Cloud PLM debates about multitenant models

The discussion about cloud PLM is growing these days. Big players are entering the game. Latest announcement made by Siemens PLM about TeamCenter on the cloud just emphasized that PLM cannot avoid the "cloud" game. The list of cloud options for PLM today including a long list of companies – Autodesk PLM 360, Aras, Arena Solutions, Dassault Enovia V6, Dexma PLM from Ascon, PTC Windchil / IBM, TeamCenter and more. One of the questions that always raised by customers and analysts in this space is so-called "multi-tenat model". Usually confusing and raising many debates about what is "true cloud" solution, this topic is indeed very important and provide significant differentiations from both technological and business standpoint.

I’ve made few write ups earlier this year about cloud and multi-tenancy. One of them – Cloud PLM: what do you need to know about multitenancy provides a deep analyzes of all options multi-tenant implementation options. Two additional posts – What Oracle multi-tenancy means for PLM providers and Cloud PLM and IaaS options are discussing various aspects of multi-tenant implementations and cloud infrastructure usage.

Cloud PLM arguments

I can identify two major groups of people arguing about what means "cloud" for PLM and enterprise, in general. One group is saying that cloud PLM is just the ability to put PLM server located in "another place". I agree – this is one of the options. Second group of people is defining cloud PLM as "a service" available from some business applications located "somewhere" outside of customer infrastructure. ASP is not a new option and use d by many vendors in the cloud domain. SaaS option assumes you provide services (only) and make infrastructure (eg. IaaS) transparent.

I suggest to take a deeper look. The following article came to my attention couple of weeks ago – Ask the Experts: What’s the Difference between ASP and SaaS? In my view, it provides good arguments to both of these models: ASP and SaaS. The following two pictures show the diagram of the options. I liked the following passage:

The difference between ASP and SaaS providers lies mainly in the way they manage their respective computing resources… Most ASPs use a single environment for each customer, which means that they provide a specific application that is set up for the individual customer. Each customer uses the business software as a single tenant, and does not share it with anyone else. All application setup configuration, and sometimes even server and operation configuration, is unique for each client. On the other hand, with a SaaS provider, all customers share the same computing resources: servers, application, and database in a so-called multitenant model. So, while an ASP hosts the application environment in its own “building,” a SaaS provider uses the same application environment for all its customers, and they all share the same “building” (see figures 1 and 2)

Cloud ASP Model

Cloud SaaS Model

What is my conclusion? Most of the manufacturing companies are still not well educated about infrastructure and different "cloud options". To understand them is important for IT decision processes. I think to claim buzzwords like "true cloud" or "false cloud" is a fundamentally wrong approach. Both ASP and SaaS models are optimizing resources and cost of the infrastructure . ASP model is more "resources neutral" – you just pull resources by "moving servers outside of your company". At the same time, SaaS (or service model) hides servers resources from your company and provide "the resource consumption view". Such view is generally more focused on business functions and less on IT compared to ASP model. To understand the implication of each of these models on your company operation can help you to decide. Important. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of [nattavut] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 Responses to Cloud PLM debates about multitenant models

  1. I do not think moving existing functionality to some server outside the date center is very interesting. PLM is more than 15 years old so is there really that many customers looking to deploy? You recently wrote about the next generation of PLM at Boeing. I suspect they will not deploy the same old features in the cloud. The cloud gives us a chance to rethink PLM. PLM 1.0 did a great job managing CAD files and a BOM, but it was generally used late in the development process, did not cut across organizational boundaries and was not used outside of engineering. PLM 2.0 will address the ad-hoc nature of engineering and therefore be used from day one, easily cut across all boundaries and embrace non-engineering users.

  2. @Vuuch, Thanks for comments! yes, I agree “rethink” PLM is an important opportunity these days when we move systems to the cloud. It is important from both “technological” and “user experience” standpoints. Best, Oleg

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