Siemens’ Active Workspace – PLM Next Big Thing?

September 30, 2011

PLM is a lot of lifecycle. It is a very important characteristic of PLM to support product access the multiple lifecyle phases. As a result of this PLM forced to be focused on integration. The nature of PLM to live between all other enterprise systems in manufacturing organization. How many times you’ve seen a slide presenting PLM capturing product from early requirement phases and until final disposal. Over the past few years, I’ve seen the trend of PLM vendors to delivery more vertically integrated systems. It was demanded by customers, since it answered on the requests to integrate multiple enterprise products and information. About a month ago, I posted Total Integration and the Future of PLM. This blog post resonated. You can see a long history of discussion came together with this blog. It was clear to me “integration” became a key word.

Dassault System was a company that experimented with the vertical integration too. Coming with their revolutionary V6 release and 3DLive concept, Dassault introduced the environment “pulling dots” together. You can find corresponded materials on YouTube (like this) presenting how V6/3DLive supposed to provide a complete integrated working environment.

I first heard about Siemens PLM plan to deliver so called HD-PLM and HD-3D environment last year. I’ve seen examples of HD-3D. I liked a clean UI. However, I’ve seen some correspondence between ideas of 3DLive and HD-3D. Here is my blog about it from the last year – 3DLive, HD-3D, 3D UI and Efficiency.

Earlier this year, I started to get some information about Siemens PLM plan to deliver something called – Active Work Space. E The first time I’ve heard about it was a blog by Desktop Engineering called- Siemens PLM Connection: Clues to Active Workspace. It was interesting enough. I noted the following passage:

“What we’re trying to do,” said Bruce Feldt, Siemens PLM Software’s VP of Open Tools, “is to provide access to information, that complex PLM information, though a transcendent user interface …”

The end product, revealed Feldt, “is intended to be a new client [with which] PLM workers of all classes will start their work day. Active Workspace will know who the workers are, what’s on their work list, what kind of things they’re working on. It’s all centered around the notion of improved decision-making … It is a search-based application. Do not consider it as a search engine … the user interface has to be very simple to use … it’s a highly visual environment. Going through lists of texts, product structures, and information presented in hierarchical ways is useful, but we think if we present them in a more visual way, it would be more useful and easier to understand.”

Below is a slide from the presentation shows what Active Workspace is and what is it NOT.

Another piece of information about Active Workspace came later this year from Siemens PLM conference. Jim Brown of TechClarity was talking about HD-PLM and Active Workspace in his blog post – Siemens PLM: Progress Report 2011. Here is the quote from Jim’s post:

HD-PLM – This is where “smarter decisions” becomes real. The most tangible progress here is with Active Work Space (AWS). Active Work Space is a central solution for Siemens PLM that aims to bring all of the information, tools, and product context together in one place for a user. This holistic view of the product is intended to serve as the central location that decision makers access product information and the tools to create and share it. One of the key points Siemens makes is that this should put all of the tools Chuck talks about above in the context of the product and the decisions being made. At a minimum, it simplifies the view into the products for a user and provides a fresh interface to the PLM solution suite. Over time, this has the potential to develop into much more (I will share more of that as plans are made public).

Finally, Kenneth Wong of Desktop Engineering published an article earlier last week – Siemens PLM: Active Workspace in code… where he placed the following picture previewing future Active Workspace UI. According to information provided by Kenneth, Active Workspace supposed to come later in November.

What is my conclusion? I think, vertical integration and decision-making are two important trends in PLM these days. Ultimately, PLM value prop is going more and more towards “smarter product decisions”. The only way to have a smarter decision is to provide a complete and efficient tool connecting information to be used by decision makers. I sort of like Siemens PLM Active Workspace idea. However, obviously, I have many questions not answered. Cost of implementation and openness to other tools in manufacturing organization are two most important. In my view, customers’ demands are towards cheaper tools and faster implementation timelines. Is it achievable? I don’t know… I didn’t find information about how to Siemens is planning to implement Active Workspace. Hope to see it in the future. These are just my thoughts and guesses…

Best, Oleg

From MultiCAD, to Multi-Cloud. Thoughts about Cloud Realities…

September 27, 2011

I think we are actually in the beginning of a very interesting time. Obviously, you know a lot of things about Multi-CAD. No need to explain. However, I think we are slowly moving into something new – I’d call it "Multi-Cloud". It is less than one day passed since I posted "Autodesk Quietly Launched Their Cloud". Well, it is not quiet anymore, and you can see a lot of blogs and social media coverage coming around Autodesk Cloud news. You can navigate to the following link to learn more. Autodesk is bundled quite many tools on the cloud o strength their cloud offering. However, Autodesk cloud activities coupled with some older news and rumors made me think about future cloud realities. So, I wanted to share it with you.

Dassault and Autodesk: Cloud File Share.

I wanted you to note two products – Autodesk Cloud Documents and Dassault V6 SolidWorks n!Fuze. There is one similar thing that shared between all these events. It is about how to move us from our local storage, we use for CAD files and other document, to the cloud.

I actually tried Autodesk Cloud Documents yesterday (you can take a look on my blog from yesterday). In a nutshell, Autodesk Cloud Documents is a place where you can upload your AutoCAD drawings, Autodesk Inventor Assemblies, DWF files as well as any other documents. As soon as you have done, you can exchange it with other people, view, make a comment and retrieve from multiple devices.

Let me talk about Dassault V6 Cloud store. The product I want to focus on is called SolidWorks n!Fuze. I posted about n!Fuze before. Simply put, n!Fuze is cloud-based product which allows you to upload SolidWorks drawings and any other files. You can then collaborate, exchange and use 3DSwYm communities to collaborate between people uploaded and exchanged documents.

Google Drive Rumors

Another product I want to mention (or actually rumors) is Google Drive. Actually, the prototype of Google Drive is existed today Google Docs. In online discussion, you can hear many bloggers and publishers are agreeing that Google will re-brand their Google Docs into Google Drive. However, specifically for this conversation the detail level of how it will happen actually doesn’t matter. It means only one thing – Google will provide an even bigger place to store your documents online and collaborate (aka working together).

Multi-CAD vs. Multi-Cloud

We are going to face a new problem with CAD and PLM software. Before today, Multi-CAD was one that many people tried to resolve. For the last few years, the problem of Multi-CAD collaboration started to disappear. It doesn’t mean you can easily move from one CAD system to another. At the same time, industry developed different methodologies how companies can either use the same CAD systems in-house and collaborate using information (documents) from multiple CAD systems.

Multi-Cloud Future?

So, you thought, Multi-CAD was your biggest problem? Not anymore… Multi-Cloud is going to rock now. What does it mean? We will see a growing amount of providers of cloud solutions. As you see from my earlier letter, both Dassault and Autodesk are working on their cloud offerings that help them to share document and other content. In addition, the specific offering coming from CAD/PLM providers, another company (i.e. Google, Dropbox, etc.) started to offer their platforms (also) to share document and information. So, I can clearly see conflict of interests between all companies mentioned above.

What is my conclusion? In my view, the conflict is clear. In a short period of time, we are going to see multiple companies are asking for their customers to join their cloud programs. With the obvious absence of differentiations and, in addition, the competition coming from non-CAD companies, customers will have to make a though choice… Most of the products for this purpose were developed in past few months (or at least 1 year) and introduce a limited and competitive functional background. I think, customers will have to make their "multi-cloud" decision. Welcome to the new "cloud" reality. Who do you think will drive in the future Multi-Cloud enterprise? A good question. I want to know your opinion. Please, speak your mind. It is only my opinion, and I’m looking forward to discussing with everybody.

Best, Oleg

Autodesk Quietly Launched Their Cloud

September 26, 2011

Time ago, I was discussing on my blog about cloud file storage as one of the potential first step CAD vendors will take to adopt cloud. One of my posts about that was – Is Google Doc is a good place to store CAD files? I was very surprised to discover that Autodesk quietly launched their Autodesk Cloud services. Thanks to my web alert and Thomas Rambach about the notification. You can see that Autodesk made website available. You can register to login and have 1GB free space to work on. Below I put some screenshots and explain few experiments I’ve made. As you can see from the home screen, it is all about Cloud Documents, and it reminds you Google Docs very much.

After quick registration (it was actually very smooth), you have an access to cloud folders.

So, what you can do? Actually, not much… You can upload files, search for them, tag them, upload next revisions. You can create folders and organize your files into these folders. On the following picture, you can see some elements of a future cloud apps features – additional storage, applications and more…

What is my take? Few months ago, I was trying out Dassault V6 Cloud Apps. Here is the link to refresh your memory. I was talking about SolidWorks n!Fuze as one of the DS V6 Cloud Services – My Experience with Dassault V6 Cloud on Amazon. If you will take a look on n!Fuze user interface and Autodesk Cloud UI, you can find some similarity. Don’t think it is wrong. I prefer to have UI simple, slick and straightforward. From that standpoint, I liked very much Autodesk Cloud appearance and user experience. However, the most important question to ask- is it going to be a viable option for people to store and use their files? How easy will be connecting from applications (desktop and web) to these services? How efficiently we can share files between these separate cloud services? All these questions are requiring a deeper discussion and answers before customers will touch these new services.

Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Autodesk, Russia and Local PLM

September 26, 2011

One of the interesting things I learned during Autodesk Forum in Moscow was related to local PLM vendors. I found it very educational and decided to share this informtion with my readers. Few months ago Autodesk announced about their plans to develop PLM solutions. You can read my previous blog about that – Autodesk PLM: Fast Second. At the same time, I can see Autodesk is actively partnering with existing companies developing PLM solutions. Earlier, this year Autodesk announced (link) about the partnership with Open Source PLM provider Aras. Appearance of four local PLM companies from Russia on Autodesk Forum in Moscow made me think about what means PLM for Autodesk.

Russia/CIS PLM market is very crowed. It represented by three mind share CAD/PLM vendors Dassault Systems, Siemens PLM and PTC. All of these companies are having their local offices. In addition to that, Russian CAD/PLM vendor Ascon is playing a significant role selling their CAD and PLM solutions. I wasn’t able to find updated information about market numbers. I found theold IDC reports (from 2007) – you can dig for some numbers about vendors’ position in Russia.

I had a chance to see presentations of four PLM vendors announcing and demonstrating their PLM products together with Autodesk.

SDI Solutions

This company is focusing on integration data from multiple data sources. They actually call themselves – MDM (Master Data Management). If you ware not aware MDM (typically implemented for large companies) is focusing on how you can bring data from multiple databases you have in your company to a single "Master" database. You can see it from few slides below. To learn more about the company, navigate to SDI Solutions (in Russian).

Top Systems

TFlex /Top Systems is a company, I’ve been in touch before and had some initial understanding of what they do. In addition to PLM product, Top System is selling 3D CAD product that potentially can compete with Autodesk Inventor. However, on Autodesk Forum Top Systems presented their concept of PLM+ (Russian link) – a system that can cover almost everything in manufacturing company. In a nutshell, PLM+ means "PLM" + everything else. You can take a look on few slides and made your opinion. Their idea of using PLM+ and saving on integration of all other systems is a dominant one. You can learn more by navigating to the following link (in Russian).

Souz PLM

Another system – Souz PLM coming from a company called (in Russian) The system provides quite a standard set of functionality related to management of 3D CAD data. You can see it on a picture below. One of the things caught my attention was a part of this system focuses on collaborative reviews.

1C / Appius

Company 1C is a #1 ERP provider in Russia. As a local company, 1C is well-known and having a reputation of mainstream vendor with siginificnt Russian customer adoption level. Their PDM/PLM Module provides a standard list of functionality – CAD integration, Versions, BOM, Configuration, Vaulting, Manufacturing, Catalogs, Change Management, Workflow and ERP integration. At the same time, in my view, the marketing focus on this company is clearly about how to up-sell PDM/PLM to existing customers of 1C.

What is my conclusion? PLM companies become recognized members of Autodesk eco-system. The fact almost all local Russian PLM vendors attended Autodesk PLM forum in Moscow is a good confirmation that Autodesk is trying to learn more about PLM. On the global arena, Autodesk just introduced Aras PLM as their Gold Partner member, which is another recognition of Autodesk interest in PLM. In parallel, Autodesk pre-announced their own cloud PLM offering that expected to come later this year. How all these solutions, companies and strategies will live together is a good question to ask. What is your take? I’m going to share it with you, as soon as I learn more about it.

Best, Oleg

Win8, metro and the future of PLM client apps

September 23, 2011

I wanted to talk about Windows 8 today. Despite lots of talks we had about Macs, iPads and web during last months, most of the manufacturing companies are running their business on Windows. Thinking about this, I took a look on a news stream coming from Micorosft these days about new look and feel of Windows 8 called Metro UI. Microsoft just released a new developer build of Windows 8. You can take a look on the following video preview.

For those of you thinking about development of different applications, I recommend to go a bit deeper and read more about some architectural technological transformations that happen behind the scene of new Windows 8. I was reading ZDNet article – Microsoft Metro Proves the PC is dead. Take your few minutes and read this article. Now, take a look on the following picture.

If you are a developer, you can note that everything “blue” on this picture represents the “old school Windows” and all new stuff is coming with Metro UI and WinRT API.

CAD, PDM, PLM and platform architecture

A big number of CAD, PDM and PLM applications, products and platforms written during the last decades are relied on existing Windows architecture, including a significant portion of backward compatibilities. Windows 8 wiil enforce vendors to start thinking about next client applications. It will be the time vendors can decide to re-build their products on Win8 or they can move out and think about other platforms.

What is my conclusion? In the beginning of the year, I was talking about the end of Microsoft dominance in one of my blogs. It becomes clear that Microsoft itself is taking steps that will end the mainstream Windows architecture used by multiple vendors. It is still long time before Windows 8 will be released. However, it will be interesting to see vendors’ reaction and steps to align future CAD, PDM and PLM client applications. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Trends and Solution Alternatives: Presentation and Roundtable

September 22, 2011

The second day of Autodesk Forum in Moscow. Today, I gave my presentation about PLM Trends and Solution Alternatives. You can find my presentation below. I originally presented in Russian. However, for my blog readers I’m also sharing an English version. I found quite many people interesting about PLM and possible solutions.

This Afternoon, I had a chance to run a roundtable about PLM. Here is the list of my questions and discussion notes.

PLM Implementation Options

The conclusion we made actually stated that implementation option is very dependent on organization and organization perspective on PLM. Company with a strong PLM vision on the C-level, can take an approach to follow one of the big mind-share PLM vendors. However, if a company is looking how to solve a specific problem, the approach of DIY or PDM+ can be very appropriated too. Few people mentioned that they know about situations when IT managers were fired after making wrong decisions even if that decision was to bring one of “big name” vendors. The agreement across almost all participants of the roundtable was about two things: PDM as a foundation of any PLM solution as well as importance of “staged approach”.

PLM Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up

The discussion about PLM implementation options naturally came to the comparison of Top-Down and Bottom-Up approaches. Both options were considered as valid. At the same time, we discussed how a company can differentiate and make a right decision. Some of the aspects related to a company size, other systems (ERP, CRM) as well as specific business characteristics. The important conclusion we made – PLM can be a top-down strategy from the management standpoint, but from implementation side, it requires bottom-up implementations and integration of multiple tools to be really efficient.

Not Only PLM (noPLM)

The discussion was mostly about how to exclude complication and simplify PLM implementation. We didn’t make a conclusion about that. However, it was clear that not all PLM programs are achieving their results. In some situations, people are displacing PLM tools by some homegrown solutions mostly because of the simplicity. At the end, people just want to make a job done. It is important to remember.

How to make PLM Different?

It was the last question. We discussed historical retrospective from EDM to PLM. Two key opinions were raised during the discussion. 1- PLM is really different for everybody. Don’t even try to unify it and propose a solution that fits everybody needs. Local (Russian) PLM vendors were dominated in this discussion. 2- something needs to change in PLM technologies. Similar to dynamic data modeling (back to 1990s) and PDM integration inside of CAD tools (end of 1990s / beginning of 2000s), a new technological innovation can change PLM implementation approach in 2010s. A very bold analogy is related to tablet computers. The original tablets with stencil and flip/flop screens were available long before. However, only Apple innovation with iPad made real tablet computer revolution these days.

What is my conclusion? 1800 attendees – this is a very impressive number shows strong Autodesk community in Russia/CIS. It was good meeting people and discussing PLM. I’ve got interesting feedback about my presentation. Also, I learned a lot of things related to PLM implementations made by local Russian PLM vendors (I will share them in one of my future posts). I hope the conversation will continue online. Don’t be shy and speak your mind.

Best, Oleg

Does Autodesk Smells PLM? First impression from Moscow Forum.

September 22, 2011

Things are busy for me this week. It is mostly because of Autodesk Forum in Moscow. I’ve been invited to talk here about PLM trends and to run a roundtable discussion about PLM. My presentations are today. However, I wanted to share some of my thoughts from the first day. Sorry for my provoking title on this post. At the same time, this is probably part of my real interest in being here. Autodesk made some bold steps towards PLM. Navigate to one of my previous blog posts – Autodesk PLM: Fast Second? and Autodesk Vault: Enterprise PDM or PLM? to have a context for these thoughts. So, today I’m sharing some of my preliminary thoughts about what I’ve seen during the first day of Autodesk Forum in Moscow.

Autodesk Moscow Forum at a glance

Some general information for my non-Russian readers. The event is big – 1500 attendees (not including Autodesk employees) In Autodesk business terms, Russia is part of BRIC countries. Russia is having their own ups and downs as well as an influence of the world economy as well. During the press conference for journalists and bloggers, Autodesk Russia management team mentioned some aspects related to local Autodesk market and the state of local economy. My short outcome – economy rebound almost to pre-crisis level, customers are focusing on efficiency (also from the communication standpoint as well as from the product usage standpoint), there are few large segments of market related to the core local industries; cloud and mobile are two catching terms, private cloud is one way to go, public the internet is another one. Manufacturing sector of Autodesk Russia sounds excited about future Autodesk move to PLM, but mostly focuses on the discussion to understand problems and specific of local manufacturers. You can see below a picture of Autodesk Russia Management as well as nice (and destructive) view from 25th floor of Holiday Inn Sokol’niki – the location press conference and Autodesk Forum took place.

PDM Talks

I attended few presentations about PDM by local Autodesk professionals as well as invited people from Autodesk in Europe. PDM is an official term Autodesk is using for manufacturing domain. At the same time, you can see that some of the slides really smell “PLM” terms – Process Improvements, Design Reuse, ECO, Compliance, Suppliers.

As usual, for PDM and PLM forums, it was a talk about ROI (in this forum it was about PDM). Some interesting examples and numbers were presented. Take a look on the slides below.

The most impressive number – 40% of productive engineering time wasted in data management.

Vault Collaboration in AEC – BIM360

I wanted to note the topic related to AEC-Collaboration separately. Even if this is not related to PLM and manufacturing, it was interesting to see a strong association between Vault Collaboration in AEC and some fundamental PLM concepts. The main difference is actually related to the integration with specific AEC products. The AEC PLM formula looks like – AEC tools’ integration + BlueStreak and BuzzSaw. It is interesting enough Autodesk included Buzzsaw as a cloud option.

Cloud and Mobile

Even if it is not specifically related to PLM, but I wanted to note that “Cloud” and “Mobile” topics were the most widely used by everybody here. It came as a bit surprise to me. Despite the fact, that cloud is one of my favorite topics, in general, I was skeptical about how quickly cloud will ramp-up, especially outside of US. It is interesting that Autodesk presents their historical view on Autodesk cloud going back to 1999 and initial introduction of Buzzsaw software as a service.

Clearly, mobile devices and mobile are two major driving forces behind the cloud development. It was good to meet Tal Weiss of Autodesk. Tal is developer manager of AutoCAD WS – a leading mobile computing product line at Autodesk. Interesting numbers about AutoCAD WS: 2.5 million users, 3.2 million downloads on iOS and Android platforms, 5 million files downloaded, 1.6 million unique users. Tal was talking about new features of AutoCAD WS 1.3. The list of features confirms in my view, the growing demand for additional functionality in AutoCAD WS to allow users to do some more work using mobile devices and tablets.

An interesting note related to AutoCAD WS and Cloud. According to Autodesk, AutoCAD WS can be configured to work in the “private cloud” option, which can remove security concerns coming from large corporate customers.

A very short conclusion. The first day was impressive and energizing. PLM word was mentioned a bit, but it still will take time to understand what does it mean for Autodesk and how to call it. Today is a second day with many talks about PLM, including invited talks by Autodesk partners in Russia – providers of PDM/ PLM software. It will be interesting to learn more about local PLM perspective. I will share my presentation and notes later today, so stay tuned.

Best, Oleg



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