Do we need super cloud PDM? But wait, we already have PLM…

March 30, 2015

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Cloud is transforming businesses and technologies. CAD and PDM are going to be transformed too. If you had a chance to follow my blog last week, you probably read my thoughts from Develop3D LIVE conference in Warwick, England. If you missed, navigate to my previous post – Develop3D LIVE set the stage for cloud CAD competition.

I found it interesting, but cloud CAD is coming at first to solve old PDM problem – multiple file copies, revision management, branching, data sharing and collaboration. If I look on both Autodesk Fusion360 and Onshape, I can see that PDM functionality is coming included. By doing that, new future price of PDM licenses is finally set to zero. However, there are some complications too.

Does cloud CAD/PDM solve all data management problems? There is no simple answer on this question. Here is the thing. If you think about single system – Fusion360 or Onshape, you can think about PDM as a solved problem. However, if you zoom out in your company business, the first question you can ask – what happens if I want to use both systems? Should I get two clouds? What will be interoperability between these two and future cloud CAD systems? Some of my thoughts about that are here – will cloud CAD inherit data interoperability problem?

Actually, cloud CAD systems are not alone in this multi-cloud challenge. My attention caught by TechCrunch article – BetterCloud Raises $25 Million From Accel To Create Universal Tools For Monitoring The Office Cloud. The opportunity BetterCloud is related to management multiple cloud services used by the same organization. While Google Docs and Office365 are much widely used than Fusion360, Onshape and cloud SolidWorks, the problem is very similar. Here is my favorite passage from the article:

That competition has been great for corporate IT departments in providing choice, but the diversity of options has also dramatically increased the complexity of managing these clouds within a corporate environment. Identities need to synchronize across platforms, and monitoring the performance and security of these services is challenging, particularly in a time of austerity in many IT budgets.In short, managing multiple clouds – or even just one – requires a whole new set of tools.

The association with Google Docs and Office is especially helpful, since Onshape is using Google Docs paradigm to demonstrate core principles of new cloud CAD architecture.

Manufacturing companies are familiar with the situation when they need to manage multiple PDM systems. Very often, this is a CAD/PDM/PLM configuration for companies using multiple CAD systems and central PLM/ERP systems. In such situation, companies are managing CAD data with PDM developed by each CAD vendors. It helps to maintain CAD version compatibility and support multiple CAD systems. Does it mean that double PDM tax will be coming to the cloud too?

What is my conclusion? Cloud systems are slowly became reality in many businesses these days. However, while solving one problem, it can bring new problems. Or, actually, it takes an existing problem and moves it to another place – to the cloud. Engineers will have to work with multiple cloud systems and leverage their advantages. However, it also creates new level of data management complexities. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of sumetho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Develop3D LIVE: The stage for “cloud CAD” competition

March 27, 2015

stairways-to-cloud

I attended Develop 3D Live yesterday in Warwick UK. It is probably the only vendor independent event focusing on CAD, 3D, design and engineering. It was my first time at Develop 3D Live. I think number of attendees was about 1’500 – 2’000 people at its peak time. All major CAD vendors presented at the event – Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC and Siemens PLM. It was also first time public appearance for Onshape. The event was live streamed to U.S. time zones and had good twitter coverage at #D3DLive. You can follow the history of twitter stream here. I’m sure Develop3D will make recording available too.

Future CAD – #1 topic on the list

The future of CAD was the #1 topic on the list. The theme was set clear – cloud CAD. The agenda included keynotes from all CAD vendors – Carl Bass (Autodesk), Jon Hircshticsk (Onshape), Dan Staples (Siemens PLM), Gian Paolo Bassi (Dassault / SolidWorks), Brian Thompson (PTC) and the panel discussion (Future CAD) with Jon Hirschtick, Mike Payne, Kevin Schneider, Gian Paolo Bassi and Nikola Bozinovic (Frame / aka Mainframe2). Presentation, panel, off line conversation made me think about this interesting “cloud moment” in engineering software. I’ve heard it from many people during the event – it is a time to shake CAD industry again.

A new history of cloud CAD

I think, the first time time, word “cloud” was mentioned out loud by one of major CAD vendors was SolidWorks World 2010. That was the time when SolidWorks introduced SolidWorks cloud prototype, which worked in browser and on Mac OS. Here is the passage I captured from Cadalyst article back in 2010.

Next came the buzz-worthy preview of SolidWorks on the cloud (aka software as a service, or SaaS), wherein software is hosted on powerful server farms and users access it using an Internet browser. “This is designed not for flash, but to solve problems and make your life easier,” Ray said, adding that the technology has been in development for three years. Cloud computing overcomes the challenges of software installation and maintenance and, according to the company, keeps data secure. It is multi-platform by its very nature, meaning it is accessible to users regardless of operating system, and it can accommodate touch-based modeling and finger and pen interaction — that is, any wireless-connected device from anywhere could link the user to the full functionality of the 3D software

The period of time between 2010 and 2015 is a good demonstration of the speed of changes in engineering industry domain. It took long five years, lot of debates, many technological changes and here you go – cloud CAD became mainstream topic in the conference agenda. It still doesn’t mean the majority of CAD users are moving to the cloud. But the trend is clear – people are exploring the opportunity and potential of cloud CAD today. The reality – we are just scratching the beginning of a much bigger change of what cloud CAD will do to engineering and manufacturing software. The fun time is ahead.

Business and licensing model changes

Cloud is a topic that often brings confusion between technology and licensing. Cloud based business models are taking their roots back into ASP business (Application Service Provider) and, lately, to SaaS (Software as a Service). SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. The “hosting” element of SaaS is not required and you can provide subscriptions for the software installed on a desktop too.

Subscription based licensing popularity is growing in engineering and manufacturing software. Many of CAD and PLM vendors are shifting their licensing into “subscription only” these days. Although, licensing is very important, it is not specifically related to “cloud CAD” discussion in my view. There are many examples of software that delivered as installed application, but sold on subscription basis.

Technologies

The discussion is heating up when it comes to cloud CAD and technologies. I want to mention some of them – data management, graphic, geometry modeling, browser, security, virtualization.

Data management is one of the key components of cloud CAD. Some of you can be surprised, but cloud CAD is coming first to solve PDM problems related to poor data management of CAD files – accessibility, locations, references, copies, sharing, versions, collaboration. To make it happen, cloud CAD should come with solid data foundation capable to manage data using modern database and cloud storage technologies.

Graphic systems. The debates here are going around how rich CAD graphic can be available on different devices – laptops and mobile devices. Remember, original CAD high performance workstations had impressive performance characteristics. Very often, CAD systems worked with dedicated graphic cards and specific memory requirements. How is it going to change? Time will show that.

Geometry modeling is important for CAD and in defines critical foundation characteristics. Interesting enough, this technology is not much in focus for the moment. I didn’t capture many discussions about that. It looks like CAD vendors are going to leverage existing geometrical kernels and will focus on geometric modeling later. Although, I can see some interesting potential to simplify migration from existing CAD systems to new cloud products using same geometric modelers. The most interesting one here is SolidWorks and SolidEdge to Onshape migration (all systems are sharing Parasolid kernel).

Browser. This is an important technological component to deliver cloud CAD. The debates “cloud vs. browser” are heating up. The ability of browser to run full CAD system is an interesting opportunity that cannot be underestimated. If browser will be capable to deliver full CAD functionality, it can become a big deal in removing entry barrier for customers. It is also connected to the discussion about “offline” use. Internet is still unreliable in some places and we are going to hear many debates how to get advantage of cloud CAD without internet access.

Security. This is “red herring” discussion. The topic of security is important, but it is equally important for non-CAD domains. Each group of customers will take their own path and speed in cloud adoption and security requirements will follow these groups.

Virtualization. This is an interesting technological topic. Especially, when it comes to the desktop. The potential to virtualize desktop and run all Windows applications “as is” on the cloud is inspiring many companies. It brings many other questions. One of them – do we really want to bring messy desktop experience to the cloud? I’d prefer to leave all file and data management problems behind and not to move it to the cloud. However, virtualization can be a greatest short term opportunity for cloud and CAD.

Cloud CAD: products and differentiations

I assume all CAD vendors are recognizing cloud as a trend, opportunity and change that is coming to the industry. Their strategies and reactions are different. Some of them are using cloud as a jump start to shake up the industry. On the conservative side, vendors accept cloud as a technology for new type of delivery models. Below, I put a short summary capturing position and reaction of CAD vendors on cloud CAD future as it was discussed during Develop3D Live.

Autodesk: Cloud is strategic direction for Autodesk. According to Autodesk, cloud is not a future, but reality Autodesk is living for the last five years. Autodesk developed many cloud products. Autodesk Fusion360 is a central part of cloud CAD offering. The focus of Fusion360 to provide support for design, engineering and manufacturing workflows by leveraging data and social collaboration.

autodeskcloud

Dassault Systems / SolidWorks: Cloud is a delivery technology for SolidWorks and Dassault. SolidWorks Industrial Design is a new cloud product for conceptual design. Cloud is part of a broader vision of 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which support a diverse set of design, engineering and manufacturing workflows.

solidworkscloud

Onshape: As a newcomer company, Onshape is laser focused on technological differentiators – pure browser and no installation required. PDM functions are included in core Onshape product and provide support for versions, branches, undo/redo and collaboration.

onshapecloud

PTC: Unfortunately, I missed PTC session at Develop3D Live. In my view, PTC is slowly moving towards cloud. One of their last announcements was about new “cloud PLM” offerings. I also think, PTC was the last CAD vendor that said “cloud” word in public. I haven’t heard about anything related to “cloud CAD” from PTC. But maybe PTC is baking something for coming PTC Live conference .

Siemens PLM / SolidEdge: Cloud is clearly a delivery technology for SolidEdge. Recently announced cloud trial version of SolidEdge delivered using virtualization layer and it is complimentary to their cloud PLM IaaS strategies.

solidedge-cloud

What is my conclusion? It is a time to shake CAD industry with cloud. I’ve heard this statement many times from attendees of Develop3D Live. It will be interesting to see the development of products and technologies for the next few years. For new vendors like Onshape (and maybe few others in stealth mode) it will be a race towards traction and customer adoption. Established CAD vendors can clearly leverage their existing customer base. It is much easier to preserve existing customers rather than sell to new ones. I’m sure we will see many interesting turns and new opportunities discovered on the road to cloud CAD. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Develop3D Live agenda: Cloud CAD, 3D printing and more

March 25, 2015

develop3dlive-bags

I’m in Warwick today getting prepared for Develop3D Live conference, which will be tomorrow. The full conference agenda is here. Develop3D will be live streaming main stage of the event to US – there registration link is here and information about scheduling.

The number of the bags and main stage session hall can give some indication about potential size of the event. Numbers will be tomorrow… I was reading through the conference agenda and decided to share some of my thoughts.

Cloud CAD is a main topic on the agenda

I got a feeling that cloud and more specifically “cloud CAD” will become the key topic for the conference. Keynotes from Carl Bass of Autodesk and Jon Hirschtick of Onshape in the morning is a clear indication about what will set a stage for Develop3D Live conference. Another two sessions from new SolidWorks CEO Jean-Paolo Bassi “What is next?” and “Trends, challenges and opportunities” in design and engineering by Dan Staples of Siemens PLM just an additional confirmation – CAD is the topic on the agenda. Frame (the new name Mainframe2) is also presentation on the same topic – Why CAD in the cloud is closer than you think?

Start-up business

It is unusual to see a whole track of agenda dedicated to building engineering and manufacturing startups. It includes presentation by Rob Misslebrook of Mylor Ventures about funding of projects and visionary sessions about new industrial revolution by Autodesk and Protoabs UK presenting about how to support manufacturing start-ups with manufacturing resources and advisory.

3D printing is around us

If your interest in 3D printing, you can spend a whole day on 3D printing / make track. It includes industry sessions, visionary and examples of companies using 3D printing in their business

What is my conclusion? No conclusion yet. Look forward to the event. The final session of the event – panel discussion about future of CAD. That should be interested. It is not clear yet who will attend that session. Stay tuned and follow #D3DLive on twitter tomorrow.

Best, Oleg

Few photos from Warwick this morning.

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PLM has a weak point in cloud-based supply chain

March 24, 2015

Global-plm-supply-network

My attention was caught by Manufacturing Trends to watch in 2015 article written by Jeff Moad at Manufacturing Leadership Community. I missed that writing few months ago when it was published. I found one of them very interesting – The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chain. Here is a passage from the article:

The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chains. As the manufacturing landscape becomes more interconnected and interdependent, requiring close cooperative links with multiple supply chain partners in multiple locations for materials, parts production and the support of new multi-channel services, companies will increasingly adopt cloud and more predictive web-based supply chain software to help manage and swiftly reconfigure their networks to gain real-time visibility, cut time-to-market, and respond faster to customer changes and potentially disruptive political and natural risks.

It made me think again about new enterprise software reality for PLM vendors and changes in manufacturing eco-system. The interconnected manufacturing landscape is a key. It gives an interesting opportunity for software vendors thinking about cloud software as a platform, rather than a bunch of servers hosted elsewhere. At the same time, it raises many questions about how new generation of enterprise software will handle modern people and organization paradigm. One of the challenges for many PLM products and platforms is related to their ability to manage multiple organizations in distributed networks. Which can be a weak point for many of them to capture cloud-based supply chain opportunity.

What is my conclusion? Modern PLM software can embrace new paradigm of interconnected and interdependent manufacturing environment. This is quite different from traditional environments of OEMs and suppliers. The ability to manage distributed processes will become critical and can be one of the future differentiators for some PLM vendors. It looks like born in the cloud PLM technologies can gain some advantages here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technology and focus

March 18, 2015

onshape-fusion-apples-to-apples

For the last few years cloud became such a fuzzy buzzword, that to say about some software “cloud application” is basically means nothing. All companies are shifting towards cloud. So, to understand “how” actual product is leveraging cloud technology is absolutely important to make a comparison. I’ve been discussing the topic of “how to” with regards to different cloud approaches – PDM/PLM. Why cloud? Wrong question… I think, recent appearance of Onshape generated a large amount of industry discussion about how “cloud CAD” tools can be using different cloud technologies.

SolidSmack came with a great idea of simultaneous interview featuring parallel Q&A with Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick. 6 questions, 100 words to answer. Short and sweet. Navigate you browsers to the link – Carl Bass + Jon Hirschtick = CAD in The Cloud Interview of the Year and enjoy the read.

I’ve been reading Q&A and was trying to find a key difference between Onshape and Autodesk Fusion 360 approaches. You probably had a chance to read my previous article – Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of cloud CAD. The last Q&A didn’t change my opinion about that. I still believe both Autodesk and Onshape are recognizing cloud as a biggest trend and opportunity to improve design, engineering and manufacturing tools. At the same time, SolidSmack’s Q&A helped me to find a two important differentiations between Autodesk Fusion 360 and Onshape.

Full CAD in a browser

You can clearly read Jon’s statements about “full cloud”, which goes across all his answers. Technologically, it translated in the tech approach to provide full Onshape 3D design capabilities completely in a “browser”. Here is the passage, which explains that in the best way:

Jon: We at Onshape have a very clear and unique strategy: full-cloud 3D CAD. Our full 3D CAD system runs in browsers — no downloads or installs — and on phones and tablets. Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad — full 3D CAD on any of these.

You still need to install Onshape app to run on mobile devices (I use Onshape iOS app on my iPhone and iPad). So, pure browser solution is applicable approach for running Onshape on Mac, Windows and Chromebook. Yesterday, I had to re-install a very early Onshape app on my iOS because it was crashing to run with upgraded version of Onshape (this is just my guess). Which is again a confirmation that any installation is potentially creating an additional barrier of complexity.

An integrated cloud-based experience

Autodesk Fusion 360 is focusing on how to provide a complete workflow for users going from the early design stage to manufacturing and fabrication. Here is the passage from Q&A:

Carl: We wanted to solve many of the problems that people experience today in terms of the workflows necessary to accomplish their overall jobs—so we used the best of cloud and mobile technology to build a comprehensive CAD system that goes all the way from ideation to fabrication.

Experience is a popular word in a lexicon of modern software. And this is absolutely important for users these days. The traditional experience is to run dozens of tools on a desktop and use files for interoperability between them. This file-based approach has many flaws and, I think, time finally came to change that. Autodesk’s focus to use cloud technologies to connect workflows and integrate between different stages of design is absolutely important.

Next week, I will have an opportunity to attend Develop3D Live where both Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are going to speak about cloud CAD. Agenda is here. Develop3D will live stream the event – registration link is here.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk has more mature product, which leverage almost 5 years of Autodesk development and experiments with different cloud tools and customers. Integrated cloud product experience on top of Autodesk A360 platform can be an advantage for many users. Coming later in the game, Onshape is more focusing on developing of unique “pure browser” technologies that can provide differentiation to users – ease of access and simplicity of data collaboration. I don’t see two approaches as mutually exclusive. Onshape apps on mobile devices is a confirmation that Onshape tech can be used with installed software too. At the same time, Autodesk focus on integrated workflows can become more important for Onshape later in the game. At the same time, Autodesk can innovate future with the ways applications are installing and used. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Offline cloud and why CAD / PLM industry discussion is important

March 10, 2015

cad-plm-industry-discussion

Yesterday was a very busy day for online community of people involved in engineering and manufacturing software. Onshape, the new cloud CAD ventured founded by Jon Hirschtick and the team announced about availability of public beta. It was hard to miss that announcement in the spike of publications about Onshape. Tons of opinions, initial experience, concerns – this is all good stuff.

My special attention caught by Autodesk CEO Carl Bass blog post – Setting the Record Straight. For the last five years, I’ve seen Autodesk as one of the most visible and prominent supporters of cloud technologies in CAD / PLM business (full transparency – I was Autodesk employee for the last 2.5 years). Autodesk for sure gathered a lot of experience in development and operation of cloud software. So, Carl’s opinion was very insightful. In one of my earlier blog posts I put some of my thoughts why I think Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are in the agreement about cloud CAD. But it was clear to me, there are differences as well. I captured few of them in the Carl’s post and wanted to share my thoughts about that.

The first point is about offline and cloud. Here is the passage I captured:

How do we know offline is important? Because when we first rolled out Fusion 360, the single biggest complaint we got is that people wanted access to their data and tools even when they had limited or no Internet connectivity. And how do we know about the tradeoffs? Because we built the tools that more engineers use on web, mobile and desktops than anyone else in the world. Our goal is to make sure our customers have access to the tools and data they need on any device they want.

I think the key point here is "tradeoffs" and real experience. Each customer scenario can be slightly different. If you have limited access to internet, you probably not cloud CAD user. However, in case you are going in the basement of manufacturing facilities or product site with no access, or (this is classic sales example) you want to design on board of airplane, you will appreciate offline access to a snapshot of the data.

My personal experience with Gmail and Google Docs about the same topic shows that you want to get some offline access and there are moment of times, it is very important. Some of them are covered by apps synching a snapshot of your last few days of emails on the device and some of them can be added to the list of actions I can handle when I go back online. What would be very important for me is how seamlessly software can go between online and offline mode. In many situations, I would prefer not to have offline mode if it will make my sync process cumbersome. My hunch, people favorite Google Apps because their online access first. Microsoft Outlook is one of the best tools I used that can provide smooth email sync. However, CAD data relationships and dependencies can introduce a significant challenge to make offline access efficient. But this is an interesting and complex feature to watch.

The second point I captured is related to browsers and installed applications. Here is the comment from Carl post:

Now let me directly address the question of access to the cloud via browsers or apps. Look at your phone or tablet where both the browser and apps exist. Which one do you choose to use? It depends. If I’m accessing my email I tend to use the mail apps on my devices. If I’m using Evernote or Twitter or A360, I prefer the apps. But there are many times where the browser is more convenient and over time, the browser will definitely get better.

The key point I care about is what is my experience. This is what really matters to me. We live at the time roles of operation systems, browsers and applications are often exchanged. While you may think about Chrome as a browser, for Chromebook users, it is an entire operation system. For the last few years we considering installation of software as something disturbing things we like to avoid. At the same time, we are installing tons of apps on our mobile devices and browsers. For many situations, I don’t care about installation until it can update itself when it needed and unless it doesn’t impact what I do – experience is a thing to remember.

However, despite some level of disagreement between Jon and Carl, the following summary is really important. In my view, it is an excellent summary of why cloud is important for the future of engineering and manufacturing software. Here are few passages:

First and foremost, the cloud provides access to nearly infinite and scalable computing power at reasonable costs. In the world of engineering, this is incredibly powerful. We have used the cloud for compute-intensive tasks like visualization, simulation and analysis. The second thing that the cloud is ideally suited to do is be the central coordination point for storage, data management and collaboration. Behind all of our cloud-based products are the tools that allow people to manage their data and their projects.

What is my conclusion? Onshape availability is a great news for the industry of engineering and manufacturing software. Fusion360 and Onshape are two very important products to watch for the next few years. The competition means there is a market to compete for and there is an interest from customers. We can clearly see it now. Beyond that, open discussion is a very good thing to build a healthy industry. Vendors will be innovating and competing – customers will be the first to leverage that. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Who will be the last “cloud PLM” vendor?

March 9, 2015

cloud-plm-first-mover

I’ve been doing lots of reading today. So, I decided to share some of them related to business strategies, sales, competition and cloud adoption. The first one from Peter Thiel’s lecture about business strategies and first movers. Navigate here to listen. Here is my favorite passage:

So even if the market starts small, you can grow your business quickly enough to stay at the same size as the growing market and maintain the monopoly of power. Now the critical thing about these monopolies is it’s not enough to have a monopoly for just a moment. The critical thing is have one that lasts over time and so in Silicon Valley there is always this sort of idea that you want to be the first mover and I always think in some ways the better framing is you want to be the last mover. You want to be one of the last companies in that category, those are the ones that are really valid. Microsoft was the last operating system, at least for many decades. Google was the last search engine. Facebook will be valuable if it turns out to be the last of social networking site.

Another one was about selling to new vs existing customers. Navigate to the following article to read more – 87 New (Really) Marketing Automation Stats. Here is the passage:

According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can generate a 75% increase in profitability. And it’s 6 times more costly to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. (Forrester Research, Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer, Oct 2013)

And the last one was about competition between Microsoft and Google – Everyone is talking about how Microsoft Office 365 is suddenly beating Google Apps. It speaks about adoption of Microsoft Office 365 product – a cloud version of desktop Microsoft Office. Here is a shocking numbers:

“Over the last six to nine months, Office 365 usage has skyrocketed,” he told us. “We see it on our network. We see usage of applications.” Up until last October, Google Apps was more popular, he said, and Salesforce and Box were the most popular apps used at work. That’s all changed. “Office 365 hasn’t quite taken over Salesforce.com yet, but it probably will in the next few months,” he says.

This is happening because Microsoft “is going around to every organization in the world and saying, ‘hey, you know your email, you’re on-premise Exchange server? You need to move that to the cloud. And here’s financial incentives to do that.”

All together, it made me think about cloud PLM adoption. Last week I put some of my thoughts about changing landscape of public cloud PLM usage. It is interesting to watch dynamics of cloud PLM adoption. There are companies that clearly can see themselves as a pioneers in PLM cloud. However, large PLM vendors are coming with new cloud strategies and selling them to existing customers. You can see some parallels between Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.

Here is a news I just captured about new Dassault System 3DEXPERIENCE release 2015x. Navigate to Develop3D to read -Dassault Systèmes 3DExperience platform gets immediate update via the Cloud. Here is a very interesting passage:

Billed as ‘the largest cloud portfolio in the market’, businesses already employing the platform on public or private clouds were automatically updated to release new benefits, with more than 250 new capabilities within the transportation and mobility industry sector alone.“Every single cloud customer is already taking advantage of the volume of new enhancements we’ve implemented in R2015x, demonstrating the power of the cloud model,” said Dominique Florack, senior executive VP, R&D, Dassault Systèmes. “We are the first to truly take advantage of this model, in its simplicity, for our customers of all types and sizes.”

What is my conclusion? Cloud PLM is coming in a very interesting phase of competition – the competition for PLM mind. In many situations, it is about how to sell PLM to existing customers. These customers might have few PLM implementations already done. They are looking how to improve processes, replace some old tech and leverage cloud with low upfront cost of PLM. These customers might consider some coexisting strategies with old tools. Who will sell them new PLM solutions. If I rephrase Peter Thiel, who will become the “last cloud PLM vendor” in the market. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to re-check…

March 6, 2015

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The question how to implement PLM cloud is one of the most confusing when it comes to the decision about choosing one of available PLM solutions on the market today. The time when PLM vendors used "cloud" as a differentiation is over. Most of PLM vendors are comfortable with "cloud" word and the number of companies considering cloud as part of their PLM strategy is growing. How to decide what is the right cloud strategy for you? The dilemma of public vs private cloud is one of the most challenging for many companies.

My attention was caught by ReadWrite web article – You Think Private Clouds Are More Stable And Agile Than Public? Think Again. The article provides a set of good arguments for public cloud option. Here is my favorite passage:

Of course, your CIO’s job is only truly threatened by the public cloud if she chooses to fight it, or mindlessly continues to believe she can build a better cloud than Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. For 99.999% of enterprises, building your own cloud or data center may be a comforting way to stick with old habits, but it’s generally going to be the wrong decision. While there are certainly workloads that will perform better or need to be secured within the four walls of your firewall, the reality is that most infrastructure belongs in the cloud.

No, You Can’t. It’s a convenient fiction that public cloud is unreliable compared to private IT. But let’s be clear: it’s fiction, not fact. Here’s the reality on public cloud up-time: last year Amazon Web Services managed 99.9974% uptime despite hefty growth and unparalleled pressure on its infrastructure. Google was even better at 99.999% uptime. (Microsoft Azure performed a bit worse, though still quite well, according to the Cloud Harmony data.)

In lights of this article, I decided to make a check and see what cloud options are supported by different PLM vendors. Here is a short summary of my discovery (alphabetical order of vendors).

1- Aras PLM is supporting Azure public cloud and, in addition to that saying that Aras is capable to run on any cloud infrastructure (public and private). Here is the link to Aras website.

2- Arena Solutions is cloud solutions. There is no specific information on the website about public vs. private options. My assumption, Arena is public cloud.

3- Autodesk PLM360 is cloud only solution. There is no specific public vs. private information on PLM360 website. My assumption PLM360 is public cloud.

4- Dassault Systems announced to support all cloud options by 2015. See my blog about it. I cannot find a link to a specific cloud configuration available for the moment. The following link presents a list of ENOVIA on the cloud products.

5- Oracle Agile PLM is available via hosted environment. The link with more information is here via Oracle partners. I wasn’t able to find specific information about public vs. private cloud options. More information is here.

6- PTC PLM cloud is supporting both private and public cloud options as you can see it from PTC website. Here is the link, which presents PTC cloud portfolio stating private instance for both premium and enterprise cloud options.

7- SAP cloud applications website is not providing any link to PLM solutions. At the same time, SAP PLM website has zero references to cloud solutions.

8- Siemens PLM is supporting IaaS based cloud deployment. According to the information on the following link, TeamCenter is compatible with Amazon Web services and future support is planned for IBM and Microsoft clouds.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM vendors are supporting public cloud. It is a real change and it just happened over the past 2-3 years. However, devil is in details. A specific architecture of cloud solution can make a difference. In the past, I put several articles discussing details of cloud technologies. The following link can be a good starting point to discuss definition of true cloud PLM solution. In a nutshell it comes to 4 things – available on demand, hosted, elastic, global access. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Rethinking PLM ROI in cloud era

March 6, 2015

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To measure ROI is important part of PLM implementation decision. These days companies are less interested in 3-5 years implementation roadmaps. Therefore, discussion about PLM ROI can be very painful. It is better to get prepared upfront. PLM ROI is not a simplest thing to get into. I put some of my thoughts why hard to sell PLM ROI earlier on my blog.I think companies have problems to measure ROI related to PLM implementations. The level company are measuring product development efficiency is far from the maturity, especially compared to company financial activities.

Jim Brown’s guest post on PTC Creo blog made me think again about PLM ROI. Navigate to Cloud PLM – A Big Return with a Smaller Investment to read more. Turns out cloud can change PLM ROI mathematics. Here is my favorite passage from the post:

Cloud Changes ROI Mathematics. The ROI for cloud solutions is fundamentally different. On-premise, licensed approaches take a lot of justification and validation before pulling the trigger. Why? Because you have to commit to spend a lot of money without any guarantee that you’ll get a return. Effectively, your “I” is fixed and your “R” is variable. That means you have to make a big bet on the value and you can end up upside-down on your investment. With cloud, your cost is aligned with value. As more people use the system the costs rise proportionally. That takes away the big financial hole that you had to dig at the beginning of a project and had to hope it would pay off. It also puts the vendor in the same camp as you. If you aren’t successful, neither are they. That’s a “win-win."

It made me think more deeply about PLM ROI formula in the cloud era. Cloud (or SaaS) systems are bringing changes into two aspects – (1) upfront cost and (2) IT investment and running cost. All together it converted into cost of "PLM services". I agree with Jim – it makes PLM more affordable for many companies by reducing an initial barrier to get into PLM world.

And it does change PLM ROI math. Assuming companies can implement PLM faster (no time for installation, hardware allocation, etc.) and upfront cost is lower, the return on PLM investment will be faster. However, here is a thing… Despite all obvious advantages of the cloud model, cloud PLM cannot solve fundamental problems of PLM implementations – most of PLM implementation got stuck with people and organizational changes. So, after quick honeymoon, cloud PLM systems can get back to the traditional math related to PLM ROI. And it all starts from the way to measure value. This is where core problem of PLM ROI calculations. Jim speaks about alignment of cost and value. The value of cloud PLM will be reflected in usage and aligned with cost. However, I can see it only as a starting point. PLM vendors should think beyond just PLM usage. Cloud PLM is an opportunity to provide a calculated real time ROI.

Think about cloud software and PLM DevOps. The ability to monitor and measure processes is increased because of nature of cloud software. PLM vendors can help organizations with measurement of their PLM ROI. Cloud software can give much more tools to provide KPI and related parameters that can be used to calculate ROI. However, manufacturing companies will have to do their job by bringing organizational information into PLM systems. Without that, ROI will be a fantasy of PLM vendors.

What is my conclusion? Cloud PLM is not a silver bullet to solve a problem with slow PLM ROI. Cloud reduces upfront cost and can show value of PLM faster. However, organization should focus on how to measure value of PLM implementations. At the same time, PLM vendors have an opportunity to develop measurement tools that will help to customers to make a value of PLM clear. Overall, cloud brings a new opportunity to both customers and vendors to streamline PLM value proposition and show clear ROI. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How cloud CAD can avoid “double PDM tax”

March 5, 2015

cloud-cad-API

My yesterday post – Will cloud CAD inherit data interoperability problem? raised few interesting discussion about cloud data management in PDM/PLM implementations. How cloud CAD/PDM will make our life simpler? In my view, the most important part is to exclude files from data management chain. By doing that, new cloud based CAD systems are able to make data flow much easier. Existing check-in/out behavior will become redundant in cloud systems, cloud applications can save data instantaneously and redundantly and will allow you to restore to any point of changes. I also hope cloud CAD systems will have lock function in case you want to prevent somebody else from changing your design. The same mechanism will also provide a way to branch design options much easily by leveraging direct data access to all design data stored in the cloud databases. This is my dream scenario.

However, data interoperability of new CAD/PDM bundles seems to be a potential point of failure. And it is can slow down adoption of cloud CAD systems in environments that require integration with existing desktop CAD, PDM and PLM systems. The following Engineering.com article can give you some context to the problem -Dassault or Siemens PLM? The Contrasting Paths of Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars. It speaks about challenges of large manufacturing companies related to usage of CATIA V6 / ENOVIA PDM. Here are few passages that caught my attention:

Volvo invested in Siemens PLM solution Teamcenter as a backbone, and kept CATIA V5. However, the automaker is reluctant to switch to CATIA V6 and the 3DEXPERIENCE/Enovia V6 platform. "We will not use the V6 version if it requires double PDM installations", says VCC’s Andreas Westholm, IT Director – Geely Liaison.

Volvo will not use CATIA V6 if it requires a second PDM implementationAll CATIA files are managed in Teamcenter. Since Volvo does not have any plans at this time to migrate to CATIA V6, they don’t need Dassault’s Enovia PDM as an intermediate step in the data management.

”It is not possible to work effectively with two PDM systems”, asserts the Volvo IT-director. ”And we will not use CATIA V6 if it requires double PDM installations. However, we will bring in a new V5-V6 release that facilitates the import of V6 information”.

Potentially, any cloud CAD (with embedded PDM functionality) can create a situation similar to CATIA V6, which is a problem. Engineering and manufacturing companies have very slow process of new software adoption. So, to be successful, cloud CAD systems will have to co-exist and be used alongside with existing desktop CAD systems. What is even more important, new cloud CAD systems will have to be integrated with existing PLM products to become part of product development processes. How to prevent future cloud CAD systems from a problem described by Volvo? How to avoid future "double PDM tax" on cloud CAD systems?

I think the answer is in a new cloud system architecture. It reminded me one of my old posts – Why PLM needs to learn Web APIs? A potential solution to the double PDM integration problem is future cloud CAD platforms, web APIs and data openness. Think about the way most of modern web platforms are consuming data. Seamless data streaming, avoiding local temp file storage and standard REST-based API is allowing us to create better integration between web systems. This is a way new cloud CAD solutions can be seamlessly integrated into existing PLM solutions and eliminate "double PDM tax".

What is my conclusion? Future of cloud CAD/PDM bundles is promising and can provide many advantages to users – transparent data management, ease of revision management and collaboration. However, it is very important to think how new cloud solutions will be integrated with existing PLM platforms. Openness and web-based APIs are two most critical elements to support integration and adoption of new systems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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