DFM Summit #12 – Cloud Manufacturing Panel

September 25, 2015


I had a chance to attend DFM Summit in Brooklyn, NY yesterday afternoon. More information and program can be found here. You can browse program and recording from previous summits. I hope video recording should be available later, so bookmark the link for your record.

The panel discussion called – Cloud Manufacturing. I was delighted to join and moderate the discussion together with Jeremy Herrman from Plethora, Carsten Hochmuth from aPriori and Jonathan Schwartz from Body Labs. You can see more details below.


One of my observation is related to the growing number of companies providing online services to help companies of all sizes and individuals to manufacture products. Think about globalization, connectivity and growing eco-system of manufacturing services. This is where company like Plethora is coming with a service available for engineers inside their CAD system to validate manufacturability and order a part. This is where aPriority cost management system can be helpful to validate cost online. And this is where 3D modeling services like Body Labs can help to create a realistic representation of humans that can be used by manufacturing to support variety of mass-customization scenarios highly demanded by customers today.

My presentation from the panel is here. Below, you can find few slides from my deck speaking about changes in manufacturing, growing trends of globalization, connectivity and cloud services. Together, it creates a potential future for something I call manufacturing network – an online eco-system of manufacturing companies, contractors, suppliers and individuals.



What is my conclusion? Small is a new big. Manufacturing is changing together with growing demand for mass customization and online services. What was possible only for large manufacturing companies 10-15 years ago becomes available for small manufacturing companies. The number of such companies is growing. Navigate to the following Bolt.io blog speaking about growing investment in hardware startups. And the demand for connected cloud manufacturing services will grow too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why customers are afraid to lose control of CAD and PLM software in cloud era?

September 8, 2015


Control is an interesting thing. It happens in life and business. Often, we think control guarantees us the life we want. We try to be in control because we want to to guarantee the outcomes. Obviously, the benefits to having control are very attractive. We think if we can achieve all our goals, create an idea environment and to be perfectly happy. Unfortunately, trying to create an ideal environment is more likely to create hell for everyone. Ironically, our efforts to be in control often cause us to be more out of control.

The need to control destroy people, relationships, businesses and even countries. So, what lies behind a "controlling behavior". Very often it comes from a fear and anxiety. At the core is a fear of not having all needs completely met. As a result, controllers are by a fear of failure, rejection, abandonment and disappointment. Controllers hate to be vulnerable, and therefore try to control all aspects of lives and business. They commonly assume that, “If I’m not in control, then someone else is,” – this is scary for controllers and they are trying to avoid it at any cost.

Control is one of the topics that often discussed in the context of relationships between CAD / PLM vendors and customers. Controlling CAD formats is just one example and it was a topic on the table for many years. In enterprise PLM, it was a topic of controlling database and data model. The most typical conflict is between customers’ demand for openness and competition between vendors.

Recent development of cloud technology created a new escalation of discussion about "control". Now it comes to the control of "software". For many years, customers were in a full control of software and licenses they acquired from vendors. It was true for desktop CAD packages as well as for enterprise software licenses. While desktop licenses were usually dedicated per computer, enterprise PLM licenses usually provided as a license to maintain a specific number of users in the organization. Cloud software is going to disrupt this status quo – CAD / PLM vendors are moving to sell subscriptions instead of perpetual licenses. It spurs lot of debates and discussions. In the past, I discussed business aspects of new subscription models.

My attention was caught by Cadalyst article – The Rising Resistance to Cloud-Based CAD. There are two parts in the article – Part 1 and Part 2. Robert Green brings an interesting perspective on CAD industry moving to the cloud (or how some of journalists call "server-based") form of software delivery and corresponding business models. The tagline of the article is following

CAD Manager Column: It’s in software vendors’ best interest to retain control of their customers’ CAD software and data — but what about the users that rely on that software? CAD managers share their perspectives, including concerns about security risks, control over data, and ongoing costs.

It represents the variety of arguments and comments about issues and problems related to the centralization of CAD software. Read an article and draw your own opinion.

There are two type of users here – CAD managers and actually engineers – CAD users. Although, their interests are the same, their perspective on the role of software vendor in delivery of software (and specifically cloud software) can be different. On the other side, there are software vendors. Cloud software and subscription business models are bringing changes to the world of vendors by forcing them to think more about every day user experience and services.

The article made me think about two things – (1) trust and (2) fear of change. One of the fundamental things in subscription business models is trust. In my view, it is something that helps customers to keep buying subscription and using services provided by vendors. You can apply it to any type of SaaS software and it will be the same. The second is "fear of change". This is why anxiety about the future CAD experience is coming from. The world was a good place until now – everyone knew their roles, behaviors and responsibilities. This is a fear about future disruption with unexpected behaviors and potential to lose control.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here and it will disrupt industries and existing software business. The discussion about the change is very important. It is already happened in some domains – the time for CAD and PLM came. The change won’t be easier and won’t happen overnight. Some segments are more sensitive to the change. Regulated industries, defense contractors and large companies. But many segments are not and this is where change will start happen.It will also come from new people that are coming to CAD industry – the generation of people that formed their habits based on contemporary web software and tools developed for the last 10 years. Providing services is different from selling software. It will come down to responsibility of vendors and customer trust. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of mapichai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Autodesk PLM360 and cloud PDM trajectories

September 3, 2015


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“.




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.




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.



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.


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.


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


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.


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 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


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.


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:


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



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