Tech Soft 3D TechTalk: PLM and Data Management in 21st Century

October 25, 2013


Boston is one of the rare places where you meet many CAD and PLM people at the same time at the same place. You don’t need to guess a lot why so. MIT CAD Lab as well as many companies in this domain made Greater Boston a unique place for talents in CAD and PLM space.

Tech Soft 3D is well known technological outfit helping many companies in CAD and PLM domain to develop successful products. Besides that Tech Soft 3D is sponsoring a gathering of technological fellows in the CAD/PLM domain to come, network and share their experience – Tech Talk. Yesterday was my first time attending Tech Talk in downtown Boston. I missed one last year because of crazy travel schedule. This year I’ve been honored to get invited and make a short speak. I shared my experience and thoughts about database and data management technological trends. As part of my presentation I shared my thoughts about so called NoSQL trend, what it contains and how it can be useful for CAD, PDM/PLM. Below you can see a full slide deck of my presentation.

PLM and Data Management in 21st Century from Oleg Shilovitsky

On the following slide, you can see a simplified decision table that can help you to designate what noSQL databases can be useful for different type of solutions.


What is my conclusion? Database and data management technology is going through cambrian explosion of different options and flavors. It is a result of massive amount of development coming from open source, web and other places. Database is moving from “solution” into “toolbox” status. Single database (mostly RDBMS) is no longer a straightforward decision for all your development tasks. My hunch, CAD/PLM developers need to ramp up with with tools and knowledge to tackle with future database decisions. Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

PLM: Mobile-Optimized Sites vs. Mobile Apps

January 24, 2012

For most non-technology-savvy people, the title of this post can sound like a joke. Mobile apps are trending today. App store, Android stores, Microsoft is planning to re-born Windows phone with future versions of Windows and mobile app. How it can die? Looking on this following graph from article (Apps user overtakes web) on Mashable last year, you can hardly predict something wrong may happen to mobile apps.

However, among technology people the discussion about apps vs. web is not unusual. Those of use, who stays long enough in the business, still remember multi-platform discussions of Unix vs. Windows. You can catch up on my previous post on this topic – PLM and Multi-platform development. I did catch the following picture on on the web polls (unfortunately lost the link). The context of the audience was development people. This is indeed important to mention. You can clearly see people are focusing the development on mobile-oriented sites.

Mobile-Optimized Sites vs. Mobile Apps

The development side of this story is simple. Mobile Apps is our back to multi-platform development. It cost additional money and requires more complicated development organization compared to mobile-optimized websites that can provide some pain relief. You can take a look on a good comparison of two strategies on devbridge blog. I believe, the discussion is on the way, and it is far from a final word. You certainly need to remember the right keyword for the future – HTML 5.You can read more about this on one of my older posts.

What is my conclusion? I’m going to make my conclusion specifically talking about PLM mobile apps. PLM vendors followed technological and consumer trends to develop mobile applications. It sounds as a very important strategy these days, which cause huge interest from companies, users, analysts and industry watchers. Taking into account the long development cycle of enterprise applications and speed of adoption in manufacturing domain, I think software companies better have been not only short – term, but some longer-term development strategy that will allow them to jump to the next trend when it comes. For the moment, let’s rock available PLM mobile apps on iTunes app store and Android Market. I’m certainly interested to hear what do you think. And if you’re developing PLM apps, I like to know what is your opinion. Speak your mind.

Best, Oleg

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 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


PLM and Real Time Data

June 15, 2010

I had chance to read “SAP, Oracle and ‘Real’ Real-Time Apps“. I think it is an interesting read. SAP and Oracle are two large players in the PLM space, even their PLM agenda seems different from the agenda of PLM mindshare leaders such as PTC, Dassault and Siemens PLM. The conversation about data and real time made me think about what is the possible value of real-time application in PLM domain.

Real Time Data Foundation
Data Warehouse for the long period of time was the ultimate option proposed by large middleware and ERP vendors to consolidate enterprise information. However, it is considered as a complicated option and most of the companies were not moving fast to explore this solution  from all possible aspect options. I wonder if the data warehouse can move forward and propose some better options to consolidate informational streams. The following quote is interesting:

In-memory and column-oriented technologies have been around for years, and vendors like Sybase and Vertica have been talking about 10X to 100X data compression for nearly as long. Did it really take an application vendor to think outside the box of the database market as we know it? Has it really been beyond outfits as talented and well-funded as IBM and Teradata to tackle these problems? Or have the database vendors been protecting the status quo and certain revenue streams? It seems even Oracle’s OLTP- and OLAP-capable Exadata doesn’t aspire to replace the data warehouse layer as we know it.

My guess is that we probably are going to have some changes in this space soon. These two vendors will try to deliver a platform to enable data syndication in the real time. It can come as part of Oracle Fusion or SAP new development following Sybase acquisition. In parallel, I’d expect some additional experiments in this space coming from multiple smaller vendors in providers. What are PLM options and opportunities in this space?

PLM Real Time Options
In my view, PLM is watching very carefully to everything that is going in enterprise data space. PLM vendors are in the continues fight with their biggest rivals (SAP and Oracle) about the data ownership in the organization. What are PLM options in this real-time game? I see two potential aspects in the real time space for PLM: 1/Real time communication; 2/Real time information. Real time communication is all about the ability to collaboration – connect, share, modify, co-develop. In my view, this is a strong side of PLM in real time. I see PLM companies introduced new products helping to designers to collaboration. The second option (Real Time Information) is actually creating much less excitement in my eyes. Real time information in manufacturing organization is all about how to get all synchronized up to date information available. PLM vendors talked a lot about federation and integration in the past. However, it never came to real-time information availability.

What is my conclusion today?  I can see two main sides of real-time in PLM: Real Time Communication and Real Time Information. It seems to me PLM won the first round in their ability to lead collaborative work by allowing people to communication online on their design. But, the second problem (Real Time Information) can be a place where middleware and ERP vendors may have an advantage by syndication of information into Real Time Data Warehouse of the future. I think, some PLM vendors will think about how to provide information in this space too.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


PLM and ALM: How To Blend Disparate Systems?

June 2, 2010

I had chance to read an article in SD time – Organization works to blend application, product life-cycle management. Author discussing the need to integrate two separate domain – development of hardware and mechanical components and software. I think, the message is very timely made. There are lots of software in modern products. Author brings an example of OnStar in vehicle communication. However, it is possible to bring more examples, of course.

Integration between disparate application having completely different set of data, rules and behavior is always a very challenging use case. In this case, author discussing the future of common standard creation that will help to integration PLM components and components managing software lifecycle (i.e. Rational tools). This discussion made me think about potential pitfalls and opportunities on this way.

Heterogeneous Application Environment
In the real world, many applications used during the design, engineering and manufacturing process. Mechanical, Electrical and Software teams are normally separate and relation between them quite limited from the software sides. This is the reality. In my view, when it comes to software, the disconnection comes to the top level. What can be a system that controls software build level need to be placed in the particular vehicle or other mechanical product?

Does One Standard Fit All?
The author is discussing OLSC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration). I found the following video funny. The idea of community is going very much aligned with modern social approaches.

There are three key fundamental principles – URL, Minimal Schema and REST services proposed to make this solution work. I’m thinking how much time people will spend before they will agree about minimal schema that fit all. At in the end, as film states everybody wants to be a little different.

Don’t Integrate, Just Connect Dots
Here is my point. We don’t need to invent a minimal schema. It is enough to agree about to interlink different product representation- mechanical, electrical, software. Think about URL only. In my view, it will be enough to get job done. Global data identification similar to what we have in the internet can move us in the right direction. One of the examples of such technologies can be PURL. “A persistent uniform resource locator (PURL) is a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) (i.e. location-based Uniform Resource Identifier or URI) that does not directly describe the location of the resource to be retrieved but instead describes an intermediate (more persistent) location which, when retrieved, results in redirection (e.g. via a 302 HTTP status code) to the current location of the final resource.”

What is my conclusion? The landscape of application involved in this product development is very large. The number of applications is growing. The ability to absorb the requirements of all applications into one minimal single standards schema seems impossible. The new and more efficient way to interlink data need to be proposed. We don’t need to bring software build and engineering bill of materials to a single representation. However, we need to be able to interlink data related to different applications to maintain data integrity.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


PLM Collaboration and Technological Splashes

May 18, 2010

Technology and products are not always going together. What is the most fascinating to me is to see how technological splashes create future in products. Last year I had chance to discuss Google Wave. It was a completely technological vision with some fuzzy product examples. In my post, last year, I outlined 6 reasons why Google Wave will change PLM collaboration . For me, it was a completely technological opportunity.

In the end of 2009, I found a very interesting development made by SAP. The project code name 12sprints was presented as a SAP’s Web 2.0 future. The focus of this product is interesting. It stated to provide a collaborative decision making tool. “It’s not just a place where things get discussed. It’s where things get done. Invite the right people. Bring in the pertinent data. And choose the most informed course of action with the help of pre-defined, interactive decision-making tools. It’s all built in. Everything you need to get everyone on the same page — finally under one roof.”

SAP transformed 12sprints product into the tool called SAP StreamWork (TM). I found the web site of this product interesting and containing some videos you can consider as worth looking. You can find videos on the following link. In addition, you can see SAP StreamWork is trying to integrate with Google Wave to improve collaborative capabilities. Another interesting aspect is to see who are the StreamWork’s partners – EverNote, Scribd and, which, in my view, shows very modern technological connections.

The SAP StreamWork story made me think about technological splashes and PLM again. The nature of PLM is very collaborative. Engineers and designers need to collaborate all the time and to bring new technologies into this process is a very important. I wound like to outline few options and capabilities PLM tools can consider to improve their collaborative capabilities.

Online Documents
To be able to share documents is very important for collaboration. There are few separate products in this space coming from different engineering and manufacturing software vendors. Most of them are focusing on CAD and Drawing viewing. Just to name few of them – Autodesk Freewheel, 3DVIA composer, Actify. I’d think about the potential to expand it to additional product in the space of online engineering content in the future.

Tasks Management
Very often, people don’t need to manage complex processes. However, they need to be able to share some collaborative action management environment. The ability to easy create, share and follow up tasks can be a powerful addition to a set of decision making tools

Contextual Decision Tools
I liked some tools introduced by StreamWork, such as Pro/Con table and others. I call them simple decision tools. In my view, this work was inspired by Google Wave Gadgets. I think, we will see more such tools in the future.

What is my conclusion? I think, we will see more and more an enterprise related product splashes following technological invention and vision of products outside of enterprise space. What I liked in the following video is a powerful connection between consumer oriented decision and business association. Consumer and Internet software will continue to disrupt enterprise software and people will be interested how to bring new product waves and ideas to this space. Watch it!

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


SAP Goes for Database, What Is PLM Path?

May 17, 2010

Last week announcement about SAP-Sybase acquisition made me think about potential paths for PLM applications and technological verticals in the future. It is interesting to see SAP’s pick up of aged Sybase. On the surface, the business justification is clear. Following previous jumbo acquisition of Business Objects in 2007 and projected improvements of SAP front end applications, the acquisition of Sybase is focusing on the strategic disconnecting of SAP from their rivals and database sponsors – Oracle and Microsoft.

The ERP Shadow
Despite the fact PLM is not directly competing with ERP vendors, the shadow of ERP is always in the air when you are thinking about enterprise PLM implementation. PLM felt a step child in the family of enterprise products. ERP, obviously considered the king of this family. PLM is continuously trying to convince in their dominance starting from the ability to handle product data, processes and ending up non-stop discussions about Bill of Material related issues. ERP sales outperformed PLM colleagues by clear presentation of ROI and other business topics.

RDBMS and PLM – catholic marriage?
PLM dependence on database technologies is very significant these days. 100% of PLM development relies on relational SQL based databases. However, most of PLM systems are tweaking their database model to support various highly sophisticated modeling abstractions. Some of these implementations are abusing core principles of RDBMS and building efficient and performance oriented data store. Few months ago, I posted about noSQL options for PLM platform. Another non-RDBMS alternative for PLM are various FOSS data platforms used in mega-scale Internet application. I’d consider it as a very interesting future option for PLM.

PLM Verticals and Flexibility
At the time when ERP clear decision is to go on complete vertical path, and building fully integrated vertical offering, an interesting question I want to ask – should PLM follow? What will be important for Product Lifecycle Management application to manage effectively product development and manufacturing shops tomorrow? The big advantage of highly integrated vertical architectures is in their ability to serve customers with their complete software offering. ERP did it in the past and continues doing so now too. At the same time, SAP is investing into a database backend verticals, I think, enterprise software giants forgot to learn a lesson from and some other products focusing on high flexibility and granularity in their products and portfolios.

What is my conclusion? Big companies are trying to become bigger. The obvious path is to build verticals to preserve their dominance top down- from the application to the middleware, platforms, database, storage. Is it the right path for PLM? I’m not sure. Manufacturers are looking for a flexible way to organize their product development and manufacturing. Businesses are very dynamic these days and the future will come from the side of agility.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


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, 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 ( / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


PLM Model: Granularity, Bottom-Up and Change

May 3, 2010

Few weeks ago, I had chance to post about PLM Data Model. I think, PLM space has a real lack of discussions about data modeling. It seems to me, PLM vendors and developers are too focused on process management, user experience and other catchy trends. At the same time, everybody forgot that data model is bread and butter of every PDM/PLM implementation. I want to open some debates about what I see missing in current PLM data models.

I’m very happy, this word started to catch up attention of people. It came in multiple discussions I had last time with some of the colleagues in the CAD/PDM/PLM software domain. Chis mentioned in it his Vuuch ( blog. Al Dean also had chance to talk about it on his Develop3D ( One of the problems in PLM is a diversity of implementation and needs. PLM tools implemented lots of functional goodies over the past decade. However, the customization becomes a mess. It looks to me, current data model organization is outdated in most of PLM systems these days.  The last revolution PDM/PLM made was about 15 years ago when the notion of “a flexible data model” was introduced. Today, the next step should be done.

How to build an efficient data model for PLM implementation? How to build a model that answers to the specific customer needs. Current vendor’s proposal is to make a selection from the list of all possible “modules”. It comes in a form of “best practices”. In my view, it is really “bad” practices. Selecting of big data model chunks put too many model constraints and create compatibility problems. The idea of bottom-up data modeling relies on the capability to define very granular pieces of data and grow bottom up in building a model that reflects customer needs.

Cost of Change
What is the most killing factor in today’s PDM/PLM software. In my view, it is cost of change. PLM models become not flexible and keep lots of dependencies on PLM system implementations. The future, in my view, is building very granular functional services alongside with the bottom up data model schema. It will allow to decrease cost of change, reduce dependencies between components and in the end, reduce a cost of change.

What is my conclusion? I think, technology matters. Without thinking about technologies, PLM won’t be able to make a next leapfrog. It becomes urgent. PLM model is a natural starting point to improve PLM implementation.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


PLM Content and Facebook Open Graph

April 28, 2010

Facebook F8 conference this week was a place for some very interesting announcements that, in my view, may have an impact on PLM too. I can recommend you to read a good summary of news introduced by Facebook here. In my view, it presents a very interesting dimension in the future development of Facebook. The question I’m asking – should PLM care? Is there something new presented by Facebook, that can catch a focus of current and future PLM development?

Web Content Creation

Facebook is making next steps in the development of content on the web. FB introducing a new way to build social sites where a site itself converted into meaningful content item able to accumulate links to other elements of web content. It presents another dimension in the way web content can be structured.

Social Graph

The notion of connection between social sites is presented in the Open Graph Protocol. Facebook OGP API will provide a way to browse through dependencies and connection between content elements based on social dimension. This is a very interesting approach in the development of rich metadata about web content.

PLM Content

I see a comparison between the way Facebook is building social web content and PLM content. For the last few years PLM presented a very hardwired way to create structured content. It creates a lot of complexity in user interaction and tools integration. The fundamentals of this content are in the ability to structure product information in various dimensions – design, bill of material, projects, etc. The similarity between Facebook social content and PLM structured content is obvious to me. However, Facebook presented an interesting approach to build it. There are several developments on PLM horizon that can fit such concepts – DS/BlueKiwi, PTC Windchill/SharePoint, Vuuch. It will be interesting to see the future development of these products.

What is my conclusion? Facebook is going to change a way to create the web content. Current PDM/PLM software seems very cumbersome from the standpoint on how to interplay with user on content creations. PLM can learn few lessons about how to create a content in the organization and across the value chain. Some concepts and ideas can be replicated in my view. What is your opinion?

Best, Oleg



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