Will ERP be on cloud ahead of PLM?

July 31, 2012

What do you think about PLM vs. ERP competition? Err… Good question, right? In my view, PLM sales people are long time jealous about ERP sales success. The mainstream adoption, CxO focus, the amount of money organizations are spending on ERP and many other factors. PLM companies felt like a step child in front of ERP success. I have to say, situation changed a bit for last 3-5 years. The adoption of PLM is growing enterprise companies more often mention PLM as a strategic investment. Nevertheless, the question of the potential overlaps between PLM and ERP functionality is not unusual when it comes to discussions about Bill of Material, Manufacturing planning, Supply Chain and some others.

Cloud is trending these days. I’m following many discussions about cloud, enterprise software and cloud PLM, specifically. The topic is still very far the consensus. Opinions go sometimes in opposite directions from total adoption of cloud computing and cloud enterprise systems and up to significant concerns about security, performance, licenses and availability. Nevertheless, “cloud” made me think about “what if…”, PLM software can use cloud as “a secret weapon” to outperform ERP companies?

Thinking about that yesterday, I stumbled on the following blog post from CloudAve – Cloud ERP Starts to Break Out–NetSuite Reports Good Numbers. The article speaks about NetSuite. For many people NetSuite doesn’t say much. I’ve been following NetSuite cloud product offering for the last few years and find it very interesting. CloudAve article shed some lights to NetSuite financial performance. Here is what I learned first:

  • Subscription and support revenue was $61.0 million, a 27 percent increase on an annual basis
  • Cash flows from operations were $15.2 million, up by 80 percent from Q2 2011

The increase of subscription for 27 percent sounds to me like a very healthy performance. Remember, we are talking about cloud systems where subscription is the main source of revenues. Article also hints that such a good performance of NetSuite can be a foundation for a future acquisition by Oracle and confrontation with SAP. Here is the passage:

With NetSuite reporting such good numbers, and its success in moving up the food chain, even more credence is given to the “two-tier ERP” notion it’s been evangelizing. I’ve long said that it was only a matter of time before Oracle swoops in to acquire the company (especially so given the fact that Larry Ellison is the biggest shareholder already) and more tightly integrates it in with core Oracle offerings. The acquisition of SuccessFactors by SAP and the corresponding disruption it brings have brought both oracle and NetSuite some breathing room. I suspect however that new SAP Cloud Tzar Lars Dalgaard is working hard on a credible two tier and cloud plan and oracle and NetSuite need to plan for when this comes to fruition.

What is my conclusion? In my view, the jury is still out to judge cloud enterprise offering. Even such companies like Salesforce.com can be considered as well-know leaders of cloud enterprise systems, the coverage of ERP and PLM offering using cloud systems is still very low. Will PLM company miss an opportunity again and lost cloud battle to ERP giants? This is a very valid and important question to ask.

Best, Oleg


COFES 2012 and Cloud Discussion: Why? Why Not? How?

April 17, 2012

One of the topics of second COFES 2012 Congress was about the cloud. I want to refer to one of the most interesting quotes related cloud / internet from Alan Kay keynote at COFES 2012: Since its inception (1969) the internet was never shut down/rebooted! Which other system can boast such performance? Alan Kay at #COFES2012

The discussion during the second-day Congress was moderated by Brad Holtz and Monica Schnitger. In my view, it was one of the most interesting discussions during COFES 2012. Below, I put few tweet messages from #COFES2012 twitter stream that can give you some reflection on what was going on.

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud: Why? Why Not? How?

I think cloud discussions matured over the past 12-24 months. I can clearly see it in the reaction of companies and vendors. 3-4 years ago, cloud was a promise. Few vendors demonstrated successful solutions using cloud software. Among them Google, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and few others. The difference cloud made over the past years turned cloud into a platform. This is an important difference we need to mention. When I first started to blog about cloud solutions in PLM, the most frequent question people asked was “why”? With more and more examples of mainstream cloud deployments, it changed into “Why not”? It became obvious when few cloud services such as dropbox and some others became a mainstream. So, the question I can hear now is mostly “How?” to make cloud work in a most efficient way for a specific customer or user situation.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is a new platform. This is the best conclusion for cloud discussion at COFES 2012. Vendors will have to figure out how to make their solution leveraging this new platform and provide value for customers. Cloud platform will require us to rethink many existing concepts. It will relate to quality, speed, price, openness and many others. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Corporate iCloud, iPLM Future and Google’s Apps?

June 8, 2011

Well…It happened. The marketing machine of Apple meets the cloud and cloud marketing. The result is predicted – iCloud. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Apple shows this week, you can do. Spend 7.5 min and enjoy the remarkable presentation made by Steve Jobs, including statements “it just works” and lesson learned from mobile.me experiments.

Corporate Cloud

The obvious question I was asking myself was about what is a potential influence of coming iCloud to enterprise software in general and specifically for engineering and manufacturing companies. Some of the scenarios and challenges presented by CAD and PLM vendors can be (with a bit oversimplification) presented as a synchronization of the content from iCloud to multiple places. The first obvious scenario is synchronization of libraries and content between OEM and Suppliers. Other scenarios are possible as well. I read the following article on PC Word – ICloud and IOS 5: New Challenges for Business. Take a time, have a read and make your opinion. I found the following passage resonating:

Lion Server delivers wireless file sharing for iPad. When you enable WebDAV in Lion Server, you can access, copy, and share documents on the server from applications such as Keynote, Numbers, and Pages.

While Apple specifically references its iWork apps here, it seems pretty clear that the company is using them merely as examples. That makes sense because Apple used them to demo iCloud’s document capabilities. But it seems clear that this feature will extend to other apps as well.

Some of the features mentioned by PC Word article as well as some announcements made by Apple in the context of new Lion Server can be interesting. Wireless file sharing on the iPad is probably a feature that can become a favorite among managers in every manufacturing (and not only) company.

The future of iPLM?

I tried to marry iCloud to PLM. So, it turns out my experiment was bad. Actually, iPLM already exists and eventrademarked by Dassault Systems. So, without knowing if Steve Jobs is planning to come to manufacturing companies, the place already taken Enovia V6 iPLM. I wasn’t able to find much about Dassault iPLM strategy and development, except of the following picture.

iCloud and Google Apps

When I was listening to Jobs’ demo (which was obviously brilliant), I tried to find what features of coming iCloud strategy cannot be realized today using Google Apps. Here is my net-net: I can access mails, calendars, documents from any devices. The notion of push synchronization promoted by Apple is important. It solves many scenarios related to content access.

What is my conclusion? The key word for the next revolution in enterprise belongs to “device” and “mobility”. iCloud seems to solve the key problem available everywhere – synchronization. The situation was bad on a single computer (i.e. Mac). However, the synchronization is really bad behind the firewall. The solution that solves this problem can provide a significant leapfrog in the corporate IT and engineering and manufacturing applications. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Open Cloud, PLM Backbone and Vendor Lock-In

November 30, 2010

Picture-41-300x199.pngVendor Lock-In is painful. I think, customers in the space of CAD/PLM even more sensitive to this issue. Proprietary CAD formats used by vendors many years, which allowed them to charge premium fees. Recently, we learned that Data Backbone lock-in can be even more dangerous. Customers are spending millions in their data management infrastructures and proprietary platforms. It helps them later to navigate customers like Daimler to right decisions.

I just learned about IBM VISION Cloud initiative. More about IBM VISION Cloud in IBM press release. Navigate your browser to the following link and read the interview from Dr, Yaron Wolfsthal, IBM’s senior manager responsible for VISION Cloud.

The EU-funded VISION Cloud initiative, led by IBM, has been launched and is focused on creating a metadata format that will enable users’ data to be interoperable among Cloud service providers. This is potentially a huge development for all business, but especially small businesses, which run the risk of vendor lock-in and general unhappiness when they find that it’s not cost-effective to switch Cloud vendors should they encounter problems.

As far as I understand, IBM is investigating how to develop a cloud storage that can be used for future internet data services. Here is a very interesting quote from Dr. Wolfsthal interview:

In principle we are targeting an open specification, open APIs etc. The participation of the SNIA.Europe (this is the European chapter of the Storage Networking Industry Association) will help us promote the open Specifications and standards developed/extended by the project beyond the boundaries of the project.

In 10 days, I will be attending first COFES-Israel forum. COFES is a unique event where Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction Software industry executives can share their view and discuss innovative ideas. Part of the extended forum agenda is visiting Israeli companies and local branches and development offices of international companies located in Israel. We will be visiting IBM Haifa Lab and I hope to learn more.

Open Cloud
We need to come to the idea of Open Cloud. Focus on open standards that can facilitate data exchange and data openness can be an important factor in customer’s decision to move to cloud solutions. The potential winners will be companies investing in open platforms and not lock-in their customers in proprietary PLM backbones. Will PLM on the cloud initiative is the next mouse-trap for customers similar to what CAD format was last 20 years? Time will show.

What is my conclusion? In my view, the question of openness on the cloud is an unread chapter. Cloud lock-in can be even more dangerous than file format or data backbone lock-in. Important.

Best, Oleg


CAD: From Files to Database and Cloud…

November 17, 2010

I had a chance to read Matt Lombard’s – What if you CAD data were in a database? The discussion around this post made me think more about CAD data organizations, CAD-PDM development, new technologies and some trends such as cloud and noSQL. The initial triggers for the conversations came from some new products, releases and announcements by CAD/PLM vendors over the past years. Autodesk, Dassault and SolidWorks were first to push “cloud race” start button. So, the question about what will happen with one of the biggest assets in manufacturing – CAD data, getting more and more priorities in discussions. The introduction of Dassault V6 put an additional priority. DS made their decision to bundle CATIA and ENOVIA V6 database. By doing so, Dassault opens a new round in the development of CAD-PDM dependencies.

Files, Desktop, Cloud

One of the most fundamental abstraction computer software holds for almost 4 decades is the abstraction of a computer file. Combined with desktop metaphor, developed by Windows and Mac software, it used by the majority of users today. During the last ten years, the internet development created some ideas for how post-desktop world may look like. It is still a big question if all “beyond desktop” stories can make a reality. There is a great read about a future of post-desktop world, I can recommend you – Design Integrated Digital Work Environment. At the same time, the simplicity of “file-based” metaphor and large amount of existing application and CAD data can make vendors to duplicate this abstraction level on the cloud. Remember – simplicity always wins!

CAD+PDM=No Files?

CAD was a first tool that went to mainstream in manufacturing organizations. Obviously, CAD application, as a desktop tool started to work with file. Later, the issue of controlling files and managing of CAD data came into the game. PDM served needs of the customers to organize CAD data storage. PDM can remove the need of file management. I just discussed this topic on my blog few days ago – Why do we struggle with file names in PDM/PLM?However, at the same time, the complexity of CAD/PDM interfaces and implementation cost slowed down distribution of PDM tools. The latest trend I discovered is that PDM interfaces have a tendency to be standardized by CAD manufacturers. The next expected step in this direction is to make PDM a standard functionality of CAD system. The real showstopper in this direction is a complexity. Many of the users today are continuing using CAD tools and see PDM as something that only makes their work more complicated. The future step in achievement of simplicity is to bind PDM into CAD and make them inseparable. There are advantages and disadvantages. It can simplify the tool and user interface. At the same time, usage of multiple CAD systems and other customer’s reality are stopping customers from implementing these strategies.

Technological Trends

There are few interesting trends I want to mention. Last ten years of the internet introduced additional technologies in the data management space. Relational databases are still the data management mainstream. However, thinking about noSQL solutions, graph databases, proprietary data stores like Google Big Table, Open Source solutions and others, created some opportunity to change “SQL-only” paradigm used by PDM/PLM systems. I can see two most important parameters that will drive cloud-based-data technologies. Scale and Cost of Change. “File” is a well-understood user paradigm and companies can continue to use it even when the cloud will use different storage technologies.

Vendors

What happens on the side of vendors? I think, CAD/PLM vendors started to watch space more closely. Autodesk experimented with cloud technologies and introduced few products (including acquisition of Israel-based Visual Tao). Dassault announced about their plans to bring V6 platform to the cloud.

Data Lock-in

Even if the cloud-y future looks very promising, the question of data lock-in is an important and requires special attention. There are few issues related to the lock-in. As soon as you have your CAD data in files, you physically own it. So, even if you migrate to another CAD system, it is up to you (and translation tools, of course) to move it to another system. However, when you need to pull your data from cloud it can be different. For example, try to pull your emails from Gmail. Google watches very carefully large data volume migrations. We don’t know yet what path CAD companies will choose in their decision to move your CAD data on the cloud. What if you will be licensing your traffic volume? C’mon… It can be just crazy.

What is my conclusion? File-paradigm was born as a technology. However, for the moment, it is just a matter of usability and portability. The internet creates new paradigms that will proliferate into engineering system space. The dilemma to store CAD data in a file vs. database will become an issue of technology. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

[categories CAD, Cloud, Database, Files, Dassault, Autodesk]


Free CAD File Conversion In The Cloud?

July 9, 2010

The problem of CAD file conversion in old and has never been easy. Engineers are working in multiple CAD systems and conversion is a real problem. Quite many companies are in business of CAD conversion. The policy and practice of CAD vendors with regards to their ability to open/save competitor’s files are different. The person who needs to solve this problem is either engineer in a small company or CAD manager or IT in a bigger one. What if… we can find a solution for this problem by leveraging internet scale and cloud availability?

I found an interesting web site http://www.online-convert.com/. The idea behind is pretty simple – you have your file to convert, and you can use services. I found it quite useful for myself.


I tried to Google “CAD File Conversion service online” and wasn’t able to find any similar online service for CAD data. I know, many companies have different solutions and services that either provide you with conversion service or selling a translation software. Is it a time to think how to convert it into an online service? I can think about several monetizing strategies of this service. It sounds simple and viable. What do you think about that? Do you know somebody who tried to accomplish it in the past?

Best, Oleg

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How PLM Can Catch Up Cloud 2?

July 2, 2010

I have been discussing Cloud-related topics on PLM Think Tank actively since last year. I think, the term is hugely overloaded, I can see horizons where cloud becomes a kind of reality for engineering and manufacturing software. This is still not much real, up and running solutions. However, there is a constant stream of attention, awareness and trials that is coming from multiple providers in CAD/PLM space.

So, Cloud is coming and this is a perfect time to talk about… Cloud 2. It sounds crazy… huh? No, I don’t think so. On September 23, Salesforce.com released Salesforce.com Chatter. Mark Benioff and the team presented his vision of Cloud 2 on their conference couple of a month ago. I had chance to get some materials and videos about that reviewed during this week. It made me to think about some interesting behaviors and characteristics Salesforce’s Cloud 2 definition in the context of Product Lifecycle Management.

If you have time, take yourself on the following two videos, otherwise, proceed to my takeaways below.

Cloud 2: Takeaways

There is a huge shift happens in how we are using devices. The massive increase in notebook and mobility created a structural shift in how people are starting to use the internet. This is going to impact the environment in the offices and other professional zones.

Cost, ease of use, infrastructure, content creation, services are in the past of Cloud 1. The fundamental shift is going towards to the collaborative environment of the future – new devices, real time, social environment.

Thank you Amazon, welcome Facebook! This is another major shift in application behavior. It is worth reading some of Benioff’s posts about Facebook’s imperative.

Here are some of my Cloud-2 thinking about how it impacts PLM.

Organization Is Flat and Real-Timed
This is a major organizational shift that PLM needs to learn. Fewer processes, fewer hierarchies, fewer predefined events. More flexibility, ad-hoc, connections and real-time updates.

Product Data with no boundaries
Data need to be available to be able to collaborate on top of all ad-hoc processes. You cannot lock it down to formats, applications, departments. Company’s strategies on data lock-in and data protection are going to die under the pressure of customers to be able to collaborate and share.

Context, Context, Context…
The next king on the road is a context. To be able to work, contextually and having all what you need for decision making, becomes a key. It will be very interesting to see how to bring a new contextual formula to engineers in the organization.

What is my conclusion today? Cloud 2 is coming. Regardless on our agreement and disagreement on names, we are going to see a significant shift in the way application will be delivered and used in the social environment. The question is not how to develop social applications. The right question is how to help people to live in a new environment and achieve their operational goals?  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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What Are Demands for “PLM on Demand”?

May 27, 2010

Thanks to David Isenhower  for twittering a very interesting whitepaper from Siemens IT. The name of the paper is Software as a Service (SaaS) with Sample Applications. Yesterday, I was able to get this whitepaper without any registration using this link. One of the sample applications discussed in this paper was Siemens “PLM OnDemand” TeamCenter. I believe, this is a sort of visionary evaluation, since I never heard about existance of “PLM OnDemand” TeamCenter before. However, as it seems to me, author is discussing more demand rather than the available solution and presenting the view of Siemens IT on what should be the future implementation of PLM on demand.

It made me think about how PLM can be delivered on demand. I took the proposed vision of PLM on Demand from the whitepaper mentioned above and compared it to PLM Think Tank visionary proposal.

PLM on Demand: PLM “ready to use” industry solutions.
This is a short vision for Siemen’s IT vision. The white paper defines PLM as one of the conservative areas. Companies are always concerned about investments that need to be done in PLM project. It defines a potential demand for new type of PLM solution.

CIOs may see an opportunity to decrease the overall cost of PLM solution by moving to the cloud as On-Demand Services. “Companies are always less ready and willing to bury valuable developer resources in PLM projects for months. In no other corporate process is the wheel reinvented as often as with PLM, leaving significant potential idle at the same time“. Later, in more detailed way, it explained as “…As a special multi-tenant enabled SaaS solution, PLM on Demand bundles PLM industry solutions with high-quality operation and service in a package with a usage-based price model. Options enable the package to be adapted to individual business requirements. PLM on Demand is not only a new financing and operation model however.  It primarily involves the provisioning of a preconfigured PLM application tailored to the needs of an industry. The “price” for this advantage is that the scope of freedom for individualized customer configurations is limited…“.
In addition, I see the mention that PLM solution needs to have a specific industry orientation: “…the solution offered must also actually cover the typical business requirements of the sector. This depends significantly on the sector and process know-how of the provider…“.

Alternative: PLM Marketplace On Demand
Since, I’m taking a role of “Devil Advocate” on PLM Think Tank, I’d like to introduce an alternative version of how to get into Product Lifecycle Management solution on demand. I have to say that I share Siemens’ vision about demand for low TCO solution that may solve problems of manufacturers. However, I see the future in a different direction. The way the solution can be developed will be as following:

Cloud Based Data Storage
The economy of scale can propose a more efficient solutions to store and manage data online. Design, Bill of Materials and other data can be stored on cloud and easy distributed to customers. When typical corporate email storage varies between 500MB to 1TB, cloud can offer enough data to accumulate product and manufacturing information. Just compare it to 8-10GB of Google Mail storage. I believe very few companies will build new data centers in 2010s, so to move data into the cloud will become more natural.

Application Market Place
One size doesn’t fit all. I believe manufacturing represents a special kind of “long tail” and requires a granular set of solutions to solve their problems. If I’m looking on marketplaces proposed by Saleforce.com, new solution places developed Zoho and vision of Google Market Place, I can see it as a potential way to develop on demand services for manufacturers.

What is my conclusion? The PLM story on demand is still not discovered. I think, Siemens IT made an interesting try to present a potential for PLM on demand. It can be a choice for a big company. However, in this case, I don’t see how it will be different from delivery on premise solutions we have today. I’m looking forward to your comments and thoughts.

Best, Oleg

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PLMosaur, Traditional PLM and SaaS Newbies

May 14, 2010

I think cloud / SaaS option for PLM can become a reality earlier than expected. Listening to customers, vendors as well as reading all news and buzz stream, I can definitely see a changing trend with regards to cloud based solutions. There is an increased trend of discussion about possible PLM scenarios to introduce a cloud based and SaaS solutions. I can recommend to read the following posts from Jim Brown blog – Cloud and Multi-touch CAD/PLM: Engineer’s Nightmare , Josh Mings’ SolidSmack about SolidWorks on the Cloud. In addition, you can take a look on a very interesting presentation about Cloud/SaaS and PLM strategy by Tata Consultancy Services from PDT Europe last year. You can download slides from this location and, dispite “the confidential note”, these slides contain some excellent thoughts about PLM SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings.

Cloud and PLMosaurs
In my view, existing PLM vendors are facing significant disruption from the side of agile and lean vision of PLM/SaaS. Why I’m saying a vision? Because, realistically, I don’t see a significant presence of SaaS / Cloud based offering on the market. It seems to me, existing vendors have hard time to make solutions co-exist (i.e. PTC/IBM or Oracle Agile). The issue of security is a nuclear weapon that on premise vendors put in front of the customers when a discussion about moving to SaaS becomes really hot. As part of this discussion, the story of private cloud comes up, and I can see a tendency of PLM providers to think about moving existing PLM solutions hosted by public or private clouds. What will happen to existing PLMs? Is there a possibility for existing PLMs to survive and successfully squeeze into a cloud, or they will become PLMosaurs? This is a very good question, and I think, we’ll experience multiple trials of existing PLM solutions jumping on the cloud soon.

Lightweight and Granular
Life on cloud is not as easy, and if I’m looking on the experience of Salesforce.com, PLM vendors need to think twice before moving current product offering on the cloud. I’d recommend an excellent reading Behind The Cloud by Marc Benioff. Current monolithic architectures may have potential problems and will require re-engineering. Cloud will require a different content creation and application granularity techniques. Current solutions have a potential to re-use expertise and leveraging existing customer base, but this is going to be a challenging path.

PLM SaaS Newbies
There is a small presence of new companies in this space. PLM+ made a splash last year by their announcement, Vuuch is another interesting solution that can pretend on some of the space covered today by existing PLM products. I was reading Jim Brown’s write up about the future of engineering software strategies. He mentioned fewer new entrances and, at the same time, stated that “to innovate in a garage” is much easier than doing the same in a big company.

What is my conclusion? It seems to me PLM companies need to think how to ramp up with SaaS solutions. My concern is that hosting current product offerings as a SaaS by moving them to the cloud is one possible strategy, and it will be realized by PLM mindshare leaders soon. There are some advantages together with some disadvantages and a danger to end up moving all existing PLM problems on the cloud. I think, PLM needs to find an alternative way to solve manufacturing problems by providing granular SaaS solutions. This is the time to learn from the past experience of Arena, PTC/IBM and other pioneers of SaaS PLM offering and think about the future.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

Pic by lleugh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lleugh/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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6 Questions About Your Future Cloud CAD/PLM

April 16, 2010

Cloud is trending topic these days. During the last few months we had chance to see quite many examples of CAD/PLM vendors starting to speak about cloud computing, cloud applications and services. Autodesk, SolidWorks made a cloud related statements and announcements on their past user conferences. Large infrastructure providers are promoting different type of “cloud paradigms” such as “private”, “public”, “applications” and other clouds. In addition, I need to mention companies that are doing software OnDemand (such as Arena PLM, PTC, IBM) in the PLM field and basically saying “cloud” and “OnDemand” is about the same.

The cloud-related presentations are not always simple to understand. It is hard to predict how today’s desktop CAD application will move to the new “cloud” paradigm or how rich database oriented apps will start to provide cloud services. So, I decided to outline set of questions, that I think, every customer can ask about cloud apps when talking with potential cloud apps provider.

Security
This is the primary concern for most of users today. For some reasons people feel very secured when  data is located on your hard drive as a bunch of CAD and Excel files. However, what happens when you move this data on the cloud? In some cases, and it can be a surprise to you, the cloud solution will be more secured. You can ask you potential vendors how a cloud solution can prevent massive copy of the information out of cloud location? CAD/PLM data is normally very large. Vendor can increase the ability to secure data, for example, by recognizing significant data movement in/out cloud account with patterns different from normals.

Access and Device Support
This is a very important question, in my view. One of the biggest advantages of cloud apps is the ability to use it on any device – desktop, laptop, mobile, etc. So, don’t forget to ask if a cloud solution is supporting relevant mobile platforms as well as newcomer’s devices such as Apple’s iPad. It will allow you to make your engineering stuff visible to your bosses on their cool iPhones and other new devices.

Customization and API
This is one of the key questions. PLM software needs to be flexible. You need to be sure, that it is not only out-of-box product you cannot change, but also customizable service you can configure, combine with our services in your company, etc. Good example is to review all information related to Force.com platform provided by Salesforce.com as an example of customization capabilities. Another option, to see how customization capabilities are compatible with programming cloud solutions such as Microsoft Azure or Google can provide.

Backup, Upgrade and Compatibility
Cloud applications are different from what you are familiar on your desktop. This also can be not similar even to client-server paradigms. You need to think how you secure your future for the long term. Important aspect here is a backup, so you can be able to extract and keep your information in the safe place. It is not less important story of upgrades and compatibility between different versions of software. You need to know what is your provider policy with regards to data compatibility and customization compatibility. These are not simple questions for cloud/SaaS based software providers.  The solution here is hard, in my view.

Application Cost
One of the advantages of cloud/SaaS software is a low entrance barrier. You can start doing business using application subscription. However, you need to be prepared with questions about how much will cost you to increase a number of people that can access application and also, how much will cost storage capacity? When the first question is trivial, second one may be not so simple. You will need to estimate a scale of the data you are going to manage using this app and make appropriated cost estimation.

Vendor Risk Assessment
You need to make an assessment of your vendor. In the early days, the development cost of enterprise software was pretty high. So, company making enterprise business, in most cases, considered as a solid and financially backed. This is not true nowadays. The development cost of cloud/web apps dropped significantly and not requires significant investment. So, you need to check what is the chance your future PLM cloud provider will go out of business.

These are just my thoughts… I’m sure this list is not complete. It will be interesting to hear what do you think? What concerns and issues do you have when thinking how to migrate to your next solution on cloud? What are your questions? Where do you see problems and what advantages do think cloud apps will bring you?

Best, Oleg

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