Autodesk PLM360 and cloud PDM trajectories

September 3, 2015

NextGenDataManagement

I’m slowly digesting information from Accelerate 2015 – Autodesk PLM360 event that took place in Boston earlier this week. If you missed that, try to catch up by searching for #XLR8PLM on twitter. Although, most of sessions at the even were dedicated to customers and partners, the last keynote presented by Jared Sund, Autodesk Sr. Product Manager – Autodesk PLM360 Sneak Peek – provided a good portion of information about latest PLM360 development.

One of the topics that caught my special attention was cloud PDM. Those of you following my blog regularly won’t be surprised – cloud PDM is fascinating and important topic. Despite the fast development of cloud technologies, majority of cloud enterprise applications are running in a browser and have no or very little dependencies on files. Opposite to that, engineering environment is different and significant portion of design these days is still done by desktop CAD software.

You might recall My first take on Autodesk PLM360 system and technology. The original PLM360 incarnation excluded CAD data management. My first take to articulate the scope of PLM360 back in 2012 was: PLM360 = PLM + Cloud – CAD Data Management.

However, things are changing. Last year, at Accelerate 2014, we’ve seen a presentation and demo of how Autodesk is planning to solve a problem of managing CAD data in the cloud – Autodesk early preview of cloud (PDM) document management.

Cloud PDM vision and implementation becomes even more mature. In my view, it is an important element behind capabilities of Autodesk products to handle CAD data. It empowers ADSK Cloud by providing “first CAD data management (PDM) in the cloud“.

cloud-pdm-autodesk-1

cloud-pdm-autodesk-2

cloud-pdm-autodesk-4

The following slides can give you an update about Autodesk CAD data management in the cloud, examples of Fusion360 PDM functions and CAD data management preview in A360 and PLM360.

PLM_Attachments

A360_Section

EvolutionDataManagement

What is my conclusion? CAD data represents one of the most important sources of information about products. Design systems are transforming engineering vision and ideas into reality. It is important to plug-in CAD and related design data into the overall product lifecycle. So, to have future cloud PDM environment tightly integrated with PLM360, Fusion360 and A360 is a very good news for users. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM 360 and three years of cloud PLM innovation

September 2, 2015

I’m attending Accelerate 2015 – Autodesk PLM 360 event in Boston this week. It was a good opportunity to compare it with my notes about PLM 360 I made three years ago when PLM360 (original name Nexus) was just introduced. I checked back my old blogs – Autodesk enters PLM: Everything changes… for Autodesk and My first take on Autodesk PLM 360 system and technology.

The following slides demonstrated the initial Autodesk PLM360 vision back into 2011 – step beyond engineering data management system into broad organizational system and technological disruption via cloud data, infinite computing and more.

Autodesk-PLM-View

Technoloy-disruption

Fast forward into 2015. The first and probably most important thing that happened for Autodesk PLM360 for the last three years – there are customers that speak about PLM360 experience now. Accelerate 2015 brings several key PLM360 customers and I had an opportunity to listen to what they said about PLM360 experience.

plm360-customers

The vision of PLM to grow beyond engineering became more mature. I captured the following slide from the keynote presentation made by Scott Reese, VP of cloud platform.

plm360 innovation platform

Autodesk PLM vision was presented in a form of Product Innovation Platform (PIP) taking cyclic perspective on product development. The traditional linear PLM perspective from concept to operation was replaced with the cycle between concepts and connected services. It reflected a broader vision on Future of Making Things (#FOMT) created by Autodesk during the last few years.

Autodesk continued the line of technological disruption started back in 2011 with cloud technologies. The latest acquisition of SeeControl brings the technology to help developing IoT cloud services and to create virtual product experience. An example from the keynote presentation – predictive maintenance product services.

autodesk-predictive-maintenance-service

What is my conclusion? Autodesk PLM vision is getting more mature. It moved from a concept of leveraging cloud technologies to help manufacturing companies into the realization of PLM platform to innovate and to help manufacturing companies to develop new products and services. Back in 2011, Autodesk took a risk to bring PLM based using cloud technologies. From that standpoint, I can see Autodesk mission accomplished. PLM industry is embracing cloud these days. All PLM vendors are brining some sort of cloud technologies, products and vision. Few weeks ago, I made my first attempt to compare PLM cloud services provided by different vendors. Unfortunately, “cloud” became a buzzword. To ask “why do we need cloud?” is a wrong question to ask. Cloud is here to stay. But devil is in the details. It will take another round of innovation to differentiate cloud PLM products and technologies developed by established PLM vendors and newcomers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Salesforce platform and cloud PLM differentiators

August 28, 2015

cloud-plm-differentiator

Almost two years ago, I asked if Salesforce.com platform is ready for PLM. You can navigate to my old article to get up to speed my thoughts here. Some Youtube videos disappeared since then. The basic set of Saleforce.com platform functionality is mature and Salesforce is investing in additional development. Saleforce Lightning Design System I mentioned few days ago in the context of PLM toolkit post is another confirmation about that. Few ERP companies launched for the last few years on top of Saleforce platform and I’ve been following them. You can check – Kenandy, Rootstock and few more ERP on AppExchange.

It appears that I’m not alone with my conclusions about leveraging Salesforce as a platform for a new cloud PLM. The new website of Propel PLM software caught my attention yesterday. What I’ve learned from the website is that Propel PLM is based on Salesforce.com and it provides what you can imagine as a typical PLM functions – item, parts, bill of materials. The industry focus is spread between high-tech, manufacturing, life sciences, communication and automotive.

propel-plm-saleforce

According to website, Propel PLM contains three modules – Salesforce platform, Product Record and Process Lifecycle. Few additional facts I captured – it looks like capable to manage software lifecycle (in some sense). This is my hunch based on the notion of “software releases”. Also, Propel is capable to manage service data. Propel founders Ray Hein, Brian Sohmers and Ron Hess are coming with significant PLM and industry background with roots in Agile PLM, Oracle and Kenandy. It looks like they also have significant experience with Salesforce.

I didn’t find much information about the product, except of few screenshots. It looks like Propel is planning to bring more info closer to their launch at Dreamforce 2015 in few weeks. I will have an opportunity to speak to them and bring more information later.

The news about Propel PLM made me think about cloud PLM landscape. My earlier assessment of cloud PLM services and vendor differentiation led me to the conclusion that differentiation might be a tricky problem for cloud PLM vendors in the next few years. Each PLM vendor these days is offering some sort of cloud PLM solution. However, the devil is in details. Not each cloud is the same and business models can vary too.

What is my conclusion? Cloud PLM vendors will be searching how to differentiate themselves in the competitive market of cloud engineering and manufacturing solutions. Established vendors will search for a balance between existing platform technologies and advantages of cloud architectures. Newcomers will have more flexibility to innovate and build their own differentiation. Propel is coming first on top of Salesforce. Will Salesforce.com platform and technology will make a good deal for cloud PLM such as Propel to success? This is a good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Propel PLM

 

 


Cloud becomes a part of product lifecycle

August 4, 2015

cloud-software-product-lifecycle

Cloud is not a foreign word in a lexicon of CAD and PLM developers. Although, there is probably no agreement about how cloud technologies are going to change engineering and manufacturing software, companies are investing significant resources into turning existing PLM platforms into cloud as well as developing new tools and technologies.

Do you remember PLM cloud services comparison blog from few month ago? Forget about differences how PLM vendors are development cloud PLM products. You should look at cloud as a unseparated part of product itself. Feel confused? Let me explain.

PTC blog Embed IoT functionality in the product or cloud speaks about the fact many products today are using cloud as a way to implement some of functions. Here is an interesting passage, which explains that:

How much functionality should be embedded in the product and how much in the cloud? Connectivity serves a dual purpose. It gives us the ability to move information back and forth, but it also gives us a new domain in which to create capabilities. So, for example, as an engineer, given a requirement from the customer I really have four different ways or four different engineering domains in which I can create capabilities.

The growing number of hardware companies are rediscovering software these days. The question about hardware vs. software company is getting less relevant. It is hard to find company that is not writing software. And it hard to find hardware company that is not trying to bring some vital functionality by providing cloud-based software services. The Internet of Things is one of the factors that forcing companies to invest more in software.

As you can see cloud is actually getting a dual role in PLM. It is a future delivery platform for PLM services and it is part of the product itself. The last one implies the fact it should be managed as part of the product. Now, think about Requirements, Bill of Materials, Configuration and Change Management, etc. All these things are applying to management of cloud software as part of your product.

Including software in the loop of product lifecycle has many implications on how to manage information and processes. This is another level of complexity added to mechanical, electronic, embedded software. There is a long list of examples of products that bringing cloud software as part of experience. And the number will increase.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is now part of what you call product. The importance of software management capabilities in PLM systems is increasing. Cloud is starting to play a vital role in product delivery model. It is not a floppy disk in the box you can ignore. Customer experience is directly dependent on software that runs… in the cloud. Wrong software patch can ruin your customers story very fast. A holistic control of product lifecycle including cloud software is must have function for the next decade PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


5 questions to ask before moving your CAD work to cloud using Fra.me [UPDATED]

July 27, 2015

cad-frame-cloud-nirvana

I keep following new cloud software outfit Fra.me. Few months ago, at Siemens PLM conference, I’ve seen how SolidEdge runs in the cloud using Frame infrastructure. You probably noticed my blog – Fra.me and bridge to the cloud earlier last week. Another article about Frame by SolidSmack is bringing a news about the availability of two Frame plans – Personal and Business. Here is the passage from the article:

Today, company CEO Nikola Bozinovic has just sent word to SolidSmack that Frame is now available in two distinct plans – Frame Personal and Frame for Business – for both individuals and teams to install, manage, and share their desktop applications using nothing but a browser. Among other reasons why the platform has been of interest is because it will allow users of CAD software offerings that aren’t currently Cloud-supported – such as SolidWorks or Solid Edge – the ability to work from any internet-connected device in the world without being tethered to a particular workstation.

So, maybe Fra.me is that magical “single click” solution that will solve all problems of engineers to move their work into cloud environment? The idea sounds very appealing- create your cloud computer, which will make all your existing desktop top available via just browser.

frame-cloud

At the same time, it made me think about basic checklist you do before jumping into Frame nirvana.

1- Does my CAD license valid for cloud?

I know, legal stuff is boring. Some of you might remember Autodesk eBay lawsuit. As a user, you can check small letters in your CAD EULA document. It is a good idea if Fra.me will publish some clarification about licensing on their website. From tweet chat with Frame CEO Nikoa Bozinovic, I understood that he is aware about licensing issue.

2- How to bring my existing CAD project library to Fra.me?

Engineering work is rarely done from scratch. It is usually about re-using existing projects, using standard library of parts, etc. Sometimes, existing libraries are large and to move them into cloud environment can take time and cost money. At list this problem exists for many cloud based environments. Will Frame provide services like Amazon Import/Export? Frame is addressing speed of data exchange between Frame computer and Dropbox, but I didn’t find any information how to import file.

3- How to share data in a team?

For many years of desktop CAD software use, customers developed many best practices about how to share data. It starts from well known “z-drive” concept and also use of more advanced techniques and software such SharePoint. So, how my z-drive library will be available on Frame?

4- How to use PDM tools together with Frame?

The usage of PDM is growing. Many CAD users found the real value in managing their CAD data using PDM systems. PDM systems today are bundled with many mainstream CAD systems. What will happen with my PDM installation? How to move it into Frame environment? Does it mean I need Frame IT option to do that?

5- How to escape Frame (in other words how to get my data out)

The last, but also important – how to escape from Frame in case something goes wrong or company will move into another solution. Nobody likes data lock-in these days. The idea of Google takeout is very appealing and I wish it will become part of CAD data liberation. It is not clear how to handle export of data from Frame computer. It might be simple, but can take time and money like import of data.

What is my conclusion? It takes time to bring cloud tools such as CAD, CAE, CAM to the level of maturity available in desktop systems today. Cloud providers are pushing forward to develop new tools and re-use existing components. However, in many situations, existing desktop tools have better support for needed functionality and complete workflows. Frame is digging into an interesting opportunity to take “desktop world” to the cloud. The short term value proposition is clear. In my view, existing CAD / PLM vendors can be interested to use technologies like Frame to prolong existing solution lifecycle into cloud time. My hunch, it can influence the speed of early cloud adopters to move into full cloud solution. Cloud companies should watch it closely. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

[UPDATE 27-JULY-2015]

Frame CEO Nikola Bozinovic kindly agreed to provide answers on my questions and publish them on blog.fra.me. Meantime, don’t miss Frame white paper which is specifically focused on “Frame for CAD” that can be downloaded here.

I captured few interesting passages that can give you ideas about Frame strategy to provide value proposition of running existing desktop CAD and PDM/PLM system in the cloud using Frame virtualization environment.

Previous to Frame, adopting the cloud for CAD workflows primarily had to do with moving to cloud-based file storage. This essentially meant splitting up your workflow and spending a lot of time downloading and uploading files. While some CAD options exist as native cloud apps, these options don’t have anywhere near the feature set of established Windows-based CAD tools. So, in the past, cloud options created an inefficient and fragmented CAD environment. With Frame you can continue to use the tools that you’re used to, the way that you’re used to using them but get all the benefits of being able to access them through the cloud including seamless integration with cloud storage.

Focus on being a CAD expert, not an IT expert. Managing desktops and laptops used for CAD, license servers and PDM systems can be a pain because they are generally distributed across multiple locations, owned or managed by different departments and configured in different ways which lead to different behaviors. With Frame, every element of CAD management and administration is centralized. License servers and PDM systems can be installed on Frame utility servers to make them accessible from anywhere and by any department. Similarly, CAD software only needs to be installed and setup one time and then can be accessed by any number of users from the Frame Launchpad in a browser.

I captured the following architecture diagram from Frame for CAD white paper:

frame-cad-pdm-architecture-use-cases

Cloud storage is required in case you want to store your files and data. Frame white paper recommends to use services like Dropbox (the only released support) and Box (in beta) or Google Drive (in beta). The installation and configuration is not exactly “single click”. White paper provides instructions and recommendation how to setup and configure environment. Frame confirmed several CAD systems already on-boarded to Frame environment – Dassault Systems Solidworks, Siemens’ SolidEdge and NX, PTC’s Creo, Vectorworks and ANSIS). I guess more to come. It is notable that none of existing Autodesk desktop systems are not tested for the moment. For some installation and configuration related topics Frame white paper recommends to contact Frame directly.

Stay tuned for more information.

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Fra.me

 



Why cloud CAD is closer to solve some PLM problems than you think

July 18, 2015

cad-enterprise-data-share-plm-problem

One of the topics I’m following closely these days is cloud CAD development trend. To make cloud CAD work from the cloud, vendors must solve some fundamental data management and PDM problems first. The two most visible players in cloud CAD domain today are Autodesk Fusion360 and Onshape. Although Fusion360 was released almost 3 years ago, I can see some similarity in the way fundamental data management problems will be solved by both products. Note, that Fusion360 is using Autodesk A360 platform for data management. You might be interested to catch up with some of my previous writing about these systems – Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technology and focus and How Fusion360 and Onshape are solving fundamental CAD collaboration problem.

To continue, I want to have a conversation about cloud CAD and Product Lifecycle Development. 3D CAD World recently published an article Onshape: Future of CAD – or Future of PLM? The article brings good points about Onshape built with data management in mind. Here is an interesting passage:

Steve Hess, another member of Onshape’s UX/PD team, followed up Gallo by posting: “As you know Onshape was built with data management in mind. The data management features of Onshape are at the core of the product and will become more exposed as Onshape matures. “In time, Onshape will be the system of record for all types of data & meta-data (data about the data) allowing you to run analysis and simulations…without having [to] copy or reproduce the information in another system. The data stored in Onshape will be visible and accessible to your other enterprise systems.”

Autodesk and Onshape are in a different time phases related to enterprise deployments. While Onshape just started with public beta version back in March, Autodesk released cloud based PLM 360 back in 2012. The last blog from Onshape can give you some interesting perspective on what cloud CAD and Onshape can offer to enterprises out of the box. Navigate to the following link – 5 Ways to advance your career with Onshape. Yes, it speaks about career opportunities, but I want to focus your attention on some technological and product capabilities of Onshape. It related to the native ability of Onshape to share 3D data using browser. One of the uses cases – introduce 3D to manufacturing. Here is my favorite passage:

Stop using email, FTP and Dropbox to share files. Let’s face it, every time you send a copy of a file to someone you create issues with file compatibility, data security or version control. Human error adds to the problem when assemblies are sent without part files, old versions are used, or email size limits are exceeded. There is a better way with Onshape. Just upload your existing CAD data into Onshape and hit “Share.” Now everyone can reference the same data, translate on demand when needed, and you can easily revoke a person’s access if you choose. You will reduce daily frustration while increasing your company’s control of its data.

Introduce 3D to the manufacturing team. Too often, there are a few licenses of 3D CAD being used for product design, while the people designing the fixtures and tooling are using older 2D systems – or even pencil and paper. With Onshape, the entire manufacturing team can experience the benefits of 3D design. You will introduce design efficiencies and give others the tools to drive innovation.

One of the functional requirements for PLM is to make data widely available and used across all teams in the company and extended enterprise. Although, it sounds simple, it was a challenging requirement for many PLM products. Two main reasons – product complexity and expensive licensing mechanism. Onshape has some good news here such as sharing data similar to Google Drive and free licensing model (according to my understanding when engineer shares model with somebody, person is getting free license automatically). The licensing issue is probably require some additional validation. I’m not sure what happens when number of shared document with a single person will grow beyond 5 documents limit. Of course, companies in specific industries might have a problem with public cloud both A360 and Onshape are using.

What is my conclusion? Cloud CAD is getting close to solve some fundamental 3D sharing problems. These problems caused traditional PLM to slow down in their ability to spread across company departments. It is web based, simple and (there is a chance) free or has affordable cost. So, both Onshape and Fusion360/A360 can solve problems that addressed today by premium features of traditional PLM systems. In my view, this is an interesting shift that can disrupt current PLM status quo. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Wikipedia Data Share article


Fra.me and bridge to CAD & PLM cloud

July 15, 2015

bridge-to-the-cloud-cad-plm

Back to my trip to Develop3D Live conference earlier this year, I shared my thoughts about future of cloud competition. The cloud space in CAD is getting more dynamic. It also shakes other traditional applications surrounding CAD – product data management, simulation, etc.

In my first slice of PLM cloud service comparison, I provided a view on how PLM companies are applying different cloud architecture approaches to get into cloud business – from just leveraging IaaS layer to run existing system and up to full rebuilt of systems from grounds up. While traditional applications doesn’t fit very well new cloud technological schemas, it gives a way to come faster with mature implementations. On the other side, to build system from scratch takes time (especially in rich applications such as CAD and PLM).

One of the approaches that driving some attention is virtualization of existing applications via browser. Since my Develop3D live conference, I’ve been following Fra.me – software outfit building technologies allowing to virtualize and run any existing desktop software in a browser. Earlier, at Siemens PLM world in Dallas, I’ve seen how Siemens PLM is running SolidEdge on the cloud using Fra.me.

My attention caught by SolidSmack article – Frame Secures $10 Million to Put All of Your Apps (Yes, Including SolidWorks) in the Cloud. It looks like Fra.me is up to provide a bridge to existing mature CAD and potentially PDM products to the cloud. Fra.me is planning to provide 3 levels of service – personal, business and platform. Here is the passage, which outlines Fra.me strategy:

While there are dedicated Cloud-based apps, Bozinovic’s Frame allows users to install their own software on the company’s servers which can then be used in real-time from any device with a web browser – which effectively gives users the power of a finely-tuned desktop PC workstation within their much lighter $200 netbooks or a Macbook Air.

“After we previewed Frame at Develop3D LIVE in March, we were blown away by the interest to run SOLIDWORKS and other CAD software on Frame from users and businesses from around the world,” said Bozinovic in an email to SolidSmack. “We’re in the middle of the biggest computing platform shift in decades and we’re excited to be bringing the power of the cloud to engineers and designers everywhere.”

It made me think about virtualization service as a bridge to the cloud for existing CAD and PLM vendors. While building new software architecture takes time and resources, to run existing applications using service like Fra.me can be a good shortcut vendors would like to us.

What is my conclusion? The advantages are clear – same software, no need to change and re-architecture things. However, it comes with price. In case of CAD, users will keep existing paradigm of file storage. It will require some additional effort to enable collaboration between users (feature that usually comes natively with cloud CAD platforms today). I can see some opportunity for PDM vendors to run existing PDM/PLM platforms using Fra.me. However, the architecture of such deployments as well as customization / configuration can be tricky. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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