PLM upgrades, release cycles and legacy software

August 20, 2014

legacy-software

Do you know what is legacy software? Earlier today, Marc Lind of Aras Corp. challenged me by his twitter status about companies complaining about legacy PLM systems and upgrading. Here is the original passage from twitter here and here.

"a lot of people complains about legacy PLM and a lot of companies that have legacy PLM are throwing in the towel and switching these days".

marc-lind-legacy-plm-tweet

The part of statement about "legacy software" is really interesting. Last week, I wasn’t able to update a game on my son’s iPad. After few minutes, I discovered that Apple is not supporting the original iPad hardware manufactured 4 years ago. Does it mean iOS software run on that iPad is a legacy? Good question. At the same time, what about properly functioning ERP software that company runs already for the last 10 years without any plans to upgrade? Is that a legacy software?

Wikipedia gives me the following definition of legacy system:

In computing a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program,"of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system."[1] A more recent definition says that "a legacy system is any corporate computer system that isn’t Internet-dependent."[2]… The first use of the term legacy to describe computer systems probably occurred in the 1970s. By the 1980s it was commonly used to refer to existing computer systems to distinguish them from the design and implementation of new systems. Legacy was often heard during a conversion process, for example, when moving data from the legacy system to a new database.

Software upgrades is an important topic in engineering and manufacturing. Very often, systems can be in use very long time because of product lifecycle and the need to maintain existing data. It happens a lot in defense, aero and some other "regulated" industries. Also, because of significant investment, the ROI from upgrade can be questionable, which leads companies to keep existing outdated systems in operation. I’ve been posted about problems of PLM customization and upgrades before – How to eliminate PLM customization problems and Cloud PLM and future of upgrades.

PLM vendors are aware about the issue of upgrades and difficulties of software migrations . For long time, industry recognized it as something unavoidable. However, in today’s dynamic business environment, the issue of software upgrades cannot be ignored. Customers demanding flexible and agile software that can be deployed and updated fast. At the same time, changes of business models towards services and subscriptions pushed the problem of upgrades back to vendors.

Earlier this year, my attention was caught by CIMdata publication – Aras Innovator: Redefining Customization & Upgrades. Aras enterprise open source model is predominantly subscription oriented. Which provides lots of incentives for Aras engineers to solve the issue of upgrades and new versions deployment. Here is the passage from the article confirming that:

For several years, the Aras Corporation (Aras) has included no-cost version-to-version upgrades in their enterprise subscriptions, independent of how the solution has been customized and implemented. This is a rather bold guarantee given the historic challenges the industry has experienced with upgrading highly customized PLM deployments. With more than 300 upgrades behind it, CIMdata felt it appropriate to find out how Aras’ guarantee was playing out, and discovered that there was much more to the story than just a contractual guarantee. Fundamentally, Aras Innovator is engineered to be highly configurable—even customizable—without resulting in expensive and complex version-to-version upgrades and re-implementations.

One of PLM software leaders, Siemens PLM is also thinking about What is the best release cycle. The article speaks about SolidEdge release cycle.

A few years ago we moved from an irregular release cycle for Solid Edge, maybe 9 months in one cycle to 15 months in the next, to a regular cycle of annual releases (of course there are also maintenance packs delivered in the interim). I believe our customers much prefer this, they can plan ahead knowing that there will be a significant Solid Edge release available to them in August each year.

At the same time, the article confirms that CAD/PLM vendors are looking how to solve the problem of upgrades. As I mentioned earlier, cloud software model is one of the most promising technical ways to solve the issue of upgrades. It is true, but can be tricky in case both desktop and cloud software are involved. Here is the passage from the same Siemens PLM blog:

Working in the PLM area we try really hard to provide our customers with a good upgrade experience. PLM software is itself dependent on both the operating system and database software, and it has to work with specific releases of CAD software (sometimes with more than one CAD solution for our multi-CAD customers) and with office software as well! Moving PLM software to the cloud could potentially take some of the upgrade issues away from the end user, but PLM software does not work in isolation from your data files, or your other software and systems so I believe there is much work still to be done before the cloud really impacts the upgrade situation for real-world customers.

What is my conclusion? From customer perspective, the best option is to make release cycle completely transparent. In my view, this is really high bar for PLM vendors. Customer data migration, customization and sometimes absence of backward compatibility make release transparency questionable. However, since industry moves towards cloud software and service business model the demand for agile release management and absence of upgrades will be growing. So, my hunch, in the future we will not see "legacy software" anymore. New type of enterprise software will manage upgrades and migrations without customers paying attention. Sound like a dream? I don’t think so. For most of web and consumer software it is a reality already today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Aras, Prof. Eigner and People Lifecycle Management

July 2, 2014

plm-key-people

One of the companies I’m following on regular basis is Aras Corp. and its Aras Innovator product. Aras represents an interesting combination of business, marketing and technologies ideas. Back in 2007 Aras came with the strategy of Enterprise Open Source PLM. Since that time, Aras is consistently raising bar of Aras Innovator solutions. In one of my previous posts back into 2011, I predicted Aras lines up against Windchill, Enovia, and TeamCenter. It is hard to me to make an assessment of how close Aras is to that goal. Nevertheless, my attention caught by Aras press release – Professor Martin Eigner Joins Aras Board of Advisors:

Professor Eigner, an internationally recognized expert in PLM and model-based systems engineering, will work with Aras to build on the company’s track record of growth and global expansion, drive innovation in PLM technology, and foster a mutually beneficial, bi-directional relationship between commercial and university research. On joining the Aras Board of Advisors, Professor Eigner said, “Aras is truly unique among PLM technology providers. Their approach, technology and business model provide enterprises with the advanced capabilities they want and the flexibility they need to take full advantage of emerging business opportunities.

My hunch, Aras is following their goal to compete with big three PLM vendors. Interesting enough, Eigner PLM – the product originally acquired by Agile PLM and then by Oracle is still available today and serving customers. You can see the confirmation of that fact in SchnitgerCorp blog:

Aras announced that Dr. Martin Eigner has joined its Board of Advisors. That’s a big deal — you may recognize the name from Eigner and Partner, a PLM company sold to Agile in the early 2000s. Agile was then acquired by Oracle, but the original Eigner products continue to be supported today. At any rate, Dr. Eigner is a big “get” and Aras said he will help Aras “build on the company’s track record of growth and global expansion.

Interesting enough, Eigner PLM was already on the trajectory of competition with big PLM vendors. Another press release from 2003 speaks about 250 of Eigner PLM customers. Here ist he passage:

The addition of Eigners industry expertise in automotive supply chain, industrial machinery, aerospace and defense to Agiles capabilities in life sciences, consumer products, electronics and high technology, clearly makes the combined company a dominant player across all key discrete manufacturing verticals," said Frank Azzolino, Eigners CEO, in a statement. The acquisition of Eigner will help Agile better compete against PLM giants Parametric Technology Corp.s Windchill product and Dassault Systemes S.A.s Delmia offering.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are very conservative in the way they implement PLM systems. For many of them, the decision and evaluation is taking months and sometimes years. Once put PLM system in place, manufacturing company can run it for decade or even more. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the fact Eigner PLM is still in use 11 years after Agile acquisition. The majority of large manufacturing companies already implemented PLM system at least one time in the past. In that segment of market, PLM vendors are working on systems replacement. Previous experience is an important element to replace existing systems. I agree with Monica Schnitger – it is a big deal for Aras. In my view, Aras just took another steps towards competing with PLM leaders. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer. Aras didn’t sponsor my publication and didn’t influence in any way the content the blog post.


How to eliminate PLM customization problems?

March 28, 2014

plm-customization

I’m following strategic visions of the major PLM vendors 2014+ publication by Jim Brown – well known analyst and my blogging buddy for last few years. It started as a publication covering Autodesk, Dassault, PTC, Siemens (vendors listed alphabetically). Last week, Jim expanded his PLM vision publications by adding Aras Innovator to the list. Navigate here to read about Aras 2014+ vision. Aras is well known by their Enterprise Open Source strategy. One of the interesting differentiation I captured in Jim’s article is related to Aras’ strategy to break rules of PLM customization. Here is the passage:

Aras has decided to break the rules [of PLM customization]. They aim to become the PLM company that defies the conundrum, allowing manufacturers to customize their software and still upgrade to future releases without major disruption. They can do this because customers can update the data schema, business rules, workflows, and forms without jeopardizing the integrity of the system. How does this work? Aras’ XML-based, model-oriented approach coupled with their willingness to provide customers with the business flexibility and tools to make it feasible. Aras has effectively morphed themselves into a PLM Platform with solid core functionality with a built in ability to be extended by customers and partners. To put this strategy into action, they have told me they are “putting their money where their mouth is.” They now include upgrade services as a part of their subscription service. I haven’t seen that from anyone else anywhere, particularly while encouraging people to enhance and modify the package. This is a clear differentiator and makes Aras unique in the PLM market.

PLM customization is a tricky deal. Honestly, nobody is dreaming to make PLM implementation with zero customization effort. It all starts from flexible data modeling, which imply certain level of data customization. Time ago, I posted – Is PLM customization a data management Titanic? Earlier this year, I’ve been discussing options and reasons on How to de-customize PLM? The story of PLM customization is tightly related to PLM system flexibility data modeling. Typically, every PLM implementation contains some portion of customization that usually done by service organization and/or internal IT department. Lifecycle rules, data import, workflows, integration with other enterprise systems – this is only a very short list of customizations done during PLM deployment. Another huge aspect of customization is related to system upgrades. That one is actually mentioned by Jim Brown in his Aras’ review.

So, is there a way to solve customization problem? In my view, the answer is – it depends. In my view, you cannot eliminate specific implementation activities. Adding of new features and infrastructure technologies (eg. RDBMS) will require certain upgrade activity to happen. However, if you are selling services, the interest will be to optimize this work. Cloud vendors have similar incentive to optimize infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, otherwise operational cost will go up. So, smart technology can optimize cost and customization efforts.

What is my conclusion? Business and technology are going together. To have good business incentive to optimize technologies is always helpful and can put pressure on development organization to optimize cost of infrastructure upgrades. Service based offering (open source and cloud) are two great examples where business interests of vendors and customers are going at the same direction. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Open Source Future – Cloud Services?

February 17, 2014

plm-open-source-cloud

For the last few years, open source was one of the major disruptive factor in tech. Open source powers world’s leading tech companies. Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and many others would not exist without open source. The success of RedHat put a very optimistic business projection on the future disruption of industry by open source. Since then, we’ve seen many companies that started their business trajectory as “Red Hat of XYZ” with the objective to disrupt a particular industry segment. Many of them became very successful in what they do. However, what happened with their “open source” messages?

My attention was caught by two articles speaking about current trajectories of companies building their business model around Open Source software. Peter Levine, partner at Andreessen Horowitz started this conversation in his – Why There Will Never Be Another RedHat: The Economics Of Open Source and ReadWrite article was following TechCrunch article – Why Open Source Is Disappearing From Open Source Companies? Have a read – good articles with lots of interesting examples and data points. According to the Peter Levine, the main reasons why open source companies cannot compete successfully with their proprietary rivals are simple – money and inability to keep stabilized roadmap development. Here are two notable passages from TechCrunch:

There are many reasons why the Red Hat model doesn’t work, but its key point of failure is that the business model simply does not enable adequate funding of ongoing investments. The consequence of the model is minimal product differentiation resulting in limited pricing power and corresponding lack of revenue. As shown below, the open source support model generates a fraction of the revenue of other licensing models. For that reason it’s nearly impossible to properly invest in product development, support, or sales the way that companies like Microsoft or Oracle or Amazon can.

2013-revenues-open-source-vs-others

And if that weren’t tough enough, pure open source companies have other factors stacked against them. Product roadmaps and requirements are often left to a distributed group of developers. Unless a company employs a majority of the inventors of a particular open source project, there is a high likelihood that the project never gains traction or another company decides to create a fork of the technology. The complexities of defining and controlling a stable roadmap versus innovating quickly enough to prevent a fork is vicious and complex for small organizations.

ReadWrite article brings list of companies started as “open source” and moving now towards different messages.

In 2010, SugarCRM’s main landing page prominently advertised itself as open source. Today? Not a single mention. In February 2009, Alfresco declared itself “the open source alternative for Enterprise Content Management.” No mention of open source on the home page today. The same goes for Acquia, the Drupal company (see 2009 vs. today), and most every other significant company that sells support or software around an open-source project.

PLM industry has their list of open source companies. You can count several product today branded themselves as “PLM open source”. The most notable, Aras created innovative model called “Enterprise Open Source”. To core part of Aras was never open sourced. However, Aras developed significant community network of supporters implementing Aras Innovator software and building applications on top of Aras core platform. Aras keeps fairly large reference customer base supporting and advocating for Aras enterprise open source strategy. According to them, it brings predictable license cost model combined with open software platform, which differentiate Aras from other PLM companies.

TechCrunch article made me think what will be the future turn in development of PLM open source? Would “cloud services” become a future strategic exit for Aras and other open source PLM companies? According to Mr. Levine, SaaS and appliance business model can be a good match to Open Source projects. Here is a formula:

This recipe – combining open source with a service or appliance model – is producing staggering results across the software landscape. Cloud and SaaS adoption is accelerating at an order of magnitude faster than on-premise deployments, and open source has been the enabler of this transformation.Beyond SaaS, I would expect there to be future models for Open Source monetization, which is great for the industry.

What is my conclusion? There is no clear conclusion today. In my view, PLM industry is still waiting for big “disruption moment”. Will it come from cloud PLM alternatives, open source PLM provided as cloud services or just service projects using open source software? Time will show. It seems to me “value” and “maturity” are two main differentiations PLM companies need to focus these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


7 rules for selecting PLM software in 2014

January 17, 2014

plm-software-selection-rules

Enterprise software choice is a complex decision process. The time when you was able to buy a software from trusted XYZ vendor and sleep safe is over. These days IT and other software decision makers are facing challenges related to technological and business options related to new business models, cloud technologies, specific vendors, user experience and many others. You need to swim in a sea of changes in enterprise market in order to decide what software to choose.

Very often you can hear debates about what is Product Lifecycle Management – vision, business strategy or software. Whatever PLM means, companies and people responsible for PLM strategy and software need to make their buying decisions related to PLM software, vendor and implementation.

Last year I posted about how you can select PDM software in 5 simple steps. The last step was open ended and assumed that you need to make strategic PLM decision. Here is a quote from last year article:

"If you company is looking how to manage product development processes beyond controlling and sharing CAD (product) data, you need to evaluate PLM system. Don’t make a PDM choice without making your PLM decision first".

Today, I want to propose few rules that can help you in the decision process related to PLM software and vendor selection. It is not about how to build your overall PLM strategy – I will mostly focus on software and vendor choices.

1. Find real PLM use cases compatible with your requirements. Use trusted advisers that will help you to navigate to examples of PLM software usage. PLM software market place is opaque. There are lot of online information, analyzes, comparison and testimonials about PLM software. To make real financial, technological and product assessment of vendor is tricky. However, you should remember to buy a software that can perform according to your need.

2. Analyze your company engineering software (CAD and PDM) and enterprise environment (ERP). Regardless on grand PLM vision, you have to integrate PLM software with environment, which includes connection to CAD/PDM, interoperability with ERP system(s) as well as many other design, engineering and manufacturing system coming from other vendors including homegrown software developed by IT department and contractors.

3. Don’t buy immediate technological advantages. For most of PLM systems, technologies doesn’t change much for the last 10-15 years. Even if PLM software vendor claims some technological uniqueness today, it will be adjusted in 2-3 years by new development, another new technologies and technological acquisitions PLM vendors are making. If you want to make some tech-driven decision, do it ‘test based’ for a specific use case and/or process in your company.

4. Cloud PLM is first about software eco-system and IT strategy. Cloud can bring lots of advantages. However, if your company is still on premise and IT is conservative, think carefully before pushing into cloud PLM race. You can burn time and resource on convincing your company and solving "general cloud software obstacles" before getting PLM value pay off.

5. PLM usability is relative. Everybody wants (and claims) to be easy to use like Google these days. However, devil is in details and enterprise software is different from consumer web. Also, what looks simple for you will be different for your colleague. Test by yourself, but don’t underestimate software evaluation by people outside of IT ecosystem. There are few books and online resources for UX (user experience) passionate people – try them out. Start from Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think – it will help you to build a sense of simplicity and own guidance.

6. Don’t buy PLM vendor roadmaps. Most of roadmaps are aspirational. You must look on available software releases and community of users. Community will give you an indication of how careful vendor is following their roadmaps, promises and (mostly important) long term software compatibilities.

7. Open source software isn’t much different from functional and technological standpoint. Open source software is not cheaper and simpler – it is just a different business model. There are variety of open-source flavors and you need to read all legal provisions. Involve your legal advisers to help you to go through language and meaning.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM software domain will be turbulent in 2014. New companies, technologies and business models are coming to disrupt and change existing industry landscape. However, your PLM software buying decision will probably stay with you more than 1-2 years. So, my recommendation is to review available software, make trials, experiment and build use cases. These days software vendors are open to convert customers into their trusted advisers. Don’t afraid to be a part of the PLM vendors’ development process and decision making. In most of cases, it is fun and you will love it. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future battle for PLM upfront cost

November 5, 2013

PLM-zero-upfront-cost

Transformation of business models is one of the most important trends that happens today in the industry. Take a deep breath… it doesn’t mean companies don’t want to be compensated for the work they do. These days it is just about how to define the right business model that reflecting the relationships between all participants in the business.

The last tsunami related to the software price happened after recent announcement of Apple to make lot of their software including their OSX free. Over the weekend, I’ve been reading Forbes article – The Upfront Software Price is Now Free. Read the article and draw your conclusion. Even if the majority of the focus is related to what happens between major software giants – Microsoft, Apple and Google, in my view, it will have an impact on enterprise software too. The following passage is important.

With software being distributed either as web applications or through models that required a connection to the internet, software gained the ability to be distributed on a subscription basis or subsidized through advertising. Over the past few years, application software has increasingly moved to an initial price point that edges closer to zero on a consistent basis.

It made me think that changes of distribution model can be an additional driver to transform them way PLM (and other enterprise software) will be distributed and licensed.

The discussion about PLM software price, licenses and total cost of ownership is not new. First time I raised the question about coming business model transformation on my blog back in 2009 – Is Free the future of PLM? Since that time, the discussion went in different directions. You probably remember the Future PLM business models panel discussion I moderated during PLM Innovation 2012 in Munich. Another post, which is actually very co-sound with the idea of transformation as a result of changes in distribution model – PLM Cloud and Software licensing transformation.

However, in addition to cloud, SaaS and Web, there is another driving force behind changing PLM software business model. It is open source. Take a look here – PLM: Open Source vs. Free. In my view, open source is another powerful opportunity to change PLM business model status quo. In PLM business, Aras Corp. is driving this change since 2007 by promoting a very unique "Enterprise Open Source" model. Navigate to another article just published on Aras website – PLM Licensing is so Old School. Here is an interesting passage:

If your PLM software deployment gains wide-spread adoption (a goal of every successful PLM implementation), you will need to purchase more licenses. PLM license expenses can be huge up-front, but broad, global roll-outs are where the costs absolutely skyrocket. Effectively, the PLM project becomes a victim of its own success.

The last point about PLM upfront licenses preventing wider adoption of PLM software in the organization is interesting. PLM vendors are looking towards how to make PLM products available downstream in manufacturing organizations as well as in the supply chain. The high end-user cost is clearly not helping to make this dream come true.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM cost future trajectory is going towards "usage" and not "upfront cost". It is true in other places, but for PLM it can be a significant change that energize future increase in PLM software adoption and… consumption. It will be driven by major factors such as internet distribution channels as well as open source and service engagements. I don’t see big difference here – both strategies basically removes upfront cost and focus on usage. The changes are unavoidable. Business transformation train left the station. It is just a question of time. In my view, all PLM vendors are actively researching what does it mean for their current businesses and how to act (or react). Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why you still cannot sell PLM without exec support?

August 6, 2013

There are variety definitions of what is PLM. Not much agreement about that among PLM vendors, PLM analysts and manufacturing companies. However, if you want to introduce PLM in manufacturing company, you can find majority of people to agree that implementing PLM takes time and includes some strategy planning, implementation and patience. My PLM industry colleague and blogging buddy Jos Voskuil calls it PLM journey. One of the things that often comes during PLM journeys is to have C-level support during PLM sales and implementation.

Aras Corp. recently featured the issue of C-level management support for PLM in their blog – Executive Support for PLM and Why You Need It. I captured few interesting quotes from that post:

Executive support is a crucial part of the PLM selection, implementation and acceptance processes that often gets overlooked. Having executives back a PLM initiative not only shows that the software is here to stay, it also ensures resources, and brings executive insight into the business model and processes to the project.

PLM is not a one-year solution; it’s a long term decision and the results have to be measured over time. For example, are your product development cycles still improving 3 years later? ROI has no expiration date. Including the long term impact of PLM in your business case could be the key to getting much-needed executive support.

In my view, these messages are capturing very well the essence of what called "PLM business transformation" process. You cannot sell and implement PLM without having PLM implementation champion in a company as well as execs giving their buy-ins to the project. It represents what I called enterprise sales old schoolers in one of my previous blog post. However, I’d like to put some controversy in this PLM journey nirvana. It would be great for business to have time to choose their PLM journey road with enough time for discussing, planning and implementing. It should be also good to have unlimited resources to spend in PLM journey. However, this is probably not going to happen these days and for visible future for most of companies I know. Businesses are very dynamic these days and driven by lots of unpredictable business factors, cost constraints, competition and regulation. It applies a new perspective on how companies will treat PLM in the future. And, it will drive even more attention from executives in the companies.

What is my conclusion? Regardless on what PLM implementation strategy you choose these days, to have exec support for your PLM project is a good thing. When it comes to redefining how is you company develop and manufacturing products, you want to have some C-level support people to backup your PLM strategy. In the modern dynamic business environment to have execs on board of your PLM implementation is even more important. Nowadays, you don’t have 5 years to manage your PLM journey project. Your PLM journey becomes PLM sprints with execs serves as supporters and judges at the same time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Multiple Facets of PLM Search

June 6, 2013

Disclosure: As a co-founder of Inforbix and responsible of PLM 360 and Autodesk Vault product development at at Autodesk, I understand that my opinion about PLM Search can be unintentionally biased. Nevertheless, I believe the topic itself is very important, so I decided to share the information and my opinion anyway.

Search is a fascinating topic. Last 10 years changed our understanding about what search can do. Google clearly made a revolution in search and made a revolution in people’s mind about what search can do. Enterprise software companies, in general, and CAD / PLM vendors specifically started to pay attention to search for the last 3-5 years. Getting back you can recall Microsoft / FAST, Oracle / Endeca, Dassault Systems / Exalead, Autodesk / Inforbix and some other events.

Couple of weeks ago, I’ve been talking about PLM Search and Findability. Product development content is complex and semantically rich. In many cases, it leads to the situations where person doesn’t even know what to search and where to search. Another very important topic connected to search is data reuse. Navigate to my previous post here to read more. In my view, search is one of the fundamental mechanisms that can simplify data re-use by allowing to find data and eliminate re-entering of data between different application silos.

I’m following different implementations of PLM search. Today I want to highlight three examples of different approaches on PLM search – Siemens PLM Active Workspace, Autodesk PLM360 search and Aras/Alcove9 search.

Active Workspace – complexity and visual experience

Siemens PLM came with Active Workspace last year. The complexity of existing PLM implementations raises the question of usability of PLM system. I’m sure you remember my post – Who will provide PLM for Boeing in 2015? Active Workspace is Siemens PLM answer to complexity of user experience.

PLM 360 search – cloud and Google-like approach

Autodesk PLM360 is taking cloud approach to search to solve problem of information connectivity and reuse. PLM 360 search allows to search in PLM environment as well as in files sources located on shared network drives and local discs. By doing that, PLM 360 search enable ease of information discovery from the cloud regardless of where this information is located.

Aras Search – open source and existing UI paradigm

Aras PLM is following their open source strategy and partnering with Alcove9 to provide open source search approach. Alcove9 leverage Lucene and Solr to provide search solution. To simplify the use of search, Aras is embedding search in existing Aras UI.

What is my conclusion? PLM vendors will continue to innovate in search. Consumerization trend creates a significant pressure on IT department to provide a better experience for information workers. To get access to the right information at the right time is a reality of every product development organization these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Open Source is Better Without Open Source

January 2, 2013

Open source is one of the PLM trends I covered in the past in my blog. I wanted to come back to this topic again. The title of my blog post was half stolen from the article on opensource.comOpen source software policy is better without open source. Read the article and made your own conclusion. The following passage is my favorite:

When the OMB and DOD declared open source software to be "commercial software," it wasn’t a bureaucratic trick to legitimize open source. They meant it quite literally: software is software, and whether it was developed by open source, a proprietary company, or a team of monkeys, all the same rules apply.

Open source software introduced lots of changes in the way software developed for the last 10 years. If I recall open source software policies used by the company I worked for a decade ago, it was completely different back that days. The biggest problem of manufacturing companies (and other enterprises) to deal with open source is trustful support contacts. Here is another passage from the same opensource.com artcile:

The underlying concern (beyondplm: about support), though, is valid. Unsupported software presents a risk. Poor support is almost worse—think of the hours we’ve all wasted with an unqualified or unresponsive support operation. This isn’t specific to open source. Bad support is bad support, no matter how the software was developed.

Aras PLM, the company experimenting with open source and PLM was on my monitor for the last 5 years. Aras developed their business strategy around so-called Enterprise Open Source. The definition itself is not self-explaining. One of a few "smaller PLM vendors" staying alone and independent since early 2000s, Aras’ experiments overall are quite interesting. Making some research on Aras website, I found it presents little to none mentioning of "open source" terms at least from home page.

What is my conclusion? Aras enterprise open source is an innovation in PLM licenses and business models. The discussion about "true" open source definition I’ve seen in the past is probably irrelevant in case of PLM. I’ve seen little to none interest of manufacturing companies to modify existing software code. Opposite to that, I’ve seen lots of interest to develop on top of the software platform with predictable licensing model. The development of new business models is one of the most complicated areas enterprise software is going to discover coming years. Enterprise open source, free software, software-as-a-service (SaaS) – here are just few examples of different approaches in this space. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit opensource.com article


PLM Cloud Interest and AAA PLM Players

October 29, 2012

The interest to cloud PLM is growing these days. At the beginning of this year, I discussed future PLM business model during the PLM Innovation conference in Munich. You can navigate to my historical post here. You can see lots of conversations about cloud these days. However, until now, only one from major PLM players – Dassault, was playing cloud game. As it was mentioned by Bernard Charles during DSCC 2011 event, Dassault invested 2B into building of the unique online cloud platform. This is not true any more. Earlier last week, Siemens PLM announced the availability of TeamCenter on the cloud. Navigate here to read Siemens PLM announcement. According to Siemens PLM:

Teamcenter on the cloud enables companies to move some, or all, of their computing infrastructure to a third-party cloud service provider versus investing in their own hardware. This gives customers cost effective access to enterprise grade IT infrastructure and resources without the need for capital expenditure. Siemens now supports Teamcenter on three of the leading cloud services, Microsoft Windows Azure, IBM SmartCloud™ Enterprise+ and Amazon Web Services. The company has completed a certification and enablement program for Teamcenter delivered on each of these service provider’s IaaS offerings.

I found an interesting writeup about TeamCenter on the cloud made by PJ of TEC. Navigate to this link to read -Siemens Teamcenter Going to the PLM Cloud. PJ is analyzing what is behind TeamCenter cloud announcement. This is an important passage, in my view, which explains that:

While the benefits such as faster time to value, dynamic scalability, and lower TCO are indisputable, this is just the typical first cloud-enabling step of moving the infrastructure to the cloud. Certainly, there is also the benefit from accessing the PLM system from the Internet, and at the analyst event, we also saw a demo of a mobile user interface (UI) in the cloud. But our understanding was that Siemens is not yet going to provide a subscription model or a multitenant cloud.

At the same time, PJ concludes that despite cloud announcement, TeamCenter is not adopting ‘cloud PLM’ business by moving towards subscription model. I didn’t find any mentioning of subscription prices as well as information about future announcement. Siemens PLM press release mentioned only “business flexibility”, as was mentioned by TeamCenter cheif Eric Sterling. Here is the quote:

“The key benefit of Teamcenter on the cloud is the business flexibility it provides,” said Eric Sterling, Senior Vice President, Lifecycle Collaboration Software, Siemens PLM Software. “In today’s ever changing global landscape, the flexibility to dynamically manage infrastructure on the cloud gives customers the ability to scale up computing resources with demand and more importantly, scale down costs if demand decreases. This enables organizations to effectively manage IT budgets as an operating expense versus capital expense which can improve profitability.

AAA PLM?

I learned an interesting term in PJ’s article – “Triple A” PLM players. As I mentioned in my earlier article, Open Source and subscription-based model used by cloud PLM apps are two major PLM business disruption forces. PJ summarized it by calling three vendors – Aras, Arena Solutions and Autodesk PLM (AAA):

Siemens acknowledged that its main interest is still the perpetual license play. The vendor admitted that the so-called Triple A PLM players—Arena Solutions, Aras Corp., and Autodesk 360 PLM— are disruptive forces in terms of PLM deployment and licensing. Siemens pledged to be responsive to the market—i.e., it is constantly reviewing its practices—but everything needs to be good for both the vendor and its customers. Term-based licenses and Siemens Finance Services were suggested as possible options in the meantime.

PLM cloud awareness

I usually do my “reality check” on Google trends. You can see that now “PLM cloud” is now a visible trend. At least, you can see it on Google’s trends, which confirms the growing cloud interest from players and customers in engineering and manufacturing space. Even it is not saying much to prove the adoption and customer experience with cloud PLM, it is a confirmation of the trend and strategic direction.

plm-cloud-google-trend.png

What about PTC / Windchill?

After TeamCenter cloud announcement, PTC Windchill is the only product (vendor) that didn’t refresh their interest in a cloud PLM play. Windchill has long time an agreement with IBM about hosting of Windchill on IBM servers. You can see this offering is available here, but I PTC didn’t provide any recent updates about that offering as well as a preview about future availability of Windchill on the cloud. You can only see IBM application on demand delivery model here.

What is my conclusion? In my view, customers are starting to recognize the value of the cloud technologies for PLM. It comes in multiple aspects – IT infrastructure optimization, business models allowing to pay for services as you need them, global access and many others. It would be interesting to see how cloud technologies and product offering will be developed by PLM vendors in coming years.

Best, Oleg


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