PLM, Platform Wars and Software Renaissance

Technology is one of my favorite topics. Imagine you want to develop a completely new PLM system. Not a new version of existing PLM product from vendors like Dassault, Siemens PLM, PTC and even Autodesk. Imagine you don’t need to be limited to any restrictions – existing software, historical choices, customer base. What will be your "platform decision"? Even 10 years ago, this question was easy. Microsoft dominance was almost absolute. Windows was considered as a universal platform. The decision variation was around database technology (Oracle, MS SQL or DB2) and few options of web servers and middleware.

These days, the situation is completely different. The amount of "platform choices" is growing exponentially. I’ve been reading TechCrunch article – Bring On The Platform War. I found it interesting. Take few minutes and have a read. You will discover endless list of buzzwords and platform name. Here is the passage I specially liked:

Nowadays, though, while the tools and technologies we use have improved enormously…imagine, God forbid, that you’re building some sort of web service. Should you use Ruby on Rails? Node.js? Python and Django? PHP and Drupal? .NET? Any of the panoply of Java servers? Something new and cool like Go or Scala? And how/where will you host your code? Amazon? Heroku? App Engine? Joyent? EngineYard? How about your app? You’ll have an app, right? On which platforms? Native code? Hybrid HTML5? Cross-compiled with Xamarin? And then there’s your database

The mind gibbers and reels with analysis paralysis. It’s almost enough to make me miss the bygone days of Microsoft’s dominance. Is a mediocre standard better than an industry splintered into a dozen excellent fragments? Is a single authoritarian government better for its citizens than a dozen city-states set against one another in perpetual civil war? And, wait, isn’t better software supposed to make life simpler?

I made me think about PLM development these days. Most of PLM platforms and products were developed 12-15 years ago. These products have long lifecycle, customer base and long list of commitments. Nothing wrong with that. Customers are always good. However, on the opposite side, the real challenge for all these vendors is to take an alternative parallel path and develop new products with a new technologies. Lifecycle is not only about manufacturing product management by PLM software, but it is also about PLM software itself. Software becomes old and requires re-write. It is like a house that you can remodel, but once in a while, you need to demolish the house and build a new one.

What is my conclusion? I agree with TechCrunch article – we live in software renaissance era. It related to software platforms, databases, web, programming languages. The years of "refurbished remodeling" are in the past. Now it is a time to come with a new options and build a new stuff. The biggest challenge in PLM (as well as other enterprise software) is long lifecycle of products and system implementations. The bigger company – the longer PLM software lifecycle. Smaller companies have low barrier to change and they can experiment with new software, platforms and packages. The same I can say about makers revolution – these people and companies are open to choose new tools. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of [thephotoholic] /

One Response to PLM, Platform Wars and Software Renaissance

  1. Here is a response from a high tech startup with it’s roots in the Maker movement.

    ICR3ATE has been working almost 5 years in stealth mode on a secure webtop for 3D Co-design & Co-creation, with safe Cloud power. We have been long waiting on the most promising web standards out there. To name them: WebGL, HTML5 & WebRTC.

    Besides that we were waiting for almost 5 years on NVIDIA with their GRID release as made on CES. Together with the Citrix software stack, these standards and the technology availability has brought us the opportunity to develop and build a web based platform for the SME market, specifically focussing on the most challenging phase from a collaboration point of view: the conceptual design phase.

    We see Autodesk having a keen route through 123D and the consumaration of 3D together with Ponoko, Sculpteo, Shapeways, Materialise, Kraftwurxs, Makerbot (3D Scanning as pormoted on SWSX), etc.

    We welcome this all becasue it paves the way to a whole new market: the sohos, contractors and prosumers who are actively working through community style approach, collectively on large scale 3D Design projects. 3D Systems is taking the same route, so that must be a viable one.

    And we think wtihin months we can offer these proefessionals one of the most intriguing 3D Co-design platforms on the market. For more information I’ll welcome anybody to visit us on GTC 2013 in San Jose. We will be there to demonstrate very early prototype results. For more info on our plan and ambitions, I’ll refer to our Web-site

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