Oracle, Google and Aras’ 226% Growth

August 30, 2010

I read the following article “Oracle v Google: Why?“. I found it as a very deep analysis of the latest Oracle’s bold move against Google. It is hard to predict how this clash will be resolved and who will be a winner and loser or may be both. Read this article and make your opinion. My hunch is that there is a portion of the game related to Open Source. FOSS became stronger over the last years and drove multiple interest from vendors and user communities. Oracle (but not only) kingdom can be definitely impacted by a variety of Open Source initiatives growing in enterprise organizations these days.

In this context, I found a very interesting news came out of Open Source provider Aras:  Aras Momentum Accelerates Driving 226% Sales Growth in First Half 2010. Here is the quote from Aras’s PR: Aras’s strong performance is driven by the continued growth in worldwide adoption of the Aras Innovator suite, and demonstrates mainstream acceptance of the Aras enterprise open source model and advanced PLM technology by Fortune 500 / Forbes Global 2000 companies.

What is my take? Open Source is definitely a long term target in Oracle lawsuit against Google. This is a beginning of the fight against the Open Source. Google is an easy, but intermediate target. My conclusion – important.

Best, Oleg
Freebie. Aras didn’t pay me for this post.


PLM Wood and Open Source Termites?

July 5, 2010

Last week I wrote about PLM and Open Source Big Games. One of my conclusions was that PLM Open Source can become an interesting option in PLM and Enterprise space when it comes as community based development and include the ability to leverage existing Open Source projects  Today, I wanted to come with the example that matches this pattern. SAP is a well known big enterprise outfit that has some stakes in Product Lifecycle Management too. I had chance to read the following article by CMS Wire about CoreMedia Open Source Content Management portal platform for SAP users - CoreMedia Web CMS Readies to Woo SAP Portal Users.

I found this read interesting. SAP Portal developments can be considered as a “dead wood”. SAP has their own portal strategy. In addition, SAP and Microsoft’s partnership brings lots of Microsoft SharePoint stuff in this space as well. However, CoreMedia open content management platform, can be proposed as an open source option to drive some user attention in this space.

The following two quote is very interesting:

Interestingly, many of SAP’s known features — such as collaboration and KM (Knowledge Management) — CoreMedia chose not to support — focusing mainly on the infrastructure/delivery capabilities — citing the fact that they wanted to avoid any “dependencies” on those features based on what they heard about SAP not developing those capabilities in the future.

CoreMedia is already doing some personalization and social software features in the Web CMS, but later on the roadmap we should see more of that being done for SAP customers, so that they can use inherent to SAP transactional data (from CRM, ERP, etc.) to enhance their existing online engagement offerings. Transactional data managed by SAP is becoming more valuable on the web, as organizations are looking to drive the web more dynamically and to have a more personalized website. Hence, more attention to CoreMedia’s Content Application Engine (CAE) in the second phase.

PLM Open Source Platform?

CoreMedia example made me think about what can be a potential open source platform for PLM? All available PLM platforms in the market today are proprietary platforms developed in the last two decades. The cost of any of these platforms is high. To develop a new PLM Platform can be mission impossible. However, you can think about potential injection of open source components into these platforms. This can be a gradual process that will make a transformation into PLM platforms towards additional openness and significant cost saving for customers. The focus of such injection can be around infrastructure and not around end user modules. It will allow to lay a foundation for the future community development and contribution.

What is my conclusion? PLM. Wooden Platforms. Open Source Infrastructure Termites. It can be an interesting option to disrupt existing PLM software. Remember Jim Brown’s Who Will Disrupt Entrenched PLM Vendors? The Open Source option was there too… The potential benefits are clear to me – cost, openness, community benefits. There is a danger too. The complexity of PLM projects is very high. A significant level of integration requires to make PLM projects successful. Will Open Source Platform be capable of handle it?  What do you think about that? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM and Open Source Big Games

July 1, 2010

I have been paying more attention to open source last time. What I wanted to analyze is how Open Source will influence future enterprise software landscape and what does it means for Product Lifecycle Management software. Open Source never been on the simple track in the enterprise organization. So, I’d like to put some of my analyzes towards trying to understand if future of PLM can gain some competitive analyzes from Open Source projects.

Big Player and Changes

The original open source invention contradicted lots of established rules in the enterprise software, mixed usage of FOSS software and components faced significant legal challenges. In addition, the valuation and other business characteristics of open source companies challenged lots of analysts and raised many discussions. However, I can see some significant changes for the last couple of years. Growth as community based development, FOOS started to leverage alternative sources of revenues. You can take a look on the following article by CNET from the last year, Open-source M&A: The scorecard to date” mentioned some interesting numbers related to OSS dividends.

Another article: How many billions is open-source software worth? by Computerworld also last year  estimations and some estimation numbers about OSS industry worth. What is about $387B? Sounds big? This is the number BlackDuck Software, Boston based firm came up. The following part is especially interesting:

That’s the number that Black Duck Software came up with. Black Duck isn’t an open-source ISV (independent software vendor). The Boston area company started as an IP (intellectual property) risk management and mitigation company, but has since grown into an open-source legal management firm. Since Black Duck was founded in 2002, the company has been tracking all known open source on the Internet According to their research, there are over 200,000 open-source projects representing over 4.9 billion lines of code. To create that code from scratch, Black Duck estimates that “reproducing this OSS would cost $387 billion and would take 2.1 million people-years of development.”

Open Monetizing Source Trajectories

Another interesting article with a catch’y name: “Has Oracle Been a Disaster for Sun’s Open Source?” Worth read. I recommend you to have a look. Oracle becomes a provide of Open Source Software. However, the Open Source trajectories inside of Oracle are not very happy. It is still not clear how OSS software will be integrated, developed and promoted by such a business community as Oracle.

The problem is that Oracle is naturally trying to optimize its acquisition of Sun for its own shareholders, but seems to have forgotten that there are other stakeholders too: the larger open source communities that have formed around the code. That may make sense in the short term, but is undoubtedly fatal in the long term: free software cannot continue to grow and thrive without an engaged community.

In addition, I can see additional trials to monetize existing open source projects. I got an invitation to the conference “Lucene Revolution” by company name Lucid Imagination that will happen in Boston in October this year. Lucene is a well known Open Source search platform. Lucid is trying to play a “Red Hat” search game, which can be an interesting monetizing strategy for established OSS brands.

PLM and Open Source

If we’ll take a look on PLM Open Source land, we can see Aras is pushing OSS trends forward. I think, it is getting more traction and interests. However, I see Aras’ activity as somewhat not balanced in the following two areas: 1/ development of the communities; 2/ leveraging existing OSS software stack. Probably, Aras’ roots and relationships with Microsoft put some restriction on their OSS-related positioning. Despite these two concerns, I can see a significant interest from customer side to what Aras is doing in Open Source PLM.

What is my conclusion? Customers in engineering and manufacturing organizations are looking for changes in enterprise software. FOSS is one of the potential directions to make it happen. Usage of OSS can save cost and therefore, provide benefits to end users. With lower cost base, enterprise vendors can be innovative in the development of new business models which, in the end, also benefit end users. As I had chance to mention before, community development, cross-usage of existing OSS platforms and tools can be very interesting.

Best, Oleg


Open Source PLM Factoids

June 30, 2010

I’d like to continue discussion of Openness and PLM (see my yesterday post – Closed Thoughts about PLM Openness) with the discussion about Open Source. Open Source is one of the questions that always raised last time when it comes to the discussion of Openness. I got to read an interesting article – Being acquired is the best thing for a FOSS project from Network World Blog. They presented an interesting perspective on a particular niche of Open Source. The following numbers caught my interest – Sourceforge hosts about 7,000 security projects. Daniel says, “From these 7K only 10% will survive; they seem to die quickly.”  I made me think what is the right formula for Open Source in PLM?  Yoann from Prodeos wrote in his post (in French)  PLM=PLM = BPM + ECM + PM + CMII + … (if standards == true). His idea of various component syndication seems to me interesting (I just hope my French was good enough to understand it with the help of Google Translate). All these together made me think about the following aspects of PLM and Open Source:

Open Source Openness
This one is an important. Open Source imposes openness and democracy. I think, a portion of openness will be a good addition to today’s PLM business. Open Source can provide a different flavor of PLM implementations. However, the discussion about what means Open Source and how it will go beyond just providing free licenses.

Open Source Communities
This element is a integral portion of any open source projects. This is what I call “a life indicator” for the open source. If you have a working community, an open source project will have a future. Therefore, wiliness of people to be involved is important. Multiple projects can bring even more interest into development of communities. More projects in this space can create a viral effect on the future development of Open Source options for PLM.

Founding Companies
I think, commercial companies play a significant role in the development of Open Source projects. We all know about the role of IBM, HP and others. I think, role of founding companies is important. However, Open Source needs to be a “development community” project first and only after to become part of the commercial company. Aras, as a company associated with PLM and Open Source, can play an interesting role in this space.

Open Source Enterprise
This is not a simple question. In my view, Open Source was established mostly as “development projects”. Enterprise is different from many aspects- business, support, customer orientation. If a community of people involved into the open source PLM projects will grow, I can see two potential routes for PLM Open Source to enterprises: 1/IT development project; 2/Commercialization by a particular software vendor.

What is my conclusion? Open Source and PLM are still “Terra incognita“. We can see and hear lots of opinions, numbers, prospects. The key question today is how to develop open source community projects in PLM and how to make them connected to other open source projects related to enterprise software. A potenal candidate can be, for example, Drupal. This can be an interesting path for Open Source in the enterprise. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Scaling Options

May 24, 2010

I’ve been thinking about how possible to change PLM development trajectory and scale PLM adoption in the market. Thinking about other industries, I came to the conclusion that many of them are locked to scale because of two main reasons: 1/ it was too complex; 2/it was too expensive. It was with internet, mobile, cars, airplanes… Think about that, as soon as was possible to make it simple and cheap we got a different trajectory of scale and adoption. On the other side, scaling up industry can really make industry rich.

PLM Complexity
This topic is always trending in all conversations about PLM. Many people are arguing- PLM is too complex, PLM created a complication that prevents people from using concepts, people dislike PLM systems because they are not useful and hard to implement…. On the other side, when people can see the results of PLM implementation, they are amazed to discover how PLM implementation changed the way organization can design, manufacture, operate and, in the end, make money. So, a complexity is a number one problem that needs to be resolved in PLM. To make things simple is not a simple task. When you will watch a very old Apple’s commercials, you may understand that “thinking simple” is a long and extensive process.

PLM Cost
This is another side of PLM story. The initial PLM ideas and implementations came from the large companies. They have been unique, tailored to the specific needs and… expensive. The cost wasn’t a big issue for these companies back 15 years ago. Today, manufacturing is a different. Manufacturing is optimized. The amount of small suppliers are growing. The smaller suppliers need to optimize the way they can work. To use expensive systems probably won’t be an option to them. How we can make systems cheaper? Open source can be one of the options. I had chance to read the following article in Information Weeks couple of days ago. A very interesting example of scaling down in the cost related to SimpleGeo geographical provider:

It’s running a 50-node cluster, which spans three data centers on Amazon’s EC2 service for about $10,000 a month, says CTO Joe Stump, who previously used Cassandra at Digg. By contrast, MySQL premium support would cost about $5,000 per year per node, or $250,000 per year–more than double the Cassandra setup, Stump says, and Microsoft SQL Server can cost as much as $55,000 per processor per year.

What is my conclusion today? Scale is a hard topic. If something doesn’t work, it will be very hard to scale it up. PLM ideas are awesome. People are getting it pretty well. You can control product lifecycle, connect processes, optimize development and manufacturing, speed up innovation. However, here is the problem. PLM business doesn’t work to scale today. The two main PLM killers , in my view, are complexity and cost. We need to think how to unlock it for manufacturers to make PLM ideas to scale. What is your view on this?

Best, Oleg

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Out-Of-The-Box PLM and Open Source Option

May 21, 2010

I had chance to read the story “Is PLM software OOTB Functionality a Red Herring?” by Marc Lind on Aras’ community website. I definitely can see a growing amount of debates around PLM Out-the-box story or how software vendors call it very often – Best Practices.

History
Do you remember the name “turnkey solution”? This is one of the previous names for out-of-the-box. Welcome! You can buy a system, turn a key on, and you are done :)… The definition of “turnkey” solution was different and changed within a time. In the beginning, it was about how to not to “rebuild” the system for every customer. Then it moved to installation option that not required 10 people work for few months to install and configured system. Finally, it comes to the point when “a turnkey” started to focus on engineering and business problems.

Engineering Foundation of Out-of-the-Box (OOTB)
The invention of OOTB system as a system that can solve engineering and business problems had very good roots. A majority of engineering and manufactures software companies were started by engineers. Engineers tried to solve problems for engineers and definitely could find a solution. After the problem was solved for more than one customer, the obvious question was how to scale up?  There are few possible ways to move forward – to create a configurable and modular system or to open system to be modified and adjusted by customers themselves and partners. Vendors tried to solve both. The first seems to be complicated. The second was expensive and long in time.

Marketing Damage
At the time engineering tried to solve a problem of how to configure systems to fit needs of different customers, marketing came with a nice proposal to re-sell existing customer implementation packed as best practice solutions . Basically, it was a good idea – why not to re-use existing experience with customers? The implementations done by many of them represented state of the art and considered as best in their class. However, here the problem- engineers are not running their shops in the say ways. They strongly believe in their uniqueness and specific manufacturing practices. The marketing story becomes a story of long implementation cycles after deals were closed and money paid.

Open Source Option?
There are two important aspects of open source that can give a potential chance to PLM open source to grow in a current situation. The first is emotional – you are not paying upfront, and you pay for maintenance and support. Even if everybody understood that the same or comparable amount of money can be paid in different ways, it creates a social empathy to the solution. Second one is real – you can have a wider distribution of software. By doing so, open source creates the situation where the effect of scale can be significant and crowd sourcing will become a real option.  So, I see community building as a top factor that can make PLM open source real. In the case engineers will start to collaborate, it can create a potential network effect.

What is my conclusion? Selling Enterprise Software is a hard job these days. People stopped buying marketing stories. They need software to solve problems today and not tomorrow. Out-of-the-box started as an initiative to compensate long, complicated and expensive implementation cycle. The fundamental idea was simple- you pay more, but you can take a system and work now. One of the reasons it wasn’t successful is in the nature of manufacturing organization. If you talk to PLM vendors, they will give you PDM CAD document management as an example of the successful out-of-the-box functionality. However, when it is probably easy to agree on check-in/check-out/release commands, it won’t be so easy to produce “the universal change management module”. In my view, PLM needs to run a recovery mode now to get back from spectacular marketing presentation to nuts and bolts of engineering and manufacturing implementations.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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PLM Open Source Tradeoff

April 30, 2010

I’m continuing to hear comments about importance of Open Source for PLM. It comes to me multiple ways during the last year, and I have to say that the overall knowledge about what means Open Source in various aspects related to software code, different type of licenses, customer communities. I think that PLM Open Source industry conversion is growing. Today, I want to figure out what is a potential tradeoff in Open Source PLM implementation. In my view, if a customer is thinking about Open Source, he needs to make a potential tradeoff in the context of the following three aspects: Business, Community and Technology.

The Business
Every manufacturing company is thinking in terms of their core business. What are the areas of innovation and how they can develop their market competitive advantages? Product Lifecycle Management has a direct impact on the development of company competence via providing services and tools to develop products, provide service and optimize engineering and manufacturing processes. For many years, making business with IBM was considered as a safe business decision. As soon as you put your core development processes into IBM safe deposit box, you will be ok. In my view, it is a still right way. And if you company is ready to pay a premium price for making business with IBM-like providers you can do it. However, you will need to play according to the IBM (and other rules). In every business, you have multiple risks and to choose how to manage them is your own choice. Your tradeoff with Open Source PLM is to choose a more vulnerable solution. You are taking definite risk stepping into this pathway. Even so, you can find appropriated options to compensate your risks by hiring more knowledgeable team or paying subscriptions. This is your choice, of course.

The Community
This is a very interesting aspect. In general you can consider a community contribution as a tax. Do you like taxes? This is a very good question :). My answer is – it is depending on how it will be used. If I think about old days standard creation communities presented sponsored by vendor and targeted to produce sort of a common denominator between different vendors. Nowadays, we can see a significant change in the way community can be created, valued and in the end monetized. To be a member of a community today means to have the most trusted relationships and information about what is going on. The common opinion of community members (vendors, customers, industry professionals) can have a different level of trust in comparison to the opinion of a single vendor. When you work with a specific vendor you can think in terms of committed relationships. This is an important for business and provide definite value. However, you can exchange this value and have a community opinion about what is trusted way to implement PLM that will be proven by community members. You won’t be able to convert to the legal terms, so it will be your decision in the end. So, this is another tradeoff, in my view.

The Technology
I had chance to write some topics about innovation and PLM technologies before. The technology is certainly matters, and you want to use the best one to help you to develop innovative products. I think all PLM vendors these days have an impressive technological development. You can choose the best one for you and use it. The importance of this option should not be underestimated. This is still the most straightforward way to use technological development in production. On the contrary, I can say that technology innovation of well established software companies is following a particular pattern driven by multiple customer, business and product commitments. So, you are paying tax to have a committed technological roadmap. However, what if you want to have a risky business decision to drop this commitment in exchange of being involved into the community of technological and product innovation. This is a tradeoff. However, it may pay off by getting an access to something that well balanced and diversified due to community involvement.

Here is my simple take on PLM open source. I’m trying to think about industry and not about a specific vendor. Most of the debates I’m hearing about PLM open source is too focusing on a comparison between PLM software that coming from mindshare PLM leaders and Aras PLM. I think this is a wrong focus. In my view, we need to be more focused on customers and benefits of the industry. I certainly see lots of customers that will not have benefits from open source. However, I see many customers that can consider open source tradeoff as an appropriated way and will try to get a value from open source and an ability to build a wide community of customers related to PLM implementations.

Just my thoughts and the decision is yours.
Best, Oleg


How To Fix PLM Industry Dissatisfaction?

March 26, 2010

COFES 2010 is just around the corner, and I had chance to discuss with Brad Holtz of Cyon Research the potential topics to think and discuss towards the event. We touched the issue of the top PLM industry problems and how it comes to the discussion on Daily PLM Think Tank. So, this morning, I made my first BLOG “Better listening on Google” research and shout “PLM dissatisfaction” search. The article with a complete match to my criteria came in the beginning – “Why is Industry Dissatisfied with PLM?” by Frank Lillehagen, and I decided to make a deep dive into this article and to compare it to my thoughts related to the current PLM industry problems.

The main introductory made by Frank is that PLM actually was too late to the “enterprise app dinner” and was built on top of either CAD, CRM, ERP or even PDM. It was interesting to me, since I have never seen PLM system built on top of CRM. However, I think the main point was clear – in the family of the enterprise engineering apps, PLM appears to be a guilty child who needs to explain his rights to exist and prove all the time his organizational and technological ROI. Later in the article divided into sections: 1- What is missed?, 2- PLM capabilities needed, 3- Towards Product Knowledge Architecture, 4- Where do we go from here? Each section presented from 10 to 20 bullets with lists of issues that need to be done or missed. Actually, in my view those are expected to be a single list of issues, but they were presented in different ways.  I made some write up based on the topics that got my special attention:

A PLM architecture should create visual collaborative scenes for proactive behavior and learning-by-doing, enhancing human capabilities and creativity, creating the real-time enterprise, and transforming industrial computing to practical services and work processes.

We need to combine the complementary strengths of computers and humans, in handling and managing data categories, object classes and product families, to provide methods for life-cycle management and reuse.

Huh… It is complex. I must admit, I personally failed to come to the conclusion about the topic after reading this article multiple times. I tried to analyze the list of 20 PLM requirements needs presented by author. However, issue presented there were either completely broad like “Transform IT systems development and industrial computing” or “Support holistic enterprise design of projects, products and work environments” or absolutely theoretical like “Redefine design theory to exploit role-oriented knowledge architectures and product families“.

I almost gave up, nevertheless, the topic of industry dissatisfaction kept me in the focus. Actually, I felt my complete dissatisfaction by my inability to write the conclusion and decided to put my top 3 priority list that can improve the level of PLM Industry Satisfaction. Here we go:

Clean the PLM Language from buzzwords and broad statements. In my view, lack of clarity is absolutely needed as a first step. Customers and industry audience needs to get feeling of simplicity and clarity in definition and implementation.

Open Data Foundation. The main issue here is that currently I observe a huge amount of disruptive data trends in different PLM implementations. Combined with a large amount of legacy data, apps and home grown implementations it created the situation where a significant effort need to move PLM data implementation forward. The potential idea for this foundation is open source data foundation alliance supported by all PLM vendors.

Flexible Integration Capabilities. The integration topic in PLM is currently in the very bad shape. In my view, vendors gave up in their effort to invest into integration. Customers are mostly solving these problems by themselves or by 3rd party products.

An additional issue is social. PLM as an industry needs to come to the level of maturity in their ability to organize PLM events with involvement of multiple mindshare PLM vendors and related to PLM providers and supporters. The understanding of such need is very important. There are an absolute absence of PLM events these days with some small exclusion. The healthy industry needs to be able to consolidate around strong industry leaders and additional technological, vertical, service and other commercial companies.

Just my thoughts… I will continue my “thinking research” and hope to come with some conclusions towards COFES 2010.

Best, Oleg

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How To Monetize PLM?

January 25, 2010

Almost a year ago, I raised the question asking if free is going to be the future of PLM? You can take a look on this discussion here. Additional discussions related to the “free” topic also happened. However, most of them were related to the notion of Open Source PLM. Nevertheless, today, I’d like to get back to this topic in the strict FREE context.

Before talking about PLM, I’d like to take you back into 19th century when two French economists – Cournot and Bertrand built models of the competitive world. They basically came to the opposite conclusions. According to Cournet, companies need to keep production lower in order to keep price high and not going to drop prices to the marginal level. According to Bertrand, model was opposite and in short assumed that manufacturers need raise production to get additional market share by taking down the product price. The second theory got back to us in today’s digital economic.

Let’s get back to PDM/PLM world. My hunch is that high prices and low profit are very typical for this space. Companies are competing with products having similar functionality (just compare portfolios of leading PLM vendors) and “successfully” driving prices and margins down more and more. At the same time, “user’s adoption” becomes a very critical topic in PDM/PLM space. In the situation when PLM products introduce more and more issues, customers are looking more and more on the alternatives (i.e. non-PLM software like Excel or emerging vendors providing open source or on-demand products).

So, what can be a solution to resolve this dead-lock? In my view, the ultimate solution can be taking price down to the ZERO level. By making basic PLM/PDM functionality free, we can expect improved user adoption and growing market share. Associated with this, quality of the software will be improved due to massive implementations for the huge amount of new customers. Now, you will ask me when PDM/PLM vendors will take money to do such action? I have few potential answers and will be interested to discuss what do you think about such options:

1. Selling support contracts and services

2. Selling online storage, traffic

3. Selling premium functionality

4. Selling information about organization work for the future improvement

Actually, I see, some of these processes already started to happen. The massive introduction of PDM functionality bundled with CAD is sort of trying to “sell for free”. There is a significant interest to model of Free Licenses etc.

Just my thoughts… What do you think about that?

Best, Oleg


Will PLM Get Troubled by Future FOSS databases?

December 17, 2009

The following article in TechWords “The New FOSS Frontier: The Database Market” drove me to think about PLM and RDBS relationships from a different angle. For PLM, as for all enterprise applications these days, RDBMS is almost commodity. PLM supports all of them (actually there are not so many – Oracle, MS SQL Server and DB2, who else?), cost of RDBS solution is insignificant since it either included into premium cost of PLM or RDBMS is already available in the organization.

Nevertheless, I think, things may go wrong. I see two aspects where PLM providers can be impacted. Here is my view on this.

1. Cost of PLM software. Introduction of FOSS into the enterprise domain can drive customers to think about the future cost cutting in software. With today’s huge payments for RDBMS, enterprises don’t see any other alternatives and continue to pay to ERP, PLM and other vendors. Tomorrow their expectation will be different.

2. Reliance on RDBMS vendor status quo. PLM systems are heavily relying on databases in general. Also, some of PLM systems are tuned for a specific RDBMS features. What will happen if PLM will lose RDBM anchor in enterprise?

So, what is my thoughts and conclusion today? Ringing bell of free should awake some of the sleeping PLM behemoths. Tomorrow the situation be a different and customer’s perception on enterprise software can change, just if a small fraction of enterprises, will be switching from licensed RDBMS systems to FOSS rivals. So, PLM better to come prepared.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg


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