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Autodesk, Aras and Integrated PDM / PLM story

Back to the beginning of this year, I came with the post – Integrating PLM and PDM. Wrong question? My initial thoughts about integrating PDM and PLM was driven by growing interest to integrate existing software assets in the companies. However, thinking more I can see some additional aspects of PDM / PLM integration in a longer-term perspective. Few weeks ago, I postedFrom PDM to PLM: Unify vs. Integrate. I can see some examples of "integrate trend" happens now. I wanted to discuss two examples. Both Aras and Autodesk, in my view, are trying to integrate existing PDM systems with agile and flexible PLM environments.

Aras Enterprise PLM

If you haven’t had a chance to review it, Aras EPLM is a new packaged offering coming from Aras and expanding SolidWorks Enterprise PDM horizons by providing additional process oriented applications in Aras PLM. I recommend you to take a look on Aras EPLM on-demand webcast. Based on the information I found on the website, the functional scope of Aras EPLM related to Item and BOM Management, Product costing, Supply Chain processes, Project management and Change Management.

The clear strategy of Aras is to provide a complementary solution to SolidWorks and EPDM. I believe SolidWorks customers are looking for this solution as the opportunity to keep SolidWorks EPDM, to have an additional functionality and eliminate probably more expensive and unclear migration towards future Enovia V6 solutions DS is planning to deliver in the future.

Autodesk Nexus PLM

Another interesting example that just came last week – Autodesk made the announcement of Nexus PLM. Thre is little information and hands-on experience available about Autodesk PLM. You can navigate to my earlier posts aboutAutodesk Nexus PLM and Autodesk PLM strategies. At the same time, from the top slide presented by Steve Bodnar, Autodesk VP of PLM, we can learn that Autodesk is building their PLM strategy as a combination of two products – on-premise PDM (Autodesk Vault) and cloud based future product (Nexus PLM).

Looking on the scope of solutions Autodesk is promising to deliver as part of Nexus PLM, you can see some similarity with Aras EPLM Solution.

PDM / PLM Integration: pros and cons

If I think about possible advantages of combined solutions PDM+PLM, the one that stands clear to me is the interest to leverage existing software assets and re-use implementations cost already made by customers. When I think about the way Aras and Autodesk articulate what they do, I can see lots of similarities.

In that context, the cost of integration between PDM and PLM becomes one of the most important elements. Mindshare PLM vendors like Siemens PLM and Dassault are driving customers towards unified solution. They are trying to convince customers that unification will reduce the total cost of ownership and optimize the implementation. At the same time, if cost of integration is low, the type of solution proposed by Autodesk and Aras can have some grounds.

What is my conclusion? PDM / PLM integration looks like an interesting trend. We are going to see to see more examples, in my view. What is the fundamental reason behind it? I think many companies are having trouble to drive their IT infrastructure towards unification. It requires longer projects and expanded budgets. If PLM companies find an efficient way to integrate and access data between systems, it can definitely provide a competitive advantage on the market. Last one cannot be guaranteed, but it sounds as an interesting opportunity. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Responses to Autodesk, Aras and Integrated PDM / PLM story

  1. Hello Oleg,
    Thanks for your thoughts and addressing the integration question in this context.
    Two remarks I want to make
    1 – The integration of a PDM or DM system via an interface into a PLM or ERP system is a contradiction to the goal of a product life-cycle management practise in a company. And I didn’t use the abbreviation on purpose to distinguish between IT systems and the management practise. Who implements such practise wants to gain advantages for its business by systematically collecting, organizing and providing all relevant product information and also to manage related business processes along the life-cycle. Interfaces between systems have the characteristic to transfer only partial information what will result in lost of information along the life-cycle. A contradiction to the goal to provide as much information along the life-cycle as possible.
    If it goes beyond information and documents and into the question how processes can be managed via interfaces, we see that quite complex procedures have to be established to keep these systems synchronized. Yes it is possible to transfer documents, items and BOMs between two systems, but let’s keep the document revisions and statuses synchronized, add manufacturing and purchase processes and a third or fourth system to the game and you will end up with a monster environment which nobody wants to touch anymore.
    2 – The motives why Autodesk and Aras are offering integrations to their PLM systems are totally different and I think they are worth to mention. Aras offering is a result of its sales strategy into the SolidWorks community. The integration approach is easier to sell to engineers and avoids conflicts with SolidWorks resellers.
    Autodesk’s approach is a result of a strategical decision to make PLM and cloud technology available for its customers on the one hand but to go around the challenge that 3D CAD files are getting bigger and bigger on the other hand.
    Draw your own conclusion who had the customer success in mind.

    – Klaus

  2. klaus, thanks for your comments and insight! The integration is a very complex story. There are multiple factors and situations – you mentioned some of them. I have to say that every integration I was looking for until now, had the same problem. With regards to Autodesk vs. Aras story – I think, there is a difference between the strategies. However, what is common is that both Autodesk and Aras are coming “to respect” existing software and customer create value, which is important. Just my thoughts… Oleg

  3. No Oleg,
    no software vendor will respect any customer investment, if they can replace a competitive system. Only in some cases it is not possible, for Aras for sales reasons, for Autodeks because of the current necessity to manage big 3D CAD files locally.

  4. Klaus, thanks for the comment. I can understand the side of vendor. However, what is the reason for customer to migrate? Even if the cost of new solution is the same, there is a question of migration and the investment. What is your take? btw, what sales reasons related to Aras you mentioned? Can you clarify, please? Thanks, Oleg

  5. Hello Oleg,
    To migrate from one PDM system to another makes no sense, but to consolidate all data in one central PLM system will reduce the total cost of ownership. No cost for an additional system, no maintenance effort for the additional system (license, maintenance, and personnel), no cost to develop and maintain an integration, etc.
    If Aras would position their PLM solution as a replacement to SolidWorks PDM/DM solution it would have to go against SolidWorks and its dealer channel. It would need a strong sales force like Siemens or SAP to sell it no matter what. But if they can position Aras as an additional tool with additional value, where customers can keep their existing environment, it could even win some SolidWorks dealers. (See for example FISHER/UNITECH: http://www.aras.com/news/media-coverage.aspx#9B5B2EBF4A444EA79A27E8731ED7A8A9)
    It is simply a way to sell with the least opposition, even if the sustainability of the system architecture is questionable.

  6. Klaus, I think, this is what Aras is doing – selling Aras on top of EPDM. It will be interesting to see long term if they keep doing it that way.


  7. […] Autodesk, Aras and Integrated PDM / PLM story (PLM Think Tank) […]

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