PLM Excels and Microsoft Cloud Office 365

June 28, 2011

Do you know what is the most widely adopted PLM system in the world? You probably can guess based on the title of this blog post – Microsoft Excel. I’ve been writing about Microsoft Excel and PLM many times.

PLM Excel Spreadsheets: From Odes to Woes
Why Do I Like My PLM Excel Spreadsheet?
Do We Need Chief Excel Officer To Manage BOM?

Microsoft just released Office 365 in the cloud:

Earlier today, I was reading details about Microsoft new cloud offering. Navigate to the following link to read – Microsoft puts Office in the ‘cloud,’ confronts Google. What is the story? For many years, Microsoft was leading in Office space selling Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook to individuals and enterprises. The market share of Microsoft Office products is huge. However, for the last couple of years, Google succeeded to introduce a strong cloud competition to Microsoft Office products – Google Apps. To compete with them, Microsoft is placing Office product in the cloud for a very competitive price. This is a very interesting quote from Reuter blog post:

Google, which has had the most success in the small and medium-sized business range, says there are now 40 million users of online Google Apps suite. Microsoft does not publish equivalent numbers, but research firm comScore has estimated 750 million people worldwide use Office in some form.

PLM and Office in the Cloud

So Office is hearing in the cloud. What does it mean for manufacturing companies and PLM vendors? One of the most problematic side effects of working with Office and specifically with Excel was the ability to share data and collaborate between different people in an organization. Separate Excel files, even if you put them in the shared drives, are very bad for this. Multiple PLM systems were focused on how people can work collaboratively sharing information about drawings and bill of materials. With the introduction of Office 360 and growing competition of Google, PLM companies can find their collaborative solution with cloud collaboration supported by Excel running on cloud. Microsoft is emphasizing how Office 365 will be used by small and medium customers first. As you can see on the picture below – it is just $6 /month.

What is my conclusion? I don’t think, PLM vendors will be in a real jeopardy because of Microsoft Office moves to the cloud and competing with Google Apps. Large manufacturing companies are complicated, and PLM vendors sit deep inside with the implementation of complex PLM product suites. However, what happens with hundreds of these that are running Microsoft Excel as their PLM system? Time to make some thinking and calculations. Important…

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

Autodesk, SolidWorks and Collaboration Renaissance

June 28, 2011

Brian Roepke of Autodesk brought my attention to Autodesk Nitrous Lab Project earlier this week. The context of this comment was about some Autodesk viewing technologies that don’t require any flash or plug-in. So, I decided to put my hands on Autodesk Project Nitrous this morning. When I’m still trying to figure out what is that viewer technology Autodesk is using there, Nitrous made me think about what is going with collaboration and cloud.

SolidWorks n!Fuze – PLM Collaboration Renaissance

Few months ago, I’ve posted about SolidWorks n!Fuze – a new cloud service coming from SolidWorks to help share and collaborate between engineers. I found interesting the way SolidWorks were planning to introduce this service. On the fundamental level, it is not introducing any particular new functions – you can load SolidWorks files and share them. So, what is new? The cloud storage based on Enovia V6 and completely new user experience.

SolidWorks n!Fuze was in Beta testing few months after SolidWorks World 2011. I had a chance to play with that. The user experience was good. The service is not available now. According to the information provided during SolidWorks World, it will be released later this year.

Autodesk Nitrous – a dropbox for CAD files?

Project Nitrous provides a very simple set of functions: upload files, upload new revisions, manage folders, preview, tag and comments. Take a look on few screenshots I made during my tests. The subscription to the service was easy and straightforward. You are getting 1GB of data when you register with Autodesk ID.

The home screen is simple. You can get to the list of file or folders, comment, sort, filter and tag.

Viewer is integrated into a web browser.

I found versioning function a bit strange. It wasn’t clear if it keeps separate copies of the file. When uploading a new version of file, I was alerted that name of the file was changed. The overall it gave me a history of versions in a separate screen.

Autodesk Nitrous is available as Labs product. You can register and use it now. Navigate to the following link to subscribe.

What is my conclusion? CAD and PLM vendors are thinking about the cloud. Looking on services like Dropboxand some others, SolidWorks, Autodesk and others are trying to create similar services adopted to the CAD content. In my view, these are just experiments by CAD companies about how to leverage cloud and relevant infrastructure. Will real customers end up by adopting these services? I’m not sure. Security is still the issue for most of them. At the same time, newcomers like GrabCAD are working on a bit different flavor of cloud libraries containing publicly shared CAD models. GrabCAD is helping engineers to sell their work and services online. A different aspect of collaboration maybe?

Just my thoughts..
Best, Oleg


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