What Aras “great fanfare” means for PLM industry

July 3, 2015

disruption-plm-aras

Aras is probably doing something right. At least this is an immediate thought that comes to my mind when I see a line of press releases with announcements about significant deals or agreements. The last one about Aras and Airbus partnership just came few days ago – Airbus and Aras sign Strategic Partner Agreement to use Aras Innovator for enterprise-wide Engineering Business Processes beyond 30,000 Users. The announcement outlines list 5 topics that potentially differentiated Aras from other PLM platforms. Here is the passage from press release:

Several PLM Platforms were evaluated by Airbus for the ability to enable simple, agile solution delivery, and Aras was retained as the preferred platform based on: 1/ Significant coverage of expected scope; 2/ Open architecture with high-end data modeling “on the fly”, no development involved; 3/ Upgrade services for customizations included as part of subscription; 4/ Easy integration & handling; 5/ Long term viability and total cost of ownership

Four years ago, I attended Aras event – ACE 2011 in Detroit. You might remember my article – Aras PLM lines up against Windchill, Enovia and Teamcenter. I can see a connection between topics from Aras-Airbus announcement and my 2011 blog post – platform flexibility, customization, integration and low TCO.

Aras announcement made me think about what happens with Aras for the last 4 years. Here is the list of my thoughts.

1- Aras is probably coming to the right combination of functional maturity and cost that allows to be disruptive for larger deals against top 3 leading PLM vendors (Dassault Systems, Siemens PLM and PTC).

2- Aras architecture can scale to the level demanded by enterprise IT of large organizations thinking about 10’000s users. Aras sent a strong message last year (backed up by Microsoft) about 1 million PLM user scalability test on Microsoft SQL server, which potentially created a confidence for IT organizations.

3- Aras removed one of the most complicated questions related to upgrades and continues support of new revisions. Aras is committed to support “free upgrade services” for subscription customers. It allows to IT managers not to be very concerned by a potential “version lock” when organization is forced to pay a significant amount of money for services to migrate to the latest PLM software version.

So, how does it impact PLM industry? For the last 10-15 years, nobody created a significant competition to the top 3 largest PLM software outfits – Enovia, Teamcenter, Windhcill. But, here is the thing – traditional PLM software reached their limits and many organizations need to consider what to do next. The ROI is slow and upgrade to next versions of PLM platforms is questionable.

What is my conclusion? It looks likes Aras has a potential to change a status quo among top tier of PLM providers. You can think about Aras as a “pain relief” for companies thinking how to grow their PLM development and concerned about a ROI speed. Here is my formula of what happened: ARAS SUCCESS = MATURE PLM FUNCTIONS + STABLE ARCHITECTURE – HIGH LICENSE COST + ALL INCLUSIVE UPGRADE SERVICES. So, what about risks of switching to Aras? The potential risks for Aras can come from growing development and support effort that will force Aras to raise subscription cost. I see it as a challenge for Aras team. But, by that time, Aras can potentially disrupt large enough number of manufacturing OEMs to become 4th major PLM provider. It looks like next few years we will see a growing competition between existing PLM vendor and Aras, which is on mission to disrupt PLM industry status quo. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg


PLM, Upgrades and Competition

June 1, 2015

plm-competition-and-upgrades

Traditional PLM wisdom says to buy PLM system is a complex process. Once you decided for a specific platform or technology, it will be very hard to change or replace with something else. I’ve been skimming social network news this morning The following tweet from @jonathanpscott caught my attention – “More details on the #ENOVIA #SmarTeam User Group meeting in OH next week ht.ly/NzuwE #PLM“. I’ve been involved into SmarTeam development many years ago and I’m aware Dassault System is still supporting the system. However, the following message from the agenda – “ENOVIA SmarTeam – a safe place to be”, increased my curiosity up even more. Future in the agenda you can see topics related to SmarTeam migration and co-existence.

It made me think about lifecycle of PLM systems and implementation more. What is the average cycle time for PLM implementation? How often companies are replacing PLM systems and what does it mean for a company in terms of effort, planning, operation and support?

Earlier this month I came across Aras Corp. materials about “resilient PLM”. If you haven’t heard about this new PLM buzz, navigate to the following link to read more. The term was coined by Aras to explain how Aras Innovator’s technology can withstand multiple upgrades and changes. Peter Schroer, Aras CEO is explaining about resilient PLM in the following video. Pay attention to the following part of the video explaining how Aras customers successfully moved between different versions of Aras on different databases – Postgress, Oracle, Microsoft SQL for the last 15 years.

Cloud technologies is another way to solve the problem of upgrades. Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity and Brian Roepke of Autodesk are discussing the advantages of cloud PLM. Watch the following video from 6:05 when Brian speaks about upgrades and revision lock. The upgrade sometimes even more expensive than initial implementation. According to Brian Roepke, cloud PLM technologies are solving the problem of upgrades and migrations in traditional PLM implementations.

Migration of PLM solutions can be significant driver in fundamental strategic decisions manufacturing companies are taking. Earlier last week Siemens PLM announced about the successful completion of PLM2015 project and move from CATIA to NX. Daimler’s decision was heavily influenced by the preference not to move between two PLM systems (Teamcenter and ENOVIA). Read about it in Schnitgercorp blog Reaching that one customer in a PLMish landscape. Here is the passage, which explains the reason:

Daimler‘s decision to move from CATIA to NX, huge as it was, was ultimately made by a team that weighed the benefits and risks in a more limited context than the overall Siemens portfolio. As I understand it, in the end it was simple: Daimler had based many business processes on its Teamcenter implementation; CATIA V6 requires ENOVIA, so Daimler would have had to build links between ENOVIA and Teamcenter to move forward with Dassault Systemes. That was more complicated, to Daimler, than migrating 235,000 “CAD objects” and retraining 6,000 people.

What is my conclusion? PLM upgrade or migration is sensitive and complicated process. It requires a lot of resources and can be very costly. In the current state of manufacturing and PLM technology customers are looking how to insure many years of operation once they implemented the system. However, business is changing and the need to be flexible is striking back as a conflicting requirement. Combined together it brings a very interesting flavor into PLM competition. The ability to implement PLM system and upgrade an existing (often outdated) PLM implementation becomes a key feature in the future competitiveness of PLM system. It is equally important for cloud and non-cloud implementations. I think the PLM vendor and technology capable to do so can gain a lot of traction in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 



How much does it cost to manage CAD data?

May 14, 2015

cad-free-pdm

CAD files. Everyone who is dealing with design and engineering is familiar with this type of data. Large files, many dependencies, hard to store, share, change. That was the place where originally Product Data Management – PDM was born (if you long enough in this industry you might remember EDM or TDM acronyms too). Until very recently, PDM tools were hard to install, configure and use. Engineers didn’t like them and tried to avoid it as much as possible.

There are some good news on the horizon. CAD and PLM vendors are recognizing the need to release engineers from PDM pain and focusing on how to improve it from both user experience and license cost. If you recall one of my earlier blogs this year, I was talking about some interesting changes in PDM licensing from GrabCAD and SolidWorks – The future of free PDM.

Recent announcement from Autodesk about changes in Fusion360 packaging is not directly related to PDM. In a nutshell, it was about moving bunch of premium Fusion360 features into standard package with subscription price $25/month. At the same time, Fusion360 is providing PDM functionality and it is part of the subscription license which cost you 25$/month. Navigate here to learn more.

Another my post “Onshape quietly developed Google Drive for CAD” will give you a perspective from another cloud CAD disruptor – Onshape. A set of CAD data management (PDM) functionality is part of Onshape product. The subscription has free option as well as $100/month option. Navigate here to learn more.

It made me think about how much are we going to pay to manage and share CAD files in a near future?

The more “traditional” CAD / PDM approach is bundling CAD data management and integration functions into PDM/ PLM products. It forms a group of relatively expensive CAD data management tools. Navigate the following links to see examples – Aras CAD data management, Autodesk Vault, ENOVIA CAD data management, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, SolidEdge SP, Siemens TeamCenter PDM, Windchill PDM Link. The license cost and TCO is not always obvious and transparent (not very different from many examples of on premise enterprise software). At the same time, the functionality of these packages are often goes much beyond just managing revisions and sharing CAD files.

Another group of vendors and products are formed by new “cloud products” that can give you an option to manage and share CAD data. All of them are subscription based. For some of them, PDM is an integral part of a bigger product. There are products with free subscription option under some conditions. Here is the list of vendors – Autodesk Fusion360, Autodesk A360, GrabCAD Workbench, Onshape, Kenesto Drive, Team Platform. I’m sure missed some of new cloud outfits, so please let me know about new cool names to be added.

What is my conclusion? I can see a strong trend for making CAD data management ubiquitous and near free is a reality we might face very soon. Cloud CAD vendors will lead this trend because PDM is an fundamental part of cloud CAD delivery mechanism. It will take trajectory of cost for CAD data management and collaboration to zero. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future of PLM apps

April 27, 2015

enterprise-apps

PLM technologies and products went through many changes for the last two decades. If you long timer in PLM industry, you might remember initial PDM / PLM products. In my view, most of them provided some sort of toolbox solutions used by large companies and IT service organization. You had to spend time to tailor a solution that can be used by a manufacturing company. The last decade of PLM development was featured by an invasion of Out-of-the-box PLM solutions. While flexibility was an ultimate requirements by all manufacturing companies, Out-of-the-box (OOTB) strategy used to lower implementation cost and demonstrating capabilities of PLM products for specific industries and needs.

The new trend came in 2010s. Apps and App stores. Everybody got an “app virus” in their strategies. To develop apps is a new way and we are getting infected by this trend. If you cut the marketing buzz, the idea of app development has some strong grounds. Think how to deliver a specific tailored solution for customers.

Who is developing PLM apps?

Apps is a language that used by several PLM providers in the past.

Aras PLM community solutions (projects). Aras enterprise open source model is allowing to partners to develop variety of solutions to cover specific customer needs. The openness of Aras and zero cost of platform (if you don’t want to pay for subscription) made Aras a good choice for partners and companies developing PLM solutions. You can learn more by navigating to the following link.

Autodesk PLM 360. Autodesk PLM360 flexibility and cloud delivery was presented a one of key differentiations. Navigate to PLM360 app store to learn about solutions (apps) available on top of PLM 360. Navigate to the following link to see available apps. The following Autodesk blog post by Mike Watkins make a demonstration how to build a new app using PLM360.

Dassault 3DExprience platform. DS is speaking about apps on top of 3DEXPERIENCE platform, but I didn’t find signs of these apps online. Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insight put a good review of apps strategy on his blog, which indicated flexibility and apps as part of DS strategy.

GrabCAD Engineering apps. This is probably a history, but one day GrabCAD had a strategy to build an app store together with Autodesk. Navigate to this blog from 2013 to read more. After GrabCAD acquisition I never heard about GrabCAD building app store.

Siemens PLM apps and platform. Siemens PLM is also thinking how to come with PLM apps. Navigate to the following link to learn more about platform extensibility. Lifecycle insight article about separating platform and apps can give you an additional insight on that.

How to develop apps

To develop app is actually a challenge that requires many steps to be done. Every PLM implementation is a bit different. So, how to make an app store that can be used by multiple customers. To support these apps can be also a challenging factor.

What happens outside of PLM world? Salesforce1 is probably one of the best examples of a platform that used to develop enterprise apps. More to come. You can find publications of companies speaking about how to enable application building app stores or focusing on development of mobile apps. One the most notable was Apple / IBM partnership from very large companies (Apple and IBM). Box Dev edition is another interesting example. I posted about it last week here. I stumble on another interesting example coming from startup world – Fliplet – a platform to develop mobile apps, which reminded me some sort of “WordPress for mobile apps”.

What is my conclusion? How to develop, deliver and support enterprise apps is an interesting challenge software vendors are facing these days. It is especially painful problem in PLM world where each PLM implementation is a bit different. So, do you think PLM apps is a future? How to deliver PLM apps platform that will eliminate the need for painful and expensive PLM implementations? Do you think one of existing PLM platforms can be robust and open enough to provide PaaS for future PLM apps? What is your take? I don’t think we have an answer today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Will Aras pave the road to PLM heaven?

April 22, 2015

plm-heaven

I’m following Aras PLM annual event online this week – ACE2015. There is a moderate volume of tweets coming from Detroit. Navigate to the following link to have a look. You can take a look on the agenda here.

For the last few years, Aras is developing as a very interesting story. Do you remember my post back in 2011 – Aras PLM lines up against Windchill, Enovia, and TeamCenter. If you listen to updates coming from Aras, this is actually coming truth and I’ve seen presentations made by few customers explaining how Aras is replacing existing PLM implementations or co-exist with PDM implementations from Enovia, TeamCenter and Windchill.

The following slide caught my attention yesterday. It was part of Sonnax presentation at ACE2015. It gives an interesting definition of PLM nightmare vs. PLM heaven.

aras-plm-heaven

PLM Nightmare

Spreadsheets, Workflow software and Activity database. I can see a point of spreadsheets. Especially after my yesterday blog referencing complex automotive configuration environment made of Excel. However, the sense of nightmare with workflow software and activity database was a new thing for me. If I think about each PLM software, workflows and activities is an essential part of every PLM platform. My hunch is that PLM workflows are complicated and hard to implement. And it makes terrible experience for users.

PLM Heaven

Flexible, accessible by all and dollar doable. I found this combination interesting. It clearly shows the level of concern manufacturing companies have with software licenses cost. Flexibility is something that often associated with spreadsheets, but I can see a point of configurable flexible data models. Accessible by all is the most important. And this is, in my view, it is a combination of technology and license cost. Cloud, web and mobile are technologies that can make PLM software accessible. However, it should come in the package with business models allowing to all parties to be connected.

It made me think about accessibility of PLM solution as a key component of a successful PLM software. PLM software must be available to every person in manufacturing companies and connected eco system of suppliers, contractors, service providers and (probably) customers. Without that, PLM will be in a danger to stay a database of engineering change workflow and manage revisions of CAD files.

What is my conclusion? Aras is using tagline “Rethink PLM“. Actually, I like it very much. Coincidentally, I posted about it – Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what? We can see lot of disruption these days in many industries – communication, transportation, connected devices, home automation, mobility. So, rethinking will be coming to PLM too. But, the meaning of “rethinking” is tricky and should be filled with clear differentiation supported by 10x better technologies, new business models and use experience. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


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

March 6, 2015

plm-cloud-landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM software lifecycle and social development roadmaps

December 16, 2014

social-product-development

My post few days about PLM software replacement cycle turned into discussion about the way companies are implementing and maintaining PLM software, upgrades, new versions and planning investments into infrastructure and enterprise software. My attention caught Technia on demand webinar – The future of SmarTeam. It is an example of long software development cycle, maintenance, support and transition of enterprise software. I can see it typical for PLM as well as for enterprise software category, in general.

At the same time, there are some changes in enterprise software domain these days. Software development is getting more social. Social networks and other social activities are helping to develop better communication with customers. It helps to make better alignment with customers and socialize around software rodmap and features. On the last point, I found few examples to share with you from Aras Corp, Autodesk and GrabCAD.

Aras Corp., developer of enterprise open software PLM software – Aras Innovator is maintaining transparency and visibility around customer requests and development roadmap. Navigate to the following link to see Aras roadmap. An interesting feature here is customer voting mechanism, which helps to prioritize development.

aras-social-roadmap

Another example is Autodesk community. Navigate your browser to PLM360 IDEASTATION link. It gives you an opportunity to socialize your ideas directly with development team, voting for ideas and discuss details.

plm-360-idea-station

GrabCAD blog earlier today – GrabCAD’s product development process: how new features come to life brings some insight about GrabCAD development process, communication and features’ validation process. Here is a key passage from the post:

After testing and making sure things work, we introduce new features to our most passionate power users to get the last round of validation and give the first taste of what’s coming. Even if you are super happy about the solution you came up with internally, always get feedback from smaller group of people outside of the company before unveiling it to the world. Fresh sets of eyes can see your product in a totally different way. This entire process is fast. An easier project might take a day or two while more important functionality might take a couple of weeks to build. If a project gets finished and published, there’s no time to waste. New improvements are waiting to be worked on and the cycle starts again.

I didn’t find a way to see GrabCAD Workbench online- maybe GrabCAD folks can comment on that below.

I’m sure this is not exhaustive list of PLM vendors and examples how they are socializing around requirements and development roadmap. So, if you have more examples, please bring them in comments or send me via email.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise software world is transforming. Social media and networking are bringing new methods of open communication with customers. I can see a significant influence of open source and web development communities. I can see this trend is growing in the future. To communicate first, discuss with customer and then develop will become a new software development norm in enterprise too. Just my thought..

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Rich B-S via photopin cc


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