It is not unusual to hear about problems with PLM systems. It is costly, complicated, hard to implement and non-intuitive. However, I want to raise a voice and speak about data management (yes, data management). Most of PDM/PLM software is running on top of data-management technologies developed and invented 30-40 years ago. The RDBM history is going back to the invention made by Edgar Codd at IBM back in 1970.
I was reading Design News article – Top automotive trends to watch in 2012. Have a read and make your opinion. One of trends was about growing complexity of electrical control units. Here is the quote:
As consumers demand more features and engineers comply, automakers face a dilemma: The number of electronic control units is reaching the point of unmanageability. Vehicles now employ 35 to 80 microcontrollers and 45 to 70 pounds of onboard wiring. And there’s more on the horizon as cameras, vision sensors, radar systems, lanekeeping, and collision avoidance systems creep into the vehicle.
It made me think about potential alternatives. Even if I cannot see any technology these days that can compete on the level of cost, maturity and availability with RDBMS, in my view, now it is a right time to think about future challenges and possible options.
These types of stores became popular over the past few years. Navigate to the following article by Read Write Enterprise -Is the Relational Database Doomed? Have a read. The article (even if it a bit dated) provides a good review of key-value stores as a technological alternative to RDBMS. It obviously includes pros and cons. One of the biggest "pro" to use key-value store is scalability. Obvious bad is an absence of a good integrity control.
NoSQL (Graph databases)
Another interesting example of RDBMS alternative is so-called noSQL databases. The definition and classification of noSQL databases is not stable. Before jumping into noSQL bandwagon, analyze the potential impact of immaturity, complexity and absence of standards. However, over the last 1-2 year, I can see a growing interest into this type of technology. Neo4j is a good example you can experiment with in case you are interested.
Semantic web (or web of data) is not a database technology. Opposite to RDBMS, Key-value stores and graph databases, semantic web is more about how to provide a logical and scalable way to represent data (I wanted to say in "semantic way", but understand the potential of tautology :)). Semantic web relies on a set of W3C standard and combines set of specification describing ways to represent and model data such as RDF and OWL. You can read more by navigating to the following link.
What is my conclusion? I think, the weak point of existing RDBMS technologies in the context of PLM is a growing complexity of data – both from structural and unstructured aspects. The amount of data will raise lots of questions in front of enterprise IT in manufacturing companies and PLM vendors. Just my thoughts…