How PTC is delivering PLM in the cloud?

January 28, 2015

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Cloud is trending and it is hard to find a company who is not thinking how to leverage new cloud technologies and business models. However, just to say “cloud” these days means probably nothing. The right question is how to implement cloud. I guess many companies these days are coming to that question. It goes in parallel with the discussion about what is “cloud” and what is “not cloud”, which has some technical and some marketing aspects.

Long time ago, PTC introduced PLM “On Demand“. You should remember this marketing name that later was replaced by SaaS and cloud. According to the PTC website, the solution is available and hosted by IBM. I noticed some indication of PTC move to the cloud back in 2013 after acquisition of NetIDEAS. My writeup about that is here. According to PTC press release NetIDEAS allowed to PTC to develop a better foundation to offer multiple deployment options.

Earlier today, my attention was caught by PTC announcement – PTC Introduces PTC PLM Cloud New PTC Windchill SaaS offerings for small and midsized companies. The following passage is explaining the reason why PTC is coming with cloud product offering

Recognizing that many SMB organizations may lack a dedicated IT staff but still want to adopt a proven PLM environment, PTC designed PTC PLM Cloud specifically to enable team collaboration and data management in the cloud. This flexible offering eliminates the typical, but risky, SMB practice of shared folders and file naming conventions which hamper product development. With more effective and reliable data sharing in the cloud, customers are able to improve product development across teams in different locations, teams working with varying CAD applications, and with external teams such as partners and suppliers who are a growing part of the product development process.

I tried to dig inside of materials available online to see how PTC will provide cloud PLM and what options are available. Navigate here to learn more. It is available with 3 options – standard, premium and enterprise. While names mean nothing, the following definition caught my attention – “instant access” for standard vs. “dedicated database” for others. In addition to that, the differences between options down to “workflow customization” in premium “new business objects and UI customization” for enterprise. It looks like PTC recognized the importance of MCAD data management – all versions are coming with integrated viewing solution and support for Creo, AutoCAD, Inventor and SolidWorks.

ptc-cloud-28-jan-2015

The questions that remaining open me at this moment are price and cloud (hosting) architecture. It is essentially important for customers today as I mentioned earlier in my post – Why you should ask your cloud PLM vendor about Devops and Kubernetes.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are not implementing PLM because of high cost and availability of IT resources. To many customers and vendors today, cloud seems like a right path to remove IT cost and make implementations less painful. From that standpoint, PTC is taking right trajectory by delivering Windchill based PLM solution using cloud. However the devil is in details. I’m looking forward to learn more about “how” PTC on the cloud will be delivered and how it will be different from other PLM clouds from Autodesk, Aras, Dassault Systemes and Siemens PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Cloud PDM: stop controlling data and check shadow IT practices

January 21, 2015

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An interest of customers in cloud PDM solution is growing. I guess there are multiple factors here – awareness about cloud efficiency and transparency, less concern about cloud security and improved speed and stability of internet connections. If you are not following my blog, you can catch up on my older blog articles about cloud PDM – Cloud PDM ban lifted. What next?; Cloud PDM hack with Google Drive and other tools; Cloud can make file check-in and check-out obsolete. The confluence of new technologies around cloud, web, mobile and global manufacturing is creating a demand for cloud (or web based) solution helping distributed design teams.

So, where is a challenge for cloud PDM? My hunch, the biggest one is how to sell cloud PDM to manufacturing companies. I can divide all customers into two groups – larger manufacturing companies that already implemented PDM solutions and smaller manufacturing firms that are still managing CAD design with folders, FTP and Dropbox accounts.

Analysts, researchers and PDM marketing pundits are trying to convince companies that cloud PDM can become a great enabler for collaboration and leaving CAD data “not managed” can bring even greater risk to organization. There is nothing wrong with that… PDM was build around the idea of how to take a control over data. However, the idea of “control” is not something engineers like. Ed Lopategui is speaking about engineers and control in his last blog – The day the strength of PDM failed. Here is a passage I liked:

The second reason, which is not so legitimate, is a loss of control. The reason so many engineers pine about the days of paper-based PDM in document control departments (or instead nothing at all) is that world could be circumvented in a pinch. It was flawed because it was run by humans, and consequently also replete with errors. Replaced with immutable and uncaring software, engineers working in groups nonetheless become irritated because they can’t just do whatever they want. You see this very conflict happening with regard to source control in software development circles. The order needed to manage a complex product necessarily makes manipulating pieces of that engineering more cumbersome. It’s one thing to be creating some widget in a freelance environment, it’s another matter entirely when that end product needs traceable configuration for a serialized certification basis. And that will happen regardless of how the software operates.

Here is the thing… Maybe cloud PDM should stop worry about controlling data and think more about how to bring a comfort to engineers and stop irritating users with complex lifecycle scenarios? It made me think about practice that known as “shadow IT”. For the last few years, shadow IT and cloud services have lot of things in common. Don’t think about shadow IT as a bad thing. Think about innovation shadow IT can bring to organizations.

Forbes article “Is shadow IT a runaway train or an innovation engine?” speaks about how shadow IT can inject some innovative thinking into organization. This is my favorite passage:

As we reported last month, one corporate employee survey found that 24% admit they have purchased and/or deployed a cloud application — such as Salesforce.com, Concur, Workday, DropBox, or DocuSign. One in five even use these services without the knowledge of their IT departments.

The rise of shadow IT may actually inject a healthy dose of innovative thinking into organizations, at a time they need it most. The ability to test new approaches to business problems, and to run with new ideas, is vital to employees at all levels. If they are encumbered by the need for permissions, or for budget approvals to get to the technology they need, things will get mired down. Plus, shadow IT applications are often far cheaper than attempting to build or purchase similar capabilities through IT.

What is my conclusion? Stop controlling data and bring a freedom of design work back to engineers. I understand, it is easy to say, but very hard to implement. To control data is a very fundamental PDM behavior. To re-imagining it require some innovative thinking. It is also related to the fact how to stop asking engineers to check-in, check-out and copy files between different locations. Maybe, this is an innovation folks at Onshape are coming with? I don’t know. In my view, cloud PDM tools have the opportunity to change the way engineers are working with CAD data. Many new services became successful by providing cloud applications and making existing working practices much easier than before. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg
photo credit: Dean Hochman via photopin cc


Top 5 PLM trends to watch in 2015

January 15, 2015

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Holidays are over and it was a good time to think about what you can expect in engineering and manufacturing software related to PLM in coming year. You probably had a chance to listen to my 2015 PLM predictions podcast few months ago. If you missed that, here is the link. Today I want to give a bit more expanded list of trends in product lifecycle management to observe in 2015.

1- Greater complexity of cloud PLM implementations

Cloud adoption is growing in enterprise for the last few years and it is getting more mature. PLM vendors are making steps in the cloud direction too. Companies are moving from marketing and research to “nuts and bolts” of implementations. Switch to the cloud is not as simple as some marketing pundits predicted. It is more than just moving servers from your data center to somebody else place. The complexity of implementation, maintenance and operation will emerge and will drive future difference between “born in the cloud” solutions and existing PLM platforms migrating to the cloud.

2- The demand to manage complex product information will be growing

Products are getting more complex. You can see it around you. A simple IoT gadget such as door lock can combine mechanical, electrical, electronic and software parts. It introduces a new level of complexity for manufacturing and PLM vendors – how to manage all this information in a consistent way? To bring together design and bill of materials for every discipline becomes a critical factor in manufacturing company of every size.

3- New type of manufacturing companies will be attracting focus of PLM vendors

Manufacturing landscape is changing. Internet and globalizaiton enabling to create a new type of manufacturing companies – smaller, distributed, agile, crowdfunded. It requires new type of thinking about collaboration, distribute working, digital manufacturing and more. These companies are representing new opportunity and will drive more attention from PLM vendors.

4- Growing interest in mobile enterprise PLM solutions

Mobile went mainstream in many domains. Until now, engineers in manufacturing companies mostly used mobile for email. In 2015 I can see a potential to have a greater interest in mobile solution from manufacturing companies. Distributed work and need for collaboration will drive the demand to make existing enterprise systems more mobile.

5- The demand for big data and analytics in product lifecycle.

Data is driving greater attention these days. I even heard data “data as a new oil”. Manufacturing companies will start to recognize the opportunity and think how to use piles of data from their enterprise engineering and manufacturing system to drive some analysis and use it for decision making.

What is my conclusion? I think 2015 will be a very interesting year in PLM. Broader adoption of cloud, mobile and big data analytics will drive future transformation in engineering and manufacturing software. The disconnect between old fashion enterprise software and new tech vendors will increase. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How many enterprise PLM systems will survive cloud migration

January 14, 2015

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Cloud adoption is growing. For most of existing PLM vendors it means to think about how to migrate existing platforms and applications to the cloud. I covered related activities of PLM vendors in my previous articles. Take a look here – PLM cloud options and 2014 SaaS survey. It can give you an entry point to few more articles. Some of vendors such as Dassault System are promising to deliver a full set of cloud options – private, public and hybrid. Aras is partnering with Microsoft Azure and Siemens PLM is focusing on a diverse set of IaaS options. At the same time to move existing platform to the cloud won’t be simple. To migrate customers’ environments to the cloud will be even more complicated.

My attention caught by InfoWorld article – Docker’s tremendous upside could upset some enterprises. If you are not familiar with what Docker is, navigate to my earlier blog – Why to ask cloud PLM vendor about Devops and Kebernetes. InfoWorld article speaks about Docker’s ability to support application portability and a potential clash between what Docker can provide and the cloud migration strategies developed by enterprises for the last few years. Here is an interesting passage.

With Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services all supporting Docker, your management may feel compelled to take a hard look at it as the right enabling technology. If this means rebooting your existing application migration strategy, perhaps even redoing 50 applications, then so be it. After all, the technology is changing so quickly that enterprises should be allowed to change strategy when new developments arise.

How is that related to what PLM vendors are doing? In my view, it is an additional shakeout to PLM vendors as they go towards more learning about cloud applications, services, and ways to migrate from existing PLM platforms into future “clouds”. It is about “how” to make cloud real and it will require to go down from marketing messages about moving to the cloud into deep waters of DevOps and services. One of my PLM predictions for 2015 was about the fact software vendors will discover the complexity of cloud PLM migrations. You can listen to my 3 predictions for PLM in 2015 by navigating to the following podcast by SPK and Associates.

What is my conclusion? PLM vendors and enterprise customers soon to discover the complexity of migration to the cloud. It will come trough understanding of underlining architectures, complexity of operation, service level commitments and other business and technologies topics. Most of enterprises are heavy invested into customization of existing PLM platforms, which will add an level of complexity for migration. How many enterprise PLM apps will survive cloud migration? This is a good question to ask in coming year. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: M J M via photopin cc


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.


Cloud is an opportunity to set open standards for PLM

December 11, 2014

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One of the topic that usually drives lot of attention in engineering software is standards. Or absence of standards. The story of standards goes back long way to CAD formats and multi-CAD universe. I’ve been touching topic of standards and PLM earlier. Catch up on my posts – CAD/PLM standards and toothbrush problem and PLM standards: from formats to frameworks.

With the raise of cloud technology development, the question I wanted to ask how it will impact future standards creation. Does cloud provides a better grounds to build standards in services, data exchange and communication?

InfoWorld article Open standards face an uphill climb in the cloud bring a perspective on cloud standards and enterprises. The interesting thing here – we can see again the challenge standards are facing to compete with established large vendors. The following passage summarizes the situation:

Despite initial enthusiasm for open technologies, enterprises are favoring proprietary big-name cloud providers.When it comes to cloud standards, enterprises voted with their dollars. Most have focused more on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google offerings than on standards such as OpenStack and CloudStack. Of course, AWS, Microsoft, and Google are cloud services providers, whereas open standards are enabling technologies. But vendors that have built their public and private cloud offerings around a standard (usually OpenStack) have not been on the short list of cloud technology providers for most enterprises. In fact, most vendors that pledged allegiance to open standards years ago — including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Rackspace — have been largely overlooked by enterprises, which are mostly instead choosing AWS, Azure, and Google.

What is my conclusion? Cloud can revolutionize technological stack used in enterprise. This is an opportunity for companies to choose open standards, which will provide more openness and support establishment of new open PLM platforms. However, it is not happening yet. While large enterprise manufacturing voting with dollars and focusing on AWS, Azure and Google, small companies and individual makers can find cloud software using open standards as an interesting option. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Integration is holding back PLM cloud adoption

December 11, 2014

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Cloud PLM adoption is growing. More PLM vendors these days are re-branding and re-building product and software architecture to keep up with fast moving cloud trend. This year I can see significant shift towards discussion about technical aspects of cloud implementation. The devils is in details and differentiate between variety of cloud implementation options is very important.

However, regardless on technological options, what do you think holding back all cloud implementations. In the past, the topic of security was one of the most debated among engineering software professionals and customers. Security is important. But what else

Forbes article Cloud Computing Adoption Continues Accelerating In The Enterprise speaks about different aspects of cloud business. I highly recommend you to read it -I’m sure you can find many interesting data points. My attention caught the following chart presenting top disconnects holding SaaS applications adoption:

The three biggest disconnects holding cloud-based infrastructure and applications back from greater adoption from an IT senior management perspective include concerns about the security (61%), integration challenges (46%) and information governance (35%). IT leaders perceive that line-of-business (LOB) leaders are most concerned about security (52%), difficulty measuring Return on Investment (ROI) and determining the accurate economic value of cloud solutions (37%) and a tie between information governance and cloud-based applications being able to meet enterprise and/or industry standards (32%).

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Security is an obvious suspect. What was very interesting is to find Integration, standards and information governance as #2 and #3. As I posted few weeks ago, integration is one of the major challenges that influence broad PLM adoption and ROI. It looks like cloud applications adoption is even more dependent on the ability to integrate multiple SaaS and on premise applications.

What is my conclusion? Cloud adoption is growing. However, enterprise software landscape is complicated. Integration was always a challenge. However, cloud applications are bringing new type of challenges. PLM is data intensive with a lot of dependencies of data distributed between departments, databases and external companies-suppliers. New cloud technologies can make integration easier by leveraging modern web technologies. However, absence of standard and large amount of legacy software makes it really complex. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Adam_T4 via photopin cc


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