view, Autodesk Vault is growing to the position of managing an increased scope of information in the company. I think, Autodesk customers, especially companies using the majority of Autodesk products, asking to expand Vault capability to support additional Autodesk products and to expand data management capabilities of Autodesk Vault. Theproduct information about Vault is focusing on data management, CAD integrations, collaboration, revision management and multi-site solution. This scope, in my view, covers pretty much what PDM components of PLM systems are capable to do. The potential difference with PLM systems can come on the level of advance data modeling. Vault is almost certainly cannot be compared with data management capabilities of TeamCenter, Enovia and Windchill. Lifecycle is another aspect. With some terminological difference between “revision” and “lifecycle”, I would expect Vault to support fewer processes process-oriented features. However, in the announcement about Autodesk Vault 2012, I had a chance to hear about multiple “process” enhancements.

What is my conclusion? Data Management and more specifically PDM is one of the core elements of every PLM strategy. PDM components included into a product portfolio of every mind share PLM vendors – Dassault, Siemens PLM and PTC. The ability of Autodesk Vault in the PDM space can be sufficient to play mainstream scenarios for many companies. Is it comprehensive enough to be compared with Enovia, TeamCenter and Windchill? I don’t think so. However, fewer features mean less complexity. This is an important differentiation, in my view. Terminology wise, I don’t think people take much care about TLA (three letter acronyms) these days. I can see Autodesk customers demands are beyond what vendors today call PLM. Just my opinion. YMMV…

Best, Oleg

[tag PDM, PLM, Autodesk, Autodesk Vault]

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