How to prevent cloud PLM integration mistakes

February 2, 2015

connected-plm-erp

Cloud is huge enabler for collaboration between people. It makes your data and processes accessible everywhere from a browser. It can help you to collaborate between engineers and suppliers. It can help you to integrate systems and people across enterprise.

Let me speak about the last one. The integration topic is actually tricky. I’ve been sharing some of my thoughts about cloud integration challenges – Integration is holding back PLM cloud adoption few months ago. Last week, I had a chance to attend two webinars about PLM and integration.

Become a Connected Manufacturing Enterprise with Agile Integration by Jitterbit. The following picture gives you a perspective on a problem of “connected manufacturing” and architecture solutions like Autodesk PLM360 and Jitterbit are solving this problem.

plm360-jitterbit-1

Here is the view that shows you the reality of mixed (cloud and on-premise) integrations.

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Another webinar by CIMdata – “PLM & ERP: What’s the Difference, and Why Should you Care?” is providing another perspective on integration challenges between engineering an manufacturing.

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Companies are moving into mixed cloud and on premise environment. This is a reality and we cannot avoid it. So, for a foreseeable future, we will have to deal with integration of multiple systems – some of them will continue to run on premises and some of them will be elsewhere (public cloud). It made me think about potential mistakes you can run into while integrating systems.

1- Lost data semantics

Most of integration scenarios are about how to send data back and forth between systems. It is hard to keep semantics of data and not to loose it when exchanging information. So, define what data means and keep an overall integration data schema. Otherwise, the result can be messy.

2- Data transfer limitation

Although some of integration infrastructure can allow you to implement data exchange quickly, you can underestimate the bandwidth requirements. Sending large packets of data can cause significant latency and create runtime errors and problems. Check what monitoring tools are available to handle such situations.

3- Transaction management

Most of manufacturing systems are sensitive to transactions. To manage distributed transactions can be tricky and require some fine tuning. Pay attention on how you handle error processing when integrating transaction system managing ordering, lifecycle and bill of materials.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of integration is growing. Cloud systems are bringing many advantages, but will create additional challenges to IT and professional services. Most of integrations are not working out of the box. New tools running from the cloud can help you to integrate it faster, but it will require good coordination with IT and planning upfront to prevent potential mistakes. Data integration is hard and requires experience and familiarity with manufacturing systems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: freefotouk via photopin cc


Can BOX become a platform for PLM?

January 20, 2015

box-collaboration

Platform is a topic, which comes quite often in the discussion about future of PLM. CIMdata recently came with a topic of “platformization” in PLM. You can catch up on the discussion – A CIMdata dossier: PLM platformization. I can probably divide all existing PLM platforms into two groups – 2D/3D design platform and Object Database Modeling platform. Last year, I charted some of possible options for a foundation of future PLM platform – System Engineering, 2D/3D services, product development standards, New database technologies. From another standpoint, the debates about future PLM platforms are often raising a question of single vs. federated platform for PLM.

New technological trends and demands of customers can bring new platforms into PLM world. One of them is cloud storage. I touched cloud storage topic in my article – CAD companies and cloud storage strategies. One of the points was related to longevity of “cloud storage” business. Cloud companies want to store your data. It gives them an opportunity to understand your business better. However, the prediction is that cloud storage cost is eventually coming to zero. Which leaves cloud companies with the need to develop solutions to elevate productivity and improve collaboration and document creation. This is where it comes to PLM as a future platform for product innovation.

BOX is a company which is located at the intersection of cloud storage and enterprise business. My attention was caught by BI article – In One Slide, Box Explains What Everybody’s Getting Wrong About The Company. Here is the slide:

box-enterprise-platform

Here is an interesting passage and conclusion from the article:

In an interview with Business Insider, Box CEO Aaron Levie said he knew storage business was going to turn into a commodity business back when he first started the company. Instead, he said he’s creating a platform business, where more value is added on top of things like storage, computing, and security. “It’s all about going into the top 8 to 10 industries and finding where are companies reimagining their business, where are they going digital, where are they transforming their business model, and how does Box act as a platform that could accelerate that push into the future,” he said. If the critics are right, Box is doomed. If Box is right, it has a chance at being a valuable enterprise company along the lines of Salesforce.

Looking on customers, partners and, especially BOX enterprise content collaboration platform, made me think about an interesting intersection between product lifecycle and BOX business. Of course BOX is not in the business of design and engineering software. However, enterprise collaboration has a significant overlap with what most of PLM platforms are providing – metadata, security, workflow, collaboration, content search. These are topics that always presented in PLM. It seems to me current focus of BOX is outside of manufacturing companies. However, maybe future BOX growth will take it towards manufacturing enterprises.

What is my conclusion? I don’t think BOX is focusing today on manufacturing companies. However, elements of BOX platform have a perfect sense when you think about product lifecycle collaboration. What is especially interesting is content collaboration on an enterprise scale. This is a topic, which most of PLM companies are struggling with. Existing PLM platforms have good representation in engineering domain, but lack of broad enterprise adoption. This is a place where future competition between PLM vendors and BOX (or similar companies) can occur. On the other side, BOX can become a platform to take PLM collaboration forward in enterprise companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credits box.com


Why today’s CAD & PLM tools won’t become future platforms?

January 12, 2015

yesterdays-tools-are-failing-todays-engineers

PLM business and software vendors are transforming. Manufacturing companies are looking for new type of solutions that can give a faster ROI as well as become a better place for engineering and manufacturing innovation. The dissatisfaction of customers about slow ROI and low value proposition is growing. Back in 2012 I was listening to Boeing presentation – Reaching for the value of PLM at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. You can read my notes in the old blog post – PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015. I hope to hear more about new PLM trends at upcoming PLM Innovation congress in Dusseldorf next month and later this year at PI Americas in Boston in November 2015.

Earlier last year I posted – Traditional PLM have reached their limits. My main point was around ability to PLM platform to support a continues pipeline of business solutions in current business environment. Integration is one of the key inhibitors that preventing easy PLM implementation and deployment. However, from a broader perspective, existing PLM platforms were invented 10-20 years ago and vendors made only minor changes since then. In my view it means a lot in terms of changing paradigms of today’s business and computing environment and processes.

I found an interesting explanation about distribution nature of design in a recent blog by OnShape by Jon Hirschtick – Why we started from scratch (again) in the CAD business:

The Design World Has Changed – The way that design and manufacturing teams work together has dramatically changed. Teams that used to be under one roof are now fragmented and globally distributed. And teams are also changing faster, with people coming on and off projects all the time.

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Another provoking statement was made by Autodesk CEO Carl Bass at few conferences last year – Why yesterday’s tools are failing today’s engineers”. He speaks abut inefficient tools and a conflict of paradigms. You can watch his presentation here:

carl-bass-why-yesterday-tools

My attention was caught by CIMdata post – Platformization: The Next Step in PLM’s Evolution by Peter Bilello. An article speaks about what future development can support PLM growth and, specifically, about the impact of circular economy in manufacturing. Here is an interesting passage:

So what should/will the PLM enabling innovation platforms of the future look like? In my opinion, these platform-centric solutions need to be reliable, robust, and boundaryless. Reliable solutions must be able to withstand multiple system upgrades and platform migrations. In turn, these robust solutions must be adaptable, maintainable, extensible, scalable, reconfigurable, compatible, and stable. And finally, these boundaryless solutions must be free of artificial limitations on functionality that are imposed by the marketplace segmentation of design and engineering systems with conventional architectures. Meeting these characteristics will be a tall order for many of today’s commercially available PLM solutions, but one that must be met for the future of PLM to be successful.

I specially liked a notion of boundaryless solution and conventional architecture. It hard to say what is behind, but I wanted to speculate and connect it one of my previous articles – the end of single PLM database architecture is coming. To me it make sense – the amount of data is growing, companies are getting even more distributed, distributed design nature becomes a norm.

What is my conclusion? Existing tools and platforms limitation can slow down engineers and companies to innovate. Desktop tools and existing database architectures are limiting ways to implement and use them for new innovative process. Future PLM platforms will re-think existing design, product data management and business process paradigms by making them distributed and boundaryless. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Kenesto cloud PDM hybrid

December 18, 2014

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Few months ago, I posted about latest development of Kenesto cloud data management solutions – Kenesto revamp: does it change cloud PLM game? I saw it as a sharp turn for Kenesto from focusing on collaboration towards engineering and product data management business. From earlier comments made by Steve Bodnar of Kenesto here, I’ve learned Kenesto is developing technology to synchronize CAD data between desktops and cloud locations. Here is the comment made back in October:

…automatic synchronization maintains appropriate version control as well as permissions. This way, if you have “download only” permission, as an example, you can synchronize to one or more of your locations, and any updates will automatically be synchronized to those locations for you (in addition to notifications being sent).

CIMdata recent publication about Kenesto Collaboration Platform made me think again about what it does and how it might be different from other cloud PDM products available now or soon become available on the market. What caught my special attention in CIMdata publication is related to so called “innovative intersection of cloud-based file management and data sharing with traditional PDM vaulting”. A massive amount of CAD data is stored on corporate networks and just CAD desktops. It made me think Kenesto is trying to bring solution to customers that already have traditional PDM systems and extend it with a better collaborative option. The following passage from CIMdata commentary provides more explanations:

The Kenesto solution is a secure, hybrid, cloud-desktop collaboration platform where product development and delivery teams can collaborate using discussion threads, or by co-authoring documents and design files, with anytime, anywhere access. Kenesto puts a broad range of capabilities at the fingertips of product delivery teams to organize and manage their programs, products, and projects. Teams can create their workspaces with people, workflow, forms, data, and reports—including bills of materials, change requests, and purchasing forms—and be kept on the same page with Kenesto’s proprietary intelligent synchronization approach. Each user is provided with a dashboard that can be customized to personal preferences. An important feature in Kenesto is that users are always in full control of their documents and designs. A user can permit their teammates to view, mark-up, or edit their documents and designs and can collaborate with them in real time or asynchronously.

Many of features such as project, workspaces, workflow, forms, bill of materials, change requests etc. are not new in PDM industry. However, “cloud-desktop” hybrid sounds like a new buzzword. Does it mean Kenesto found something unique in terms how to bring desktop CAD users to the cloud? It hard to say based on a commentary, but it might go that way.

What is my conclusion? Market dynamics are bringing more engineering and manufacturing companies to the cloud. It gives more opportunities to cloud PDM/PLM vendors. At the same time, it raises more questions how existing environment and data assets will be managed and how people will collaborate in a hybrid environment. Kenesto might solve an interesting problem here and compete with other vendors in the same domain – Autodesk, SolidWorks, GrabCAD and others. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: ukCWCS via photopin cc

Photo is an illustration only and does not reflect Kenesto architecture.


How to migrate into “future PLM platform”?

December 6, 2014

plm-platform-migration

One of the topics I touched in my yesterday post about future PLM platforms is platform migration. The ability of customer to make a move is significantly dependent on how existing environment can be migrated. You can catch up on some of my earlier thoughts about PLM migrations by reading the following posts – PLM upgrades, release cycle and legacy software; PLM migration and product data rock-n-roll; PLM cloud and future of upgrades.

Most of large manufacturing companies (and even smaller companies) already made some sort of investment in PLM products. What is ROI of move to a new platform? How to calculate it? How not to get troubled by supporting multiple versions of applications and environment? These are good questions. Customers and PLM vendors are equally interested how to manage it in a right way.

My attention caught Dassault Systemes’ 3Dperspective blog post – Top Three Considerations for Planning Your Move to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. It speaks about how customer can migrate into new 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Here is an interesting passage:

The same data model and business process rules that power the 3DEXPERIENCE platform also powered the ENOVIA platform. In fact, the same basic approach also powered the MatrixOne platform. This is why so many of ENOVIA’s current customers have been able to successfully upgrade since their first implementation in the mid to late 1990’s.

The following picture shows the history of 3DEXPERIENCE platform evolution. It basically means that the say foundation platform used by all MatrixOne and ENOVIA customers and migration is effortless. I’m not sure if I’m happy to know that the same data technology used by all generation of systems from mid 1990s. However, it is clear benefit for customers looking how to migrate data between different versions of MatrixOne and ENOVIA V6.

3D-experience-platform-evolution

Dassault System’s rival – Siemens PLM and its TeamCenter platform also has long history of transformations. I didn’t find specific public references on compatibility between data models and application among TeamCenter versions. However, the following article from Tech-Clarity blog by Jim Brown presents an interesting diagram of TeamCenter evolution – Siemens PLM vision 2014+.

TeamCenter platform evolution

More information about evolution of TeamCenter can be found in the following CIMdata document – TeamCenter “unified”. The following passage speaks about “migration” issues:

Siemens PLM will continue to support Teamcenter Engineering and Enterprise for those customers that have them in production. Importantly, with each release of these older products, they have updated the underlying architecture and technology so that when a customer decides to change, the transition to the unified Teamcenter solutions will be easier. They have also developed a robust suite of migration tools that can be used when moving from earlier versions of Teamcenter products to the unified platform.

What is my conclusion? The migration is a complex topic. It is probably one of the most important topics that will define ability of large vendors to move into bright future of next generation PLM platforms. Regardless on what platform customer is going to move, migration will have cost that must be calculated and validated. The idea of “federated platforms” brings some promise of minimizing of migration cost. However, the mechanics of this process is not very clear. At the end of the day, data must be brutally dumped out and transferred. Application migration is even more complex. Users must be re-trained. All together, it is not a simple task. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The definition of cloud PLM

November 7, 2014

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PLM industry is moving towards broader adoption of cloud solutions. More people these days are asking how to implement cloud. It becomes more and more clear that devil is in details and cloud environment can be very different. It comes in variety of aspects related to infrastructure, support of browsers, the need to have elements of software installed on your desktop and mobile devices. It depends on many options. I’ve been touching some of them in my earlier blog – PLM cloud options and 2014 SaaS survey.

As part of overall eduction about cloud technology, it is not unusual to get a question about what is definition of cloud solution in general and more specifically – cloud PLM. I’ve been reading CIMdata commentary – Next Generation Cloud-Based PLM Solutions. I found the following passage as a good summary of cloud PLM definition:

1- On-demand solutions with new cost models that have lower upfront costs for software licenses, subscriptions, or rights-to-use, allowing smaller companies to afford PLM

2- Hosted computing services and environments that do not require investments in infrastructure, providing access to information for anyone at any time while minimizing administrative overhead

3- The ability to add and increase scope of capability and the performance of the solution and processes without requiring additional investment in the underlying IT infrastructure

4- Global access to required application functions, information, and processes

CIMdata’s cloud PLM definition combines some technical aspects blended with business and licensing characteristics of PLM solutions. In my view it is clear indication that cloud PLM story is not pure technology. Customer demands are to find solution that solves multidisciplinary problem of system – technological, business, licensing. It is also shows the fact customers are dissatisfied with today’s business practice of PLM software licensing.

What is my conclusion? The technology and business are going together. Cloud PLM is about to solve customer problems in different aspects – improved business models, low cost and better experience. However, in my view, an interesting part of cloud PLM innovation can be related to the part of PLM system implementation. For many years, implementation was one of the most complicated element of PLM. It takes time to adjust system, capture business processes and set up tools to run and optimize product development. The first PLM vendor who will crack how to leapfrog PLM implementation using cloud business model and technology can gain a significant competitive advantage. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc


You need PLM project to fail… to start lifecycle

June 23, 2014

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One day you discover that your PLM implementation project is not doing so well. It happens and it called failure. Scott Cleveland’s blog took me back to the topic of PLM implementation failures. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the link on CIMdata research to read the paper mentioned by Scott. According to the post, wrong scoping and failure to get buy-in from users are on the topic of the list. Not a surprise.

Failure is not such a rare situation in IT world. Google "IT project failure" and your can quickly discover that 68% of all IT projects fail. Few months ago, I had long discussion around my Why PLM stuck in PDM? article on LinkedIn. I cannot publish all comments from closed discussion group, but the question about "how to identify what is PLM project failure" was one of the dominant topics in the discussion. Guess what… no agreement about how to identify "Failed PLM project". Few other notable references on PLM failure publications: PLM Failure, you didn’t see anything; Keynote presentation by Martin Eigner on ProSTEP iViP Symposium 2009.

Unfortunately, most of PLM events and publication are placing shining picture of success on their PLM references. The problem that all these successes looks the same. It is time to remember Leo Tolstoy passage from Ana Karenina – Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. One of the interesting place to learn about failures is to attend FailCon – the conference for startup founders to study their own and others’ failures. There is no PLM Failure Con… yet. And I doubt companies will be ready to do so.

Reading and discussing PLM failure articles, made me think that you really want your first PLM project to fail. Why so? Here are few thoughts…

Challenge the status quo. As people often say – PLM exists in every manufacturing company. You do product lifecycle management by the way you manage product development processes, store data, communicate within organization and with outside contractors. At the first attempt you will try to build PLM system that mimic all existing practices. I’ve heard it many times – if you have a mess, don’t bring a computer. Otherwise, you will have computerized mess. First, fix the mess, then bring computers.

Get rid of outdated stuff. Every manufacturing company usually trailing lots of existing software and practices. It is hard to cut the cord and switch and leave outdated stuff behind you. PLM project failure can bring an awareness to the problem and force company to make a change. It is hard to company and people to admit they do something wrong. Especially if they do it many years.

Learn as you go. You have the best chance to learn when you actually do something. Regardless on your experience, every manufacturing company is different. How to see that new system will fit? Put it in action! When it comes to people, they only way to see if it works is to try it. Then you fail and only after, find the right way to do it right.

Think about your PLM system in the same way you think about product development processes. Your design doesn’t fit manufacturing plan, some requirements are failing to communicate and some of them got misunderstood. Your first manufactured item fails and you need to fix issues. These are absolutely normal thing for every manufacturing company. Your PLM is not much different.

What is my conclusion? Failure is not an option is probably wrong PLM implementation strategy. Opposite to that, you need to bring it fast, engage with users, fail, fix it and bring back fixed. Lifecycle. This is the only way to make it right. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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