PLM, SharePoint and Future Virtualization

February 11, 2011

Today everything can be virtualized. If you think about your dedicated IT environment, proprietary or public cloud, the ability to virtualize environment can be tremendously important. In one of my previous posts about virutalization I shared my thoughts about why virutal technologies are important. I talked about data, application and platform virtualization. Navigate your browser on this link to read about PLM and Virtualization Technologies. In my earlier blog – PLM Cloud: Dedicated, Private, Public, I’m discussing what is the role of virtualization in successful cloud development.

SharePoint Virtualization

If you are thinking how to involve SharePoint into your existing or future PLM implementation, you can find the following information useful. I was looking on the SharePoint episode Setting Up a SharePoint Developer Virtual Machine and find the video, particularly interesting. The focus of the system is a development environment, but the same method can work with some changes for other users as well.  Here is an interesting quote:

The Information Worker virtual machine is a Hyper-V based VHD file that has everything you need to build SharePoint solutions already installed. The VM includes Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visual Studio 2010, Exchange 2010, and more. In fact, this is the VM that we use for all of the SharePoint and Office training and Hands-On Labs on Channel 9.

PLM and SharePoint Virtualization

It is interesting how PLM virtualization can be combined with SharePoint virtualization. PTC put a significant effort in the development of SharePoint dependent PLM product. I never heard about Windchill Product Point virtualization together with SharePoint, but it seems to me as a something that can simplify deployment for many customers.

What is my conclusion? We are going to see more examples of successful virtualization. I can see numerous companies are trying to leverage SharePoint for PLM. To make successful virtualization of these environments can be an interesting strategy to follow. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM, SharePoint and Migration Madness

November 29, 2010

I just learned that SharePoint migration projects require user’s involvement to be really successful. Navigate your browser to the following link and read – “When and How to Include End Users in SharePoint Migration Planning“. This story reminded me all stories I’ve heard in my life about PLM migrations. The following passage is interesting:

The problem with this view is that your end users know their requirements, essential business processes, and data better than you do. Input from the staff and managers who are responsible for the artifacts managed within SharePoint is a critical factor for a successful migration.

The story of migration between different PLM systems is complicated. Last week we’ve seen lots of buzzes and publications about Daimler’s decision to switch PLM systems used worldwide. I believe, the problem of the migration is valid not only for big OEMs, but also for smaller companies. What caught my attention is the fact SharePoint was pointed by Microsoft as the universal hummer to solve all possible and impossible data management and collaboration problems in a manufacturing organization of all sizes. Nope. From what I learned SharePoint is sharing the same enterprise software and PLM problems related to software upgrades and migrations. I’d be interested to learn how customers are handling migrations between different SharePoint point versions, which include dependent PLM solutions.

What is my conclusion? SharePoint is Microsoft’s heavy weapon to solve enterprise problems. However, I see more and more examples of SharePoint having the same weakness points as PLM and other enterprise software – dependencies on services, complicated customization and need to maintain complicated migrations. Now it is a time to check your PLM/Sharepoint options…

Best, Oleg

[categories Daily PLM Think Tank, Microsoft]

PLM and SharePoint: Business Together?

November 20, 2010

I want to learn more about Microsoft’s strategies these days. The “big PC” is preparing to become the biggest supplier of enterprise software Office boxes and Office servers. Microsoft is not exciting these days. However, they are making huge money by selling software to enterprise manufacturing. The majority of manufacturing companies are running Windows. Windows 7 release seems to me fixed Vista bugs and customer are buying Windows 7 and Office. Google might be disturbing Microsoft when they announce the next big organization migrating to Google Apps, but companies sits on Microsoft’s technologies, for the moment. SharePoint is one of the most significant elements in Microsoft’s enterprise vision. Almost two years ago, I wrote – SharePoint PLM Paradox. Today I want to revise what I wrote with new thoughts and facts.

SharePoint as a Service Vehicle

In my view, Microsoft put a lot of effort in establishing mainstream vision behind SharePoint. One of the most successful elements of this effort was what I call – “enterprise freemium model”. It was implemented by introducing WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) product. WSS license embedded into Windows Server licenses enabled Microsoft to use it as a trojan horse. It allowed to Microsoft to establish a presence in the organization. It was an easy decision for IT and department people – SharePoint is free, let’s ride these free collaboration services. However, after initial excitement, people came to the point that lots of SharePoint promises can be realized by buying SharePoint enterprise licenses and bringing consultants and service companies to the site. As I can see today, SharePoint plays a role of an excellent service vehicle for Microsoft’s enterprise strategies.

PLM and SharePoint: Flirt or Marriage?

PLM and SharePoint marriage was an interesting opportunity two years ago. Mindshare PLM companies decided to play differently with SharePoint. Siemens PLM established early relationships with SharePoint kid, even before a successful MOSS 2007 . TeamCenter community is a product UGS pushed to ride on top of SharePoint. I haven’t seen lots of excitement about TeamCenter Communities, but the product was on the market. Dassault was flirting with SharePoint very carefully by establishing a strategy – “customers first”. They tried to to have enough customer implementations before (or instead of) marriage. PTC decided to marry and established a very promising new product line – Windchill Product Point. I’ve been reading Parametric Technologies Analyst meeting highlights by Jay Vleeschhouwer. According to Jay, a ProductPoint 2.0 is one of the important elements in PTC strategy. As far as I listen to PTC execs, ProductPoint and SharePoint strategy plays a significant role in the overall PTC strategy.

Service vs. Free Products

In my view, PLM companies can take two possible decisions in their strategies related to SharePoint. One is to sell products dependent on SharePoint and generate additional service money. Will it play well together? Maybe… I don’t think SharePoint is really needed to increase PLM service revenues, but this interplay with Microsoft sales channels can be a good cooperation. Alternative option is to give away SharePoint-dependent products to establish market share. This can be an interesting and even unpredicted turn. Nowadays, “free” is considered as a future best price and it can generate a new trend.

What is my conclusion? Microsoft is selling lots of SharePoint boxes to manufacturing companies. It is interesting to see how/if PLM companies will be trying to monetize SharePoint presence in the manufacturing companies. Is there future in common PLM SharePoint strategies? This is a question I want to ask PLM companies today. There are few possible answers – (1) We can sell products and services together; (2) We can give away product “for free”, adjusted to SharePoint in order to gain a market share; (3) Nah… We can do it – this is yet another option to sell PLM portfolio. Just my thoughts… Let me know what do you think.

Best, Oleg

PLM and One Big Spreadsheet

May 12, 2010

Everybody in the engineering and manufacturing loves MS Excel. I had chance to write about it multiple times before. You can take a look on few of my previous talks about MS Excel and PLM- Why do I like my PLM Spreadsheets? and PLM Excel Spreadsheets: From Odes to Woes. The reaction of customers on using spreadsheets in PLM is always positive. In my view, there are few aspects why Excel is welcome in the engineering communities- flexibility, granularity and ownership. You can always define what you want, format it in the way you want and what is the most important piece – own it! Nobody will take your Excel file. You can keep it everywhere, you can access it anytime, and you can do with this everything. There is no special licenses, no training needed. However, the biggest disadvantage of such a way is NO collaboration. Yes, you can send your Excels back and forth via email, but this is not what I’d call collaboration in the modern world.

Real Time Collaboration and Spreadsheets
Google and Microsoft are two companies that understand the power of spreadsheets very well. These days both companies are working to take Excel and spreadsheets to the next level of collaboration. You can see recent announcement of last version of Google docs is presenting ability to work collaboratively on Google Docs. Together with new features that closing some of the gaps with MS Excel, you can see Google Spreadsheets as a decent tool to take care of PLM data.

In parallel, coming announcement of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 later this week will introduce new set of the functionality a-la Excel related to data handling in the spreadsheet and collaboration. Microsoft Excel Services is a very interesting technology started in SharePoint 2007 and getting many enhancements in the new version of SharePoint

PLM Big Spreadsheet
I see spreadsheet as a way to innovate in PLM. In the end, if this is the best way to collaborate between people in design, engineering and manufacturing, we can take it as a lowest possible denominator in our PLM applications. I found multiple time during meeting with customers, the capabilities of PDM/PLM products compared with capabilities of Excel or spreadsheets. Think about mapping all PLM data you have to a single big spreadsheet and give it to users.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM needs to shift strategies in achievement of sophisticated features. Low gear… The next PLM sophistication can come from the side of simplicity. Make all requirements, documents, BOMs, manufacturing plans available in Excel-like format and give it to customers. This will be One Big PLM Spreedsheet. I think it will be cool. What is your take on this?

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


COFES 2010, Maieutic Parataxis and PLM Excels

April 20, 2010

I hope you know about my “love and hate” relationships with Excel. I posted many times about how deep Excel integrated into current CAD/PDM/PLM software life. Think about that, for the moment. You are getting Bill of Materials and Design Tables in CAD using Excel, lots of reports, catalogs and other data. There are lots of other reasons too. Just as an example you can take a look on one of my old “Excel” posts – Why Do I like My PLM Excel Spreadsheets?

About few months ago, I found an interesting Microsoft Live Lab product called “Pivot“. I posted about that. You can see my original post via this link. My initial thoughts were about how to try this pivot functionality on the real PLM data to see what is possible to achieve. Fortunately, this blog post got into attention of Simon Floyd from Microsoft, and he made this experiment. Last week at COFES 2010 during Maieutic Parataxis session, Simon presented his experiments. Full presentation from Maieutic Parataxis session will be available later this link. However, you can see some of the slides below.

I think, Pivot concept is an interesting experiment. Excel paradigm is very popular. At the same time, customer demands towards simple and clean user interfaces in PDM/PLM systems are very strong. Pivot can put lights on some potential in more deep exploration of Excel capabilities. Some of the visual representations in Pivot are similar to existing PLM products. Filtering and pivoting functionality is strong and interesting. To get information into Pivot can be challenging in my view.

What is my conclusion? PLM Pivot experiment requires attentions. Usability in PLM systems is a hard problem.Despite all claims mainstream customers are dissatisfied.  I’m very interesting to hear what do you think about this example? As usual, I’m looking forward to your comments.

Best, Oleg


Key Success of SharePoint – What Should PLM Learn?

January 6, 2010

I’ve been thinking about Microsoft SharePoint success in enterprise organizations. For the last few years Microsoft leapfrog in their ability to provide SharePoint-based solutions. I will put below few points that in my view are the foundation of this SharePoint success.

1. Basic solution for share files and portal availability.
2. Initial licenses embedded in Windows Server.
3. It doesn’t require huge upfront implementation and service efforts.

What I can conclude is that most of SharePoint deals were down without huge IT involvement and, of course, CIO approvals. I’m sure that many CIOs even don’t know how many SharePoint instances they have in their organization. The conclusion – no CIO involvement can simplify your solution path to the organization.

Now, I’m thinking back about PLM. For the last half decade, the most important message from businesses and sales I heard about – we need to sell PLM to C-Level. This is so called ERP lesson. This is the way ERP was sold to many organizations. My question today – is it something that PLM need to continue pushing forward? No, I don’t think so. Don’t take me wrong, I don’t see any problem in selling enterprise solutions to CIO in the big organization. However, when you think about mainstream adoption, ability to expand the solution in the organization, to get some end user commitment will be very beneficial.

So, what is my conclusion today?. PLM needs to learn how to play Trojan Horse in the organization and start flying below CIO radars. This is what SharePoint did, and, I think, it was successful. Of course, after implementing such strategy you will be invited to CIO too. However, your position will be different.

Just my thoughts. YMMV.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: Office and SharePoint 2010 public betas now available for download

November 19, 2009

Microsoft finally made available beta versions of Office 2010 and SharePoint 1010 yesterday. So, I finally have an account to try it out. What are the most interesting scenarios to test in my view?

1. Accessing external data using SharePoing 2010 composites.

2. Collaboration with people outside of your organization using Office Web version.

3. Collaborating on Bill of Material data using Excel Services.

4. Using community services.

I had chance to talk about PLM and Office/SharePoint 2010 in my previous posts:

SharePoint 2010 – Is it good for PLM?

SharePoint 2010 Communities and PLM Social Demands

SharePoint 2010 for Collaborative Product Development Applications

Why PLM Need to Learn about SharePoint 2010 Composites?

New Office 2010 features and PLM integration

Office 2010 and PLM On Demand Solutions

Initial prediction – what MS Office 2010 Technologies can bring to PLM?

I’d be interested to collaborate with other people evaluating SharePoint/Office 2010 these days.

Best, Oleg

SharePoint 2010 Communities and PLM Social Demands

October 27, 2009

Picture 14PLM is moving fast towards social computing and social product development. I had chance to share some of my previous thoughts related to social features in PLM  few weeks ago and we had a very good conversation. If you haven’t had chance to be involved, I’d suggest you to take a very brief look on the following posts as well as comments to these posts.

Emerging Social Economies and PLM communities

Social PLM Challenges

PLM Goes Social – Don’t forget your daily job!

Looking back I definitely would like to mention few very visible activities related to PLM and Social Trend: DS announcement of collaboration with Community Platform BlueKiwi, PTC social product development. Don’t miss also small vendors such as Vuuch stepping into this space with Social PLM and Business Communities.

Now, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is coming with some very strong messages related to communities too. As you can see on the  slides, Microsoft put Community as one of the key pillars in their new SharePoint 2010 marketing mantra. With four key areas of experience- social content, social networking, teamwork and groups, SharePoint provide wide spread of potential benefits.

Picture 15
What is behind this? Actually quite many things. Microsoft is taking huge bulk of stuff, some of them are old in SharePoint such as Sites and Workspaces. Some of the features got a face – lift such as blogs, wikis, podcasting tools. Several new features and some of them very impressive released around people-related searches, tagging and social networking. You can see Microsoft’s marketing slide below. What is clear is that SharePoint 2010 is introducing a very significant bundle of tools that will make new SharePoint reminding even more than before “A universal enterprise hammer”.

Picture 17
However, I think, the biggest advantage of SharePoint as a platform is the ability to combine in the single box these multiple capabilities that in the normal situation need to be purchased from the different vendors and combined together.

So, with such background, SharePoint 2010 Social Computing presentation severely hit my mind with SP capabilities around social tools. It’s clear Product Development Activities can be significantly improved by using technologies and techniques developed by social networking tools. Software vendors developing products for manufacturing intensively investing in such features and concepts as communities, voting, the crowd-sourcing, tagging, micro-blogging, wikis and others. So, introducing of such features on popular Microsoft’s platform can be an interesting turn for Product Date/Lifecycle tools to jump over new capabilities. However, on the other side, I see SharePoint 2010 platform capabilities in business collaboration, information and knowledge management as very broad and requiring a very significant additional investment from future customers.

What is my conclusion today? SharePoint 2010 is a new kind of platform enterprises are going to experience in the near future. To see, how these technologies can co-exist without significant overlaps – this is a key for future PLM and SharePoint success. So far, we can wait until SharePoint 2010 BETA next month and expect some interesting new features and implementations.

Best, Oleg

Why PLM Need to Learn about SharePoint 2010 Composites?

October 21, 2009

Picture 5Some technology and infrastructure thinking today coming out of SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Without going to more systematic analyzes what Microsoft presented in future coming SharePoint 2010 version (beta is planned in November and release is next year), I’d like to go straight ahead and talk about very interesting topic, in my view, called SharePoint Composites.

Picture 6
As you can see on the picture above SharePoint composites are fundamental part of overall SharePoint marketing architecture and pretty much focuses on rapid creation of no-code collaborative solution. Looking on that together with the ability to unlock enterprise data, I saidthis is something that sounds very PLMish? I think every PLM solution has a strategic need to collaborate and communicate with various pieces of enterprise data and systems. Bill of Materials in ERP, Customer information in CRM and endless list of various databases and homegrown solutionsthis is the only initial list of enterprise data that we face in every PLM implementation.

So, let’s dig inside and see what Microsoft is planning to offer as part of Composites. The major piece of SharePoint composites is evolution of SharePoint BDC (Business Data Catalog). Back in SharePoint 2007, BDC was created to be able to read data from multiple external sources (Microsoft presents it as LOB- Line of Business Systems) and connects these multiple data sources into SharePoint Lists, Workspaces etc. BDC evolution path in SharePoint 2010 is what calledBCS (Business Connectivity Services). You can take a look on this picture bellow. What is important is that BCS is supporting full CRUD (for non-programming peopleCreate Read Update Delete) framework. So, the application will be able to make full manipulation of data in external systems. This is, of course, depends on technology systems will be connected (SQL or proprietary APIs / Web Services).

Picture 7
So, what is my short conclusion today from initial presentation and review of Microsoft composites and BCS? I think, this framework is an interesting approach SharePoint will use to acquire enterprise data and interplay with enterprise applications. There are two possible scenarios I can figure out for PLM applications with regards to SharePoint Composites:

1. Internal. This option assumes PLM application will be re-using elements of SharePoint composites to get broader system and enterprise data connectivity. This is something that I see logical and should be compliant, in my view, with how Microsoft Composites and BCS will be introduced for companies.

2. External. For this option SharePoint Composite and BCS specifically will assume PLM apps is one of the LOB. So, collaborative scenarios can be built on top of PLM data and interplay with enterprise data and collaborative processes that will come from other systems.

I’m sure, there are much more options and these are only major directions. Good place to see how BCS and Composites will be developed and implemented is to discover and learn everything happens between SharePoint and SAP applications. I’m sure we’ll see interesting scenarios and new types of applications coming out and based on new SharePoint technologies. However, it doesn’t mean it will introduce new conflicts between Microsoft technological frameworks and Enterprise Application vendors frameworks.

Stay tuned on next discussions about SharePoint and related technologies later this week.

Best, Oleg

PLM, Microsoft and Open Source Party

September 18, 2009

Picture 6The following publication drove my attention last week. Microsoft is jumping more and more in this Open Source.

“Now, Microsoft has unveiled an organization it says will help open source work with commercial software organizations – the CodePlex Foundation. Microsoft is also the Foundation’s sole funder, having donated $1m – a number the company will review annually.” CodePlex becomes a very strong place for open source Microsoft related community.

So, is it good or bad for PLM? With only one company (Aras) oriented on PLM and Open Source, PLM is not very friendly to Open Source and to Open Source community. How Open Source can drive PLM change ruling more and more to Open Source. There are few reasons, in my view, that will bring PLM very soon to the kind of Open Source organization:

1. Level of Services in PLM domain. High level of services makes Open Source very attractive. When customer is not focusing on sales process, but just implementing, this is sounds like good sales speech and point to discuss.

2. Huge diversification in customer environment and requirements. Sophisticated engineering and manufacturing processes are complex, in my view, to become OOTB offering. So, another level of flexibility will be needed to make these customers doing what they want.

3. Frustrations with regards to expensive PLM licenses. Today’s perception – PLM is complex and expensive. By  introducing Open Source PLM, you remove sales issue, when selling it for the first time. Customer won’t be requested to pay up-front before seeing results.

So, what is my conclusion. As I said before, Open Source is very interesting direction from many standpoints – technology, business, sales. With Microsoft becoming more active in this space, PLM companies very much oriented on Microsoft, can boost PLM implementation based on Open Source and Microsoft. Microsoft will actively promote open source projects on top of MS infrastructure such as SharePoint etc.  Will codeplex develop a sufficient community is not clear, but definitely changes in OSS landscape were started already.

What is your opinion on this?
Best, Oleg


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