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


More cloud PLM from Oracle and Aras. Are we in cloud rush?

December 10, 2014

plm-plug-in-cloud1

Cloud PLM is a trending topic among software vendors these days. As I mentioned earlier in my post, the question these days is not why should we do cloud PLM, but “how” to make it happen. PLM vendors are choosing different strategies and technologies for their cloud PLM solutions.

My attention was caught by two updates that came almost at the same time from Oracle and Aras. Both are related to cloud technologies and offerings.

Oracle blog article – How Oracle’s New PLM Cloud Solutions Help you Compete More Effectively speaks about Oracle PVC (product value chain) cloud, which contains there main cloud offering – product innovation cloud, product development cloud and oracle product hub cloud. The following passage explains it in details:

Start with one idea – or thousands. Select the best ideas that match product requirements using Oracle Innovation Management Cloud. Next, use the Oracle Product Development Cloud to classify and manage all the product’s components and manage costs and supply risk. The Oracle Social Network is included, so you can start conversations, find solutions, and make decisions fast. You’ll also have access to live infotiles, which provide the analytics you need to see when your product is ready for launch.When your product is ready to go, the Oracle Product Hub Cloud provides a single, protected view of your distribution, supplier, and channel partners. You can synchronize your commercialization network and launch new products on target.

oracle-pvc-cloud

The picture above gives you a visual impression. It interesting how magic word “cloud” added to every activity type that previously was just “management”. At the same time, we can see how Oracle product offering transformed. Navigate here to get more information about product service cost.

TenLinks article Aras Releases Microsoft Azure Certified Cloud PLM Suite is a second news in the domain of cloud PLM. Aras Corp was following their enterprise open source concept since 2007 is expanding and became available as cloud offering too.

aras-azure-cloud

The following passage highlight the advantage of cloud offering for global companies with the need to get fast ROI from PLM implementation.

Certified version of the Aras Innovator enterprise PLM solution in the Azure virtual machine gallery of cloud applications in the Azure Marketplace. The new Aras offering is ideal for global companies with an Azure account that need to quickly deploy a full PLM suite for the supply chain, joint ventures, fast moving product lines and other applications.

What is really interesting is to get more information about how many manufacturing global companies have Azure account. I wasn’t able to find this information. My hunch, Microsoft is actively focusing on large enterprises with cloud offerings.

Azure page with Aras offering is proposing to create virtual machine with Aras Innovator PLM suite 10. However, the information about pricing is somewhat confusing. Instead of almost traditional /per user /per month cost, it provides “computing cost” information. However, link “free trial” hints me that customers can do it for free at the beginning. More information is here.

What is my conclusion? It is fascinating to see how software vendors are shifting gears to leverage cloud technologies and change business models. Efficiency, competition, cost. These are things that absolutely important to manufacturing companies these days. Cloud PLM can be a technology and tool that will help customer to make it happen. PLM vendors are trying to turn cloud into their advantage. The technologies both Aras and Oracle are using are clearly different, but the underlining trend is clear. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


DIY Cloud PLM using Aras Innovator

November 14, 2014

diy-cloud-plm

I’m continue to explore the topic of cloud PLM options. My last blog post about it covered delivery options for cloud PLM. It raised few interesting discussions showing that vendors are closely following up any opportunity to leverage a combination of existing PLM platforms and cloud infrastructure. IaaS is a technical buzzword behind this option. It researched by many PLM vendors. I discussed one of them in my Azure Cloud Box blog post.

Today, I want to speak about another option. My attention caught Minerva blog post – Tutorial : How to start an Amazon EC2 cloud server all prepared to install Aras Innovator! It provides step by step instruction how to make your first step in cloud PLM strategy. As I mentioned many times, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is remaining one of the most widely used option to deliver IaaS strategy. If your cloud PLM vision is mostly focused on how to reduce a burden of IT and infrastructure, you may consider "Do It Yourself" cloud option by deploying your existing PLM system to Amazon based servers. The following passage below says it is sometimes tricky to install Aras, but if you will follow steps explained in this blog, in 1 hour you will have Aras running from AWS cloud.

The Aras Innovator install is still extremely simple. Of course I say that because I already tried to install other solutions and I went in some training for other solutions and it has always been a disaster to uninstall these. The first day, you spend it installing the solution, the day after you copy the virtual machine of another trainee as it failed… This doesn’t happen in an Aras training. But Aras Install can fail sometimes, it always rely on your windows server and IIS configuration. But as long as you follow the tutorial you should be just fine. In less than 1 hour you should have Aras Innovator Up&Running starting from scratch!

The idea of Aras on AWS made me think again about IaaS approach in cloud PLM. The biggest advantage – you can get rid of infrastructure and IT by moving to Amazon. Aras Innovator is an interesting option. If you opt out Aras subscription and limit yourself to Aras enterprise open source, the cost of solution will be equal to your Amazon bill. Of course, I’m not counting implementation cost and cost to handle Amazon servers. It can give you some idea about fundamentals of cloud PLM economic related to potential of infrastructure sharing and servers utilization.

What is my conclusion? In the past, I’ve been discussing "DIY PLM option" by combining Excel spreadsheets, email and multiplying it by some database development skills. That was DIY PLM circa 1995. These days, cloud PLM also has its DIY option – to reuse existing PLM software from IaaS based cloud servers. This is a very real option you can explore to learn about benefits and pitfalls of cloud PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PDM & PLM UI Makeup: new trend in user experience

November 12, 2014

old-UI

User experience is in focus these days. Slowly, but surely enterprise software companies are coming to the point of understanding how important is that. It is not about changing of colors and making buttons nicer. It is about how to get a major revamp in behavior of software or how often we call these days – user experience. I’ve been following this trend since my very early posts. I want to mention few of them you may consider to review again – PUI: Not PLM UI. Future User Experience and 5 NOs to make PLM usable. I want also to refer you to the article in UX MagazineOverhauling a UI Without Upsetting Current Users. My favorite passage is related to differences between aesthetic and functional improvements.

A redesigned UI that looks pretty but fails to deliver new value will not only disappoint new users but will also alienate existing, previously satisfied users, and the news of this failure will spread rapidly. Never make the mistake of thinking that a product’s aesthetic is the same as the product’s actual experience.

My attention was caught by SolidWorks blog speaking about redesigned web client for widely popular SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Web2 for SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM is a brand new web client for both desktop and mobile platforms. This new web client enables fast file searching and browsing, easy navigation, and access to all common functions like Where Used, Contains, Check-in and Check-out, and Change State. It is also easy to upload and download files for remote workers to interact with the vault and your design projects.

SolidWorks blog made think about actually a whole trend of UI redesigns for PDM / PLM products for the last year. I’ve made few Google searches and want to come with examples.

Autodesk Vault Thin (web) client’s new look was delivered as part of Autodesk Vault Professional 2014. Navigate here to get more info. The following description and video can give you an idea of that.

The new Autodesk Vault Thin Client 2014 has been completely redesigned to provide a superior experience when accessing a Vault through a web browser. The redesign includes Enhanced user interfaces, Customizable view functionalities, New BOM interface, and Enhanced report printing.

Earlier this year, Aras Corp came with new Aras Innovator 10 version delivering long awaited new web client. Navigate to the following link to get more information and read Aras press release. Here is a short snippet to summary UI changes.

The latest open release provides a new level of PLM platform scalability for enterprises with global supply chains, and introduces an HTML5 browser interface which redefines usability making PLM more accessible for business users. Aras Innovator 10 introduces an HTML5 browser interface with a clean, modern design. The release is technology focused with Firefox browser support, the item on our Roadmap that has received the most votes ever, and includes inputs from ECCO, GE, MAN and others.

Aras-10-UI

Another example came from recently announced update of Autodesk PLM360. Design & Motion blog post by Scott Moyse does a great job outlining UI changes:

When PLM 360 was launch in late February 2012, the web technology used within the user interface was circa 2008 & 2009. In web terms that’s quite old, although nothing like the 20-30 year old technology used by some of their competitors. As a result the Autodesk team believed they could do a lot better to redefine the User Experience. With these upcoming changes, the development team have leveraged the most modern HTML 5 & AngularJS web frameworks, to provide a rich speedy interface. The website now behaves much more like a desktop application with respect to response times from user interaction.

plm360-html5-UI

What is my conclusion? I guess nobody wants to work with application like you can see on the first picture above. PDM and PLM vendors are clearly recognized the trend towards improvements of user experience and user interface. It confirmed by multiple projects in that space and acknowledged by many customers. New generation of users is coming and the demand to deliver modern consumer level user experience in enterprise software tool is the reality of today. The danger here is to come with polished user interface without re-thinking actual product experience for end user. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit.


How to build online community around CAD/PLM software?

October 13, 2014

community-engineers-CAD-PLM

There is one thing that seems make everyone interested and listen carefully these days – online communities. To build a successful community is a tricky thing. To make a money out of community is huge. Successful online communities can provide a lot of insight about how people are communicating, what is the value of community for different users and businesses. Communities are also a good reflection of business and software vendor ecosystem.

I’ve been discussing communities and marketplaces earlier on my blog. One of the most earliest discussion about that was Marketplace and Engineering software back in 2010. The interest of people to stay in the community is one of the most interesting factors to watch and learn. What will keep users to stay in the community and how to make it grow? Some of my earlier thoughts about that is here – PLM communities and let go threshold.

Online activity is a good indicator of community potential. I’ve been using blogging community as one of my own checkpoint about potential of users and customers to form a successful online community. Go online and try to find number of blogs about specific topic and their traffic. Do it for well-known MCAD packages (CATIA, Creo , Inventor, NX, SolidEdge, SolidWorks) as well as for PDM/PLM products. Google is of course not the best reflection of community size and activities. But it can give you some idea anyway.

CAD-PLM-communities-google-trends

Another interesting observation is related to how customers are sharing their knowledge. You can see very different behavior models. One of them is practically – share everything. This model is creating high viral content online. For this group it is not unusual to see how users are sharing their best practices and problems. Another group is conservative and closed. It is hard to get people to speak about this software. Most of information about it is curated either by software vendors and customers.

So, what are examples of successful in creating CAD/PLM communities? I can come with few examples. The list below is alphabetically sorted and I’m sure miss few communities (so, please don’t hesitate to suggest me additions to this group)

Aras. Back in 2007, Aras Corp. turned their Aras Innovator PLM product into so called “Enterprise Open Source”. This community demonstrated steady growth and I can see lots of information about Aras customers, open roadmap and open source development.

AutoCAD. The community of AutoCAD is big and reflect wide spread of this package in a very diverse set of verticals. I can see some association with community of users working with DWG. However, these users have the tendency to follow specific CAD packages developed around DWG formats.

GrabCAD. This is an interesting example of 1M+ engineers sharing 3D CAD models and related work online. GrabCAD website contains about 400K CAD models and this is probably one of the biggest in this kind.

SolidWorks. The community of SolidWorks is not a typical online (web) community. It was created around SolidWorks software back in before-web days. Nevertheless, this community demonstrated very high engagement level and shared lot of their work online in for the last 10+ years.

I guess “one million dollar question” is how to create a successful online engineering community. One of the myths of engineering world is that engineers are representing very anti-social group of people. The CreativeEngineer blog – A Few Common Myths About Engineers is actually bringing some opposite facts.

If you are thinking of being an engineer, you need to think of yourself as a leader, not a cubicle dwelling, anti-social, door mat. Here’s an except from Geoffrey C. Orsak, Dean of Engineering, SMU: In today’s reality, engineers are the new leadership class. Don’t believe me? Well, consider a recent survey of the S&P 500 CEOs by the global executive search firm SpencerStuart. Of these 500 key corporate leaders, nearly a quarter (23%) were educated as engineers and computer scientists.

So, is there an opportunity to create a larger community for engineers and users of CAD / PLM software? I guess the answer is yes. The shift towards online work is in a very beginning. My hunch existing engineering communities were just a beginning of future online working environment. The real community can be build around economic or social interest. In my view, the center of gravity will be moving from a specific CAD/PLM software towards companies and individuals. Internet is a new platform and community is a form to run business relationships on this platform.

What is my conclusion? Think about existing online communities: shoppers, open source software developers, education and many others. Try to make an analogy with manufacturing world. The economic and social interest is driving the most successful ones. I guess we just in the beginning of huge shift of engineering and manufacturing community towards online work. Economic interest will lead people to find new forms of business relationships and create new forms of CAD/PLM communities. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg


How PLM vendors will develop next security technologies

September 22, 2014

future-security-tech

The world is a scare place today. Every day we hear about different security problems – very large retail network informed me that their payment system was breached; large organization informes that customer databases with account information leaked, proprietary photos of celebrities available for general public, credit card numbers compromised. You can continue this list…

If you are responsible for IT organization, you should be scary to death. Think about engineering and manufacturing organization. How can you insure the protection of sensitive information assets? The time when a potential solution was just to cut a network cable into engineering working room is probably in the past. Even if you do that, mobile devices, global environment and need for supply chain access will simply put your effort in a trash can. EBNonline published a very interesting infographic called – The iPhone 6 Saga. It presents Apple’s global supply chain. I have no specific information about how Apple support security in their engineering, manufacturing and supply chains systems. What is clear – security is not optional there.

Security is well known topic in PLM community. Manufacturing companies are afraid of IP leaks for their most important intellectual assets. The question about how to protect data is on the top of the list when you evaluate PLM system. Introducing of cloud technologies and cloud PLM systems just raised the sense of urgency towards protecting highly sensible engineering and manufacturing assets.

Security of information in PLM system is multi-dimensional problem.. These days vendors are very vocal about their commitment to insure information is secured. It is easy to find this information available from vendors’ website and published white papers. A very simple Google search for “PLM security” returned a bunch of documents from Aras, Autodesk PLM360, Dassault Systems,  Siemens PLM, Oracle Agile PLM and few others. Take a look on links and draw your opinion.

It made me think, security management is not a topic that can be covered by one vendor. In modern manufacturing world, you hardly can find a company that using engineering, data management and manufacturing software from a single software vendor. The situation won’t be different in a future. It means manufacturing companies will have to insure security of sensitive IP. My hunch, software vendors will have to talk to develop future security technologies and systems together.

My attention caught THEINQUIRER article Google, Dropbox and others launch Simply Secure to ensure open security. Simply Secure is an organization that aims to work on how to solve the problem of security in an open source community.

A collection of firms and internet thinkers have gathered under a Simply Secure banner and promised to make security and privacy tools that protect and serve. Google and Dropbox are players in the Simply Secure support group and are joined by the Open Technology Fund. Together they all hope to address web users’ concerns about their content and connections. “Internet software links us to our friends, allows us to transact across oceans, and forms a digital space for culture and society. Because these technologies provide forums for sensitive discourse and expression, we are all concerned about their security and privacy.

The world of product lifecycle management is very competitive. Vendors are in a constant search how to differentiate their solution. However, security technology is a thing that can benefit a community of customers to adopt technologies and to work together. Modern enterprise software is quickly adopting best technological practices and tools coming from open source and web world. Security best practice can be next place where adopting of some industry and open source standards can be beneficial.

What is my conclusion? Security is a big deal. By developing future security technologies and adopting some well known best practices, PLM vendors can raise the bar for how they can protect customers from security breaches. The world around us is highly connected these days. To solve security problems is not an optional thing. It impacts every company in modern global manufacturing world.

Best, Oleg


What cloud PLM cannot do for you?

September 19, 2014

no-cloud-magic-plm

It has been already few years since I started to discuss cloud PLM opportunities on my blog. I found one of my early blogs about PLM and cloud – PLM and cloud: hold the promise?

So, what changed since then? Actually, quite a lot… We’ve seen massive adoption of cloud and mobile by businesses in many domains. PLM cloud adoption is growing too. Cloud is on the roadmap of all PLM vendors. It is really a question of "how to implement cloud?" rather than a question of "do we need to support cloud"? We also seen few very interesting examples of cloud applications in CAD/PLM space. I want just to mention few of them – Autodesk design tool Autodesk Fusion360, Dassault SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual, Autodesk PLM360. Siemens PLM made their TeamCenter PLM available from IaaS infrastructure. Aras announced cloud strategy and introduced cloud product available via partnership with Infor ERP – Infor PLM Innovator. Cloud PLM pioneers, Arena Solutions, introduced several new cloud tools (BOM control and Quality management). Last but not least, GrabCAD, an open community of mechanical engineers released cloud PDM tool – GrabCAD Workbench. Earlier this week, GrabCAD was acquired by 3D printing company Stratasys. According to TechCrunch, article the deal was around $100M. I’m sure missed few products and companies…

Here are things that I discussed back in 2010 – cost of the solution, delivery model, global access, faster implementation, scaling. We learned a lot of about PLM and cloud for the last four years. Today, I want to make a reality check for list of things I discussed before in lights of what cloud PLM can or cannot do.

1- Cost

Cloud PLM made a mental switch in everything we knew about PLM before. According to Engineering.com article, cloud affected negatively on-premise PLM market. Cloud PLM created expectations for alternative pricing models and pushed all vendors to think how to turn PLM into service offering. Today, you can buy cloud PLM subscription with no upfront cost and hardware investment, which is a very good thing. However, I don’t think, total cost of ownership is different if you will calculate it on the period of 5 years. I’d love to see and learn more about that and love if you can share your comments.

2- Deployment, scale and IT

One of the best thing delivered by cloud PLM is related to deployment and IT cost. You can buy and deploy it instantly – almost similar to how you can open a new Gmail account. As a customer, you don’t need to worry about servers, setup cost, ordering hardware. You don’t need to negotiate with IT installation time. However, you cannot eliminate IT completely, especially if you are large company. For most of situations, you will have to discuss and make an alignment with IT about issues related to security and information access.

3- Faster Implementation

So, you can buy cloud PLM without upfront cost, you can deploy it overnight. What about PLM implementation? Implementation is an interesting thing. I’d like to speak about two aspects of implementations – 1/Configuration and customization; 2/ Implementations of business processes.

Four years ago, many companies were concerned about capability of web/cloud applications to deliver the level of flexibility, customization and configurations similar to on-premise PLM deployments. It is true, for most of situations, you cannot hack your cloud PLM with simple SQL script. However, I think, the flexibility of cloud PLM tools today is similar to on-premise PLM systems. However, flexibility of cloud PLM tools cannot provide real advantages compared to on-premise tools. Thanks for virtualization and modern collaboration technologies you can run your implementation remotely also for on-premise PLM systems.

Implementation of business processes is an interesting aspect of PLM implementation. In practice it means to define data structures and business processes. Cloud PLM won’t provide any advantages here. It is all about people, processes and organizational changes. So, the ugly truth is that cloud PLM won’t reduce your need of implementation services. In case of on-premise PLM, implementation will be done on site and collaborate with IT – installing, configuring and debugging customized software. In case of cloud PLM, you will need to work with cloud PLM vendor or hosting provider.

What is my conclusion? Cloud computing changed a lot in our life. PLM on the cloud can do many things differently. With much lower upfront cost and simple deployment, it opens PLM doors for many companies that never thought can buy and implement PLM systems before. However, when it comes to implementation and services, cloud PLM won’t do much different from on-premise PLM systems. You still need to implement it. It will require business process planning and implementation cost. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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