Autodesk Enters PLM: Everything Changes… for Autodesk

It finally happened. Autodesk enters PLM business. After talks, speculations, discussions and guesses, Autodesk presented their Autodesk Nexus PLM product earlier this week during AU2011. I had a chance to read initial press and blog reviews related to Autodesk Nexus PLM. Here are few examples. Navigate your browser to the following link to read the official Autodesk press -Autodesk Introduces Cloud-based Product Lifecycle Management. You can read CBR - Autodesk unveils new cloud-based PLM tool. Blogosphere also provided coverage of what PLM was announced. You can read well-prepared post Autodesk and PLM: Strap Your Boots. It is coming by Al Dean (the author of my favoritePLM definition). Below is my favorite passage from Al’s post. This is, actually, one of the most interesting and, from my view,  controversial elements of Autodesk PLM strategy.

What Autodesk has effectively done is keep the server-based solution (Vault) where it needs to be. CAD data is too heavy for internet-based communications just yet. But then around this and intelligently linked to it is a set of cloud-based applications that can both provide input and are resultant as output from that data source and provide access to them in a lightweight manner. That means that whoever needs to use it can.

Few additional blog posts I notices: AU 2011: Autodesk’s 180 Turn with 360 by Kenneth Wong; AU hot topics by Monica Schnitger; Autodesk Enters PLM Arena by Managing Automation; Autodesk 360 for PLM by JTBWorld; Autodesk introduced cloud-based product lifecycle management solution by Enterprise Communication; Autodesk 360 by Cloud Tool Box.

In addition to all news and blog publications, you might be interested to read analytical review related to Autodesk and PLM written by Gartner - Autodesk Extends Benefits of PLM to Everyone at Any time from Anywhere.

PLM, Definition, History and anti-PLM rap

It is important to understand how Autodesk defines PLM. In a nutshell, Autodesk is taking an approach to focus on “M” in the definition of PLM. You can listen to “what is PLM?” definition provided by Autodesk VP of PLM Steve Bodnar.

Autodesk provided an interesting historical retrospective on PLM industry. Take a look on the follow picture. What is specially interesting is that Autodesk emphasized Arena as a first cloud-based PLM on this picture.

One more thing related to the history of PLM and Autodesk. Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass was famous by his anti-PLM rapback in 2007. Back, that days, he said PLM problem doesn’t exist. Carl touched this point in his AU2011 keynote.

Here is the 2011 version. Autodesk waited for technology to be ready for PLM. Autodesk waited for the time technology will allow to make PLM successful and available for a broad range of manufacturing companies.

Autodesk PLM: Conceptual view and package

The view on PLM presented by Autodesk was very straitforward and not unique. I’d call it PDM+. You can see a slide presenting this view below. Practically, it defines PLM as an expansion of “engineering PDM” by modules supporting multiple organizational processes. Historically, you can track similar definitions coming from other vendors (i.e.SolidWorks PDM first white paper)

As from packaging standpoint Autodesk Nexus PLM is part of a new bundle called Autodesk 360, which contains Autodesk 360 Vault and Autodesk 360 Buzzsaw.

Cloud Disruption and No Software

The fundamental element of Autodesk PLM strategy is about the cloud. In the early presentation for media, Autodesk Labs director Brian Mattews defined cloud as one of the 5 technology disruptions these days.

The strong message to support cloud strategy was provided by Carl Bass by making an association between Autodesk cloud strategy and what was done in the same space by Salesforce.com. Historical record – salesforce.com was pioneering SaaS applications and “No Software” slogan back in early 2000s.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk is taking a huge step forward to deliver a different PLM. This is a significant step for the company that was focused on design tools for many years, starting from early AutoCAD days back 1980s. I liked cloud-based strategy and how it was presented by Autodesk. I can see it very promising. The analyzes presented by Autodesk people in PLM spaces shows that Autodesk is definitely learning from mistakes made by “big 3″ mind-share PLM providers. Focusing on processes is an interesting approach. However, it is important not to loose “data” grounds – it happened to many companies in the space of “business process management” (you can read more about this in my post - PLM controversy about process vs. data management). I want to learn more about Vault/ Nexus bundle. In my view, it contains a potential danger (similar to what happened with SolidWorks n!Fuze). Overall, I can see Autodesk is in the beginning of PLM learning curve. It is a very interesting time, and I’m looking forward to many fruitful PLM discussions.

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: Autodesk sponsored my travel and attendance AU 2011, did not in any way influence the content of this post.

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