From PDM to PLM: Unify or Integrate?

October 31, 2011

Earlier, this year, I post a blog called – Integrated PDM and PLM: Wrong Question? In the beginning, this blog post was inspired by Jonathan Scott’s presentation on SolidWorks World 2011. Aras EPLM announcement last week, made me think a bit more about PDM / PLM trends. The idea of integrating PDM with PLM isn’t new and already had a chance to discuss it before. In some of my previous blogs, I discussed that PDM overall maturity was growing for the last 10 years as well as facts that confirming CAD /PDM software vendors will be searching how to boost their future activities based on existing PDM products. Navigate to the following blog – CAD, PDM and PLM diversity, CAD Data and PLM, Autodesk Vault: Enterprise PDM or PLM? A growing amount of conversations around PDM vs. PLM topics made me think about to possible trends in a future PDM to PLM conversation:

Unify PDM and PLM

This is a path that was taken by large CAD/PLM vendors. You can hear “unification talks” from all mindshare PLM companies – TeamCenter, Enovia V6,Windchill. The arguments used by these vendors are quite simple – let’s reduce the amount of systems, unify and centralize information and “life will be good”. These messages are certainly convincing. In the following video, you can listen to how TeamCenter chief – Steve Baschada is talking about PDM to PLM transition.

Keep PDM and Integrate PLM

This is an opposite approach. For many companies, PDM is a successful project. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Autodesk Vault, SolidEdge /TeamCenter Velocity. These are examples of successful PDM systems with proven records of deployments. What if we can take PDM “as is” and integrate PLM products on top of them. Aras presented a case with Aras EPLM. I believe Agile PLM, SAP PLM and some other vendors can think about such an approach. I can see “cloud products” can be proposed on top of existing “on premise” offerings. I remember, Arena Solution tried in the past to have such a type of “integrated offering”.

What is my conclusion? I think, these two trends are going to compete in a very near future. Unification as an old school of PLM will be mostly in a defense mode. Their expansion is limited by a significant cost of transition from existing (PDM) systems to unified new platforms. An alternative can be interesting, in my view. Aras is a first example. More to come. The opportunity here is to keep TCO lower. However, the danger of complex integration between PDM and PLM can make this “trick-or-treating” dangerous. Will Aras and followers are going to get more Halloween candies? I don’t know. Just my thougths… Next time I’m going to talk about PDM to PLM integration challenges.

Best, Oleg


How to host PDM/PLM database on the cloud?

October 31, 2011

I was reading Oracle journal early today. Navigate your browser to read a short article – Which Cloud Service Provider Should Host Your Oracle Databases? The article is explaining how to host Oracle database using Amazon Web Services. If you are not familiar with this opportunity, here is the deal – you can host your RDBS (i.e. Oracle) on the cloud using so called Amazon RDS service(Oracle license included). I found the following video demonstrating how you can start you Oracle 11G instance on Amazon RDS in 5 minutes.

What is the conclusion? Actually, there is no conclusion in this post. I have a question. Management of database is one of the reasons why PDM software is complicated. You need to install the database service, administrate it, etc. Don’t you think, moving your database service to the cloud will be more efficient? There are few additional questions you need to answer related to management of file storage, performance and efficiency. So, I wonder if somebody using PDM/PLM systems in such configurations and what is your experience? Anyone?

Best, Oleg


CAD, New Collaboration and Online Storage Services

October 31, 2011

Let me ask you a very silly question? How many times you abandoned you official company policy for data sharing and shared your files via Google, Dropbox or other services? Well, you don’t need to answer… I’m sure you did at least once. The amount of services helping us to share files online (cloud sharing) is growing. They compete by providing a different set of features, additional free storage or unmatched usability and simplicity. Last week Dropbox made an announcement of Dropbox for Teams introducing a new storage capacity (1TB) and new way of billing for companies. Here is the announcement – Dropbox Gets More Business Like. It made me think again about what does it mean for engineers and people in manufacturing companies.

Online Storage Experience?

I’m not pretending to mention all providers of online storage. My personal usage is limited on a daily basis to Google and Dropbox. However, I made a try of few other services as well.

DropBox For Teams

Dropbox originally came with their super simplicity. It was easy to set up and start using. I still believe it is so and use this service occasionally for different purposes. To sync data between my laptop and iPad is one of them.

Box.net

I think box.net has a larger set of features when it comes to collaboration and team usage. However, compared to Dropbox they provide less storage for the same price

SugarSync

I found SugarSync service is nice, worked well with most of computers /systems I tried. Folders sharing feature is cool. Another interesting solution – integration into Outlook is also can be valuable for business users.

Minus

The Minus service is probably less known among others. I specially liked they level of how easy you can start using it as well as share files.

CAD Online Collaboration Services

CAD companies are thinking how to introduce their online services too. In the beginning of this year, SolidWorks introduced n!Fuze for SolidWorks. Last month, Autodesk introduced their new Autodesk Documents cloud services too. The obvious advantage of these tools is included connection to CAD content and additional viewing capabilities.

What is my conclusion? Drop Box for Team as well as other tools are cool and affordable. However, will it compete with specialized services such as Autodesk Cloud, n!Fuze for SolidWorks and some others? I don’t think so, for the moment. Their feature list is too narrow for CAD files. However, here is the thing. I definitely can recommend CAD vendors to learn how all these services are designing their user experience. It will allow to improve usability of specialized CAD-oriented services. What CAD vendors can learn – usability, usability, usability. In my view, very important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cloud, Head’s-down CAD Drafters and Technological Analogies

October 28, 2011

Earlier this week, my attention was caught the article Cloud is Dead by Ralph Grabowski. Following some of Ralph’s thoughts, I found myself in a strong disagreement with his position and decided to share my view. The main point of talk is around two aspects – head’s-down drafters and technological analogies.

Cloud and Head’s-Down Drafters

Ralph is raising the point of CAD cloud and so called "head’s-down drafters". Here is the passage:

The cloud is no utility to head’s-down drafters, the kind who work hard to push out drawings, the bulk of which are still 2D. (If that were not the case, then AutoCAD LT would not be Autodesk’s non-stop best-selling CAD package, year in and year out.)

I found this association is very narrow. In my view, cloud (as well as some other technologies) creates the opportunity to optimize your work. Mobile access and cloud are going to revolutionize the way information becomes available. Getting back to head’s-down drafters, it will give them the ability to access information remotely as well as share drafts with people in different locations. Paper will be gradually replaced by tablet devices in the field, as well as the information about "the cost of change" can become available to a sales person working with a potential customer far-far-away from the engineering department.

Technological Analogies

Another place where I felt the need to clarify Ralph’s claim is related to the cloud technology. Here is the passage:

Furthermore, cloud technology is not so new. Those of us who started in computing more than 20 years ago are likely familiar with client-server computing (also known as "mainframe-terminal" or "time-sharing" computing) and so are well-acquainted with its failings. Cloud computing is the new clothes for the old emperor, who today struts again naked.

Here, the association with mainframe and time-share terminals is absolutely wrong. To take the cloud down as a "transmission service" only is too narrow too. I’ve heard similar claims among IT people trying to present the cloud as "no big deal" and something like "just take my servers to another location". In my view, the real power of the cloud is in application of elastic computing, multi-tenant systems and finally re-definition of software cost-structure.

Appropriate Use of the cloud, please

Here is one thing, I agree with Ralph about the cloud. Appropriate use of the cloud, please. The power of workstation, especially when it comes to the combination of local storage and size of information required for 3D and 2D drawings cannot be replaced by the cloud. This is can keep existing CAD systems alive. At the same time, growing storage capability and low cost can bring emerging technologies empower cloud-based rendering (i.e. just published OTOY-Autodesk announcement) and outperform local workstation.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is dead. Long live the cloud. No, this is not about future Dassault V6 technology :). Let’s define what cloud technology we are talking about. If this is a technology that allows you to virtualize computing power, deliver elastic scalability and high availability, push cost down and enable easy data sharing across multiple locations and devices – thumbs up! However, if this is about how to move existing 15 years old CAD / PDM / PLM servers to hosted location and use the same slowish client-server technology over the internet – this type of cloud is dead. Just my thoughts… YMMV.

Best, Oleg


Aras, SolidWorks and Disruptive PLM Strategies

October 27, 2011

BAM! Aras just announced Enterprise PLM for SolidWorks. Here is the new article -Enterprise PLM for Enterprise PDM. Navigate to the following article to read more – Open Source Aras Releases Commercial PLM Solution for SolidWorks. Here is the short conclusion made by Randall Newton: Our assessment: Aras just plugged a huge hole in the SolidWorks marketplace, one as big as the product name is long.

Fast rewind back in 2010. SolidWorks World 2010. Anaheim, CA. SolidWorks is announcing about their future products on top of Enovia V6 platform. During that event SolidWorks made multiple mentioning of Enovia V6 to be used as a platform for future enhancements of SolidWorks. Here is the passage from razorleaf’s blog summarizing SolidWorks World 2010:

SolidWorks has a new product line, SolidWorks PLM. This line will include a number of offerings, thefirst of which is cloud-based data management named SolidWorks Product Data Sharing (PDS). This software was demonstrated on the last day of the show, operating right inside of SolidWorks. For those paying close attention, the PDS plug-in showed a label, “powered by ENOVIA V6.”

Now rewind seven month ago. SolidWorks 2011. I posted – Integrated PDM and PLM: Wrong Question? This blog was a follow up on the conversation and presentation made by Jonathan Scott of Razorleaf about SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and ENOVIA V6 integration. Slides are still here.

The interesting comment to this post was made by Marc Lind of Aras:

My sense is that the future will be about leveraging existing systems / data, like legacy PDMs, with more modern technologies to enable global processes, cross-functional collaboration and new ways of doing business. Our “view” at Aras is: Use the latest PLM technology to automate what makes economic sense, gets results quickly and gives you control over your own destiny.

I had a chance to meet Aras booth during SWW 2011. Aras presented a co-existance between Open Source Enterprise PLM and EPDM (see photo in the beginning of the post)

Another rewind. April 2011. ACE 2011 (Aras Community Event). After digesting all ACE 2011 materials and presentations, my clear conclusion was – Aras PLM lines up against Windchill, Enovia and TeamCenter. Navigate to my earlier blog to see slides presented Aras. The integration capabilities of Aras were clearly outlined and existing PLMs were presented as “PLM Legacy”.

Here is the quote from my blog post:

Integration is an important element of every PLM strategy and implementation. There are multiple aspects of integrations – desktops, CADs, PLM systems and ERP systems. Aras presented a very broad scope of integrations and integration technologies. (note: I was a bit surprised to see existing PLM systems defined as “legacy”)..

Aras Enterprise PLM vs. Enovia V6

The Enterprise PLM offering by Aras is pretty straightforward. Aras is going after 3 key areas – Engineering Bill of Material management, Change Management and Project/Portfolio Management.

All these modules are available in Enovia V6 portfolio – Enovia Engineering Central and Enovia Program Central. Now, customer can make a decision.

What is my conclusion? Aras is clearly playing a role of a disrupter on PLM market. Back in 2007, Aras disrupted PLM first time by introducing Open Source PLM. It looks like Aras is on the way to make a second disruption among large companies using SolidWorks and taking a role of Enovia V6 in a bundle EPDM / EPLM. Enovia clearly has a technological advantage of having unified development forces in their new Dassault facilities in Waltham, MA to develop “best in class” Enovia V6 / SolidWorks EPDM integration. The speed of customer adoption will be a key factor for Aras. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Strategic Technologies for 2012

October 26, 2011

We are in the Q4 of 2011. It is a traditional time start thinking about what is going to happen in 2012. I was reading Gartner’s Top 10 strategic technologies for 2012 published after Gartner’s ITxpo 2011 Symposium last week in Orlando. What is strategic technology according to Gartner:

What’s a "strategic technology"? The short version is that a strategic technology is one that has the potential for "significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years." That means either an existing technology that’s matured or become suitable for wider use, or it’s an emerging technology that could provide a strategic business advantage for early adopters. If it’s new(ish) and going to impact your organization’s long-term plans or initiatives.

I expected (and hope you too) to see "cloud" in the list. However, the rest of the list looks interesting. Here is the list:

  • Cloud computing
  • Big Data
  • Extreme Low-Energy Servers
  • Next-Generation Analytics
  • App Stores and Marketplaces
  • In-Memory Computing
  • Mobile-Centric Applications and Interfaces
  • Contextual and Social User Experience
  • Internet of Things
  • Media Tablets

Read about Gartner perspective in details here. Some of the things are resonating with my thoughts about what PLM technologies will emerge and how CAD/PLM vendors can leverage them. Please take a look below on my take about what technologies will be important for the future development of software for manufacturing and engineering.

Cloud Computing

Well.. this topic is everywhere. I think "cloud" is about shifting paradigms. People, by mistake, see the cloud as a renaissance of mainframe computers connected via the internet. However, it is wrong, in my view. There two things where cloud will provide a shift – cost of services and availability. Take a look on one of my latest posts about the cloud- 3 Key Cloud principles: will CAD/PLM follow?

Big Data

The stories about Big Data are fascinating. The importance of big data related technologies in manufacturing is obvious. The amount of data gathered by enterprise organization is huge. Most of this data is "invisible" today. A fraction of this data is controlled by enterprise software. Rest lives between workstations, databases, Excels, portals and personal USB drives. A significant portion of data now is on the web, but it is not connected to information inside of companies. To have the ability to connect information Design-Engineering-Manufacturing-Support-Service-Marketing (sounds PLMish) is where big data technologies can help.

Next generation analytics

Business in general and manufacturing company specifically is all about a decision. You cannot manage anything if you cannot measure and analyze data. How efficient is your design, energy consumption, customer adoption rate, customer complains, supplier’s efficiency – all this information needs to be analyzed? The ability to embed analytics in the decision process is the key issue and top priority for most of the companies.

App Stores and Market Places

This is part of what called "consumerization". We finally got it with iPhone, iTunes, etc. Now we expect the same magic to happen in business. In my presentation earlier this month on Dassault PLM forum, I mentioned Enterprise App Store as something that will have a huge potential in the future. However, many questions are still not answered – who will decide about the purchase, how apps will be selected, how integration will happen, etc.

In-memory computing

The impact of how products can leverage new memory technologies (i.e. Flash drives) is incredible. Especially when it comes to calculation, simulation and analyzes. So, I expect it to be part of technologies, CAD companies will use the most.

Mobile centric application and interfaces

I hope you are taking mobile seriously. The revolution here is under go, and we will see lots of improvements in this space. However, the main point – you don’t need to be at your desktop to decide is probably the key. The amount of time, people will use mobile device and not laptop/workstation is growing. It will help to develop fields like – marketing, support, technical operation and many others. Since I published. Who can generate 3D/PLM content for Apple iPad two years ago, we can see a huge progress. You can see mobile/ iPad apps in the portfolios of almost every CAD/PLM company. Future here will be just amazing, in my view.

Contextual and Social Experience

Well, this is another "new kid". I think, everybody these days experienced "social addiction" of Facebook and other social networks. The "aha" moment these days is to understand how it will impact our business life and business decisions. Social technologies are running fast, but to find really workable stuff is hard. One of my last write ups about that is -PLM and Social Enterprise: Files vs. People? can give you some ideas where social can go.

Internet of things

Another "fascinating topic" in my eyes. I’m following "internet of things" trend for some times now. Here is my short note about that almost 2.5 years ago – PLM and Internet of Things. Some technologies in this space are really interesting for manufacturing / engineering – sensors, image recognition, 2D to 3D conversions.

Media Tablets

This technology is kind of extension to "mobile" story. However, it is all about experience and information consumption. My favorite example – Flipboard for iPad. You can take another "almost 2 years ago post" – Things are getting touchy (PLM Tablet user experience) and compare it with your experience today. Another aspect of tablet technologies is the development of API for information access.

What is my conclusion? Prediction is a tough job. Talking about technologies in the context of the future is twice though. In general, customers don’t care about technologies. They care about "getting job done". However, speaking about engineering, manufacturing and enterprise, I can see a "momentum for new technologies", because this place was too long unchanged. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Will PLM Handbook for SMEs solve customer problems?

October 25, 2011

I want to continue the topic I started in my previous posts – PLM for SME (Small to Medium Enterprise). SME are interesting companies. In my view, "previous life" at Dassault Systems, I had a chance to work with many small companies. My former colleague and blogging buddy Jos Voskuil is writing a lot about PLM for SME in his blog - Virtual Dutchman. About a year ago, Jos posted an interesting report / questionnaire about PLM for SME – PLM for the mid market: Your opinion as reported. According to Jos’ questionnaire, 72% of people are thinking PLM for mid-market needs to be provided by a special software providers.

The following article by CAD CAM News caught my attention few days ago. PLMIG announces a new *PLM* Handbook for SME. The article confirms that majority of manufacturing companies around the globe are actually small to medium enterprises.

Small to medium-sized businesses (also known as SMBs, SMEs, PMIs or PMEs) are a massive part of the world economy but a tiny part of the PLM marketplace. In the USA they contribute up to 30% of industrial output, while in countries such as Italy they form up to 95% of the industrial sector.

According to PLMIG publication, most of PLM companies are trying to solve problems of PLM implementation by providing a stripped version of their PLM products. I wasn’t able to put my hands on the PLMIG Handbook. However, the opinion about "stripped PLM Lite" version resonated. According to PLMIG, this approach is misguided:

The usual approach of the PLM industry to this sector is to try to sell "PLM Lite", in the belief that smaller companies simply need a stripped-down version of what works for large corporations.The recent PLM Standardisation Workshop in Milan showed that this approach is misguided. Many SMEs are striving to make the kind of improvements in performance and delivery that PLM could provide, and their problem is that a conventional PLM approach just does not match the world they inhabit.

What is my take? The conversation about PLM for SME isn’t new. I’ve seen many vendors that are looking how to crack how to solve product development challenges of small manufacturing companies. Personally, I hardly believe a "handbook" (or methodology) can solve a problem. Small companies are ‘flat by nature’ and driven by tools and not by methodologies. To get a job done – this is a main motto of small companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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