PLM vertical PaaS strategies

July 25, 2014

PaaS-plm-large-manufacturing

SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, DMaaS, … I’m sure marketing folks are having lots fun of new xaaS acronyms. The amount of publication about various strategies of services is skyrocketing. EDACafe article – The Platform-as-a-Service Provides European Aerospace & Defence OEMs and Partners with Greater Collaboration Capabilities brings a story of “AirDesign” – the European aerospace and defense industry’s collaboration platform by BoostAeroSpace and Dassault System. The article taste a bit marketing. Nevertheless, I found the following passage capture the rationale behind what AirDesign supposed to provide:

AirDesign drastically reduces operational costs for all partners through a single infrastructure, common exchange methods, open standards and easy access, all without adversely impacting existing information systems. All the primary European OEMs jointly requested and defined this platform in order to facilitate exchanges, support their suppliers’ ecosystems and generate new opportunities with services.

MMT article provides more analyzes on what Dassault and BoostAerospace are doing:

To manage the exchange of PLM data between all partners whatever their systems may be, AirDesign delivers three key capabilities through its digital exchange hub: 1/ The first allows an OEM to organize exchanges in the context of programs and projects, including the delegation of administrative roles; 2/The second is an integrated, secured and automatic technical data package exchange. The traceability needed for complex programs is a native capability, ensuring proper management of large technical files between OEMs and suppliers; 3/The third capability consists of access to a wide variety of services, including converters based on standards or approval services that a partner can use during an exchange.

The set of functionality above aren’t new. Large PLM implementation did it in the past. The problem of standardization and platform cost in supply chain eco-systems is critical. So, it is not unusual for partners to share single enterprise software infrastructure for design supply chain and more.

However, the notion of PaaS (Platform as a Service) is interesting. I’ve been blogging about that earlier – Will Cloud PLM develop PaaS option? and Cloud PLM and PaaS dilemma. It looks like PLM vendors is moving towards more vertical platform architecture. Especially for large companies and business eco-systems, PaaS can provide an interesting solution – standardization and cost benefits. The information about private cloud deployment by AirDesign confirms earlier news about Dassault developing all cloud PLM options.

What is my conclusion? I think we are going to see lots of PLM PaaS variations in a near term future. Large manufacturing companies are looking how to optimize cost and standartize infrastructure. This is an opportunity for PLM vendors to re-establish and sometimes re-develop their legacy systems in a new way. I’m sure lots of ENOVIA applications will be used in announced AirDesign PaaS. Overall looks like PaaS is another way to sell PLM cloud system to large manufacturing eco-system. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit to MMT article

 

 


Dassault is going to support all PLM cloud options by 2015+

July 10, 2014

cloud-options

For the last few years, I’m following cloud strategies of main PLM vendors – Aras, Arena, Autodesk, Dassault, Siemens PLM, PTC and few others. You can find some of my early notes here – PLM vendors, IT and cloud strategies. The variety of cloud options made statement "Cloud PLM" practically useless. I had a chance to cover all four cloud PLM options here during Siemens PLM analyst event. One of the most challenging decisions for PLM vendors remains the "duality" of PLM cloud options – public vs. private. After few years of slow ramp up, all PLM vendors today are placing "cloud options" on their roadmap. So, the question "How to implement PLM cloud?" is the the one that you need to focus on when thinking about what is right PLM option for you.

I’ve been following Dassault #3DXforum for the last few days via twitter. The following slide caught my attention, since it presents clearly the spectrum of PLM deployment options Dassault is going to support – public cloud, private cloud, on premise cloud and on premise. It also gives you some idea about timeline. On premise, public and private cloud by 2014 and on premise cloud for 2015+.

ds-dfl-all-clouds

It looks like Dassault doesn’t want to miss the cloud movement and makes public and private cloud a priority. It would be interesting to see more about architecture specific, data centers, supported IaaS and PaaS options. The only information I can get from the Develop3D tweet is 6 global locations. Which sounds like a very impressive achievement. It is not clear what is behind on premise cloud option. I can guess about some combination of data storage location or mix of application deployed from multiple clouds. This is just a guess -not much you can see online.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here to stay. However, cloud architecture and deployment options will evolve and morph actively for the next few years. It is hard to run on all options. Therefore, to focus on right match between customer interests and operation maturity looks like to direction PLM companies are trying to follow.Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: Dassault didn’t sponsor and didn’t not influence the content of this post.


PLM, demolishing silos and closed BOM loop

June 24, 2014

bom-closed-loop

Product development and manufacturing is getting more complex every day. The complexity comes from both direction – product definition complexity and globalization in manufacturing, supply and customer experience. As we move towards future cloud software, the importance of data platforms is growing even more. For the last 15-20 years, we are living in a realm of siloed and fragmented parts of business applications. Integration and connectivity heavily relies on integration services and expensive integration toolkits.

PLM vendors understand the importance of broader integration beyond engineering department. We can see it in the strategies and acquisition patterns. The following two examples can show you what I mean. Navigate to the following article by Engineering.com – "Demolish the silos in PLM": Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience is explaining the vision and strategy of Dassault. The following passage is my favorite:

The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”. Every company has a promise to their customers and that promise is eventually realized through a value creation process that touches many different points within an organization. Now, to ensure that a brand promise is consistently and sustainably delivered it has to be managed across the entire enterprise, and we have assembled the necessary IT tools.” He adds that so far PLM has just been about helping companies to develop their products, ”But the world has moved beyond the product; the end-customers are demanding experiences around the product” and the secret of market success is to be able to innovate not only on the product, but also on the experience.

Another example came recently from PTC Live 2014 forum in Boston. The following blog post by Monica Schnitger gives you a very good outline and links to keynotes video recording. However, my attention was caught by another blog by Joe Barkai – Closed Loop PLM. Joe outlines PTC vision to connect important lifecycle tools in a single product lifecycle workflow. Here is the passage explaining that:

While the vision – and company executives acknowledged it’s still a vision rather than a product roadmap – is correct, the tools and “solutions” in PTC’s portfolio are separated by a noncontiguous business strategy (SLM and ThingWorx operate as separate business units), and by the lack of a digital backbone, shared data models, common taxonomies and unified workflows. It will be interesting to see how PTC is going to move from a strategically rich but fragmented portfolio to realizing a connected PLM architecture.

Sooner than later, PLM vendors will come with platform strategies and implementation that connecting complicated product lifecycle. Meantime, engineering, manufacturing, supply and consumer spaces are disconnected and can create some real problems. Few days ago, I stumbled on a very interesting article – Keep a sharp eye on SSD bill of materials by DIGISTOR. The article takes you to the reality of disconnected Bill of Materials between OEM manufacturers, suppliers and consumers. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is my favorite passage

It appears that manufacturer PNY Technologies has committed the same sin, releasing SSDs with varying BoMs. A TweakTown reader contacted Ramseyer and described how the SSD that the individual purchased did not feature a BoM that matched up with one previously reviewed on the website. According to Ramseyer, that reader bought the PNY product because of his glowing assessment of its performance. Because of the shifting BoM, however, that individual’s SSD did not hit the same benchmarks. A representative from PNY admitted that the company had shipped out SSDs with disparate BoMs, qualifying the move by noting that all of its products fall within "minimum advertised performance levels." When manufacturers neglect to lock down the components within their BoMs, consumers and business users may wind up with a product that doesn’t meet their expectations.

What is my conclusion? To close product lifecycle loop from product requirements to actually physical devices with specific supplied components is a big challenge. It requires significant coordination and integration between applications and data sources. I can see the intent of PLM vendors to come with platforms and solutions. Cloud technologies will play a significant role in the way companies will try to demolish silos and synchronize data across multiple application boundaries. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Dassault PLM for next generation – zero files and cultural change

May 23, 2014

plm-ds-cultural-change-3dexperience

Usually, it takes time and money to implement PLM system for a large company. This work requires understanding of customer business processes, learning about problems, establishing strategy and making actual implementation. This is what many people implementing PLM is calling – business transformation. It takes time to people to adopt to a new way of work and new product development processes.

I have mixed opinion about business transformation. It is clearly good thing- to establish new and clean way to manage product development. However, it comes together with price tag of implementation complexity – a result, PLM stuck to provide solution for SME. As we speak, many manufacturing companies are looking for agile alternative of complex and expensive business transformation PLMs.

The new buzzword of modern technological reality is "experience". We don’t develop software application any more – we design experience. This is a nice term and it clearly came as a result of modern software web and consumer oriented platforms. Apple and some other companies played a significant role in that change. Changes are coming to PLM world as well.

I just learned, about future Dassault System plans to re-invent PLM with 3DExperience. I’ve been reading Engineering.com PLM/ERP article – "Demolish the silos in PLM": Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience. Have a read – this is an interesting article about future DS plans.

So what I found there? Cultural change. Not more and not less. New Dassault PLM platform will will demand cultural change. Well, what does it mean practically? It is not clear yet. I found few passages that brings some engineering language about meaning of 3DExperience.

“The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”.

"CAD for instance, has been a separate world all these years, where you’ve been collecting requirements from disconnected environments, and the same types of barriers surrounds the job all the way through product development to manufacturing."

The main idea behind DS’ 3DExperience is to provide the IT tools needed to break down the silos and connect the development work not only to software, electronics and manufacturing, but also to the end-customers.

Breaking silos was PLM objective for many years. I’ve been discussing it on my blog before. For example, take a look here -PLM, Organization and Information Silos: Good, Bad and Ugly. Bill of materials solution has also very siloed organization – PLM: Bill of materials and silo syndrome. For the last 20 years, breaking organizational silos was always IT task focused on information integration. I remember few successes, but it was a very complicated and tedious work. Will 3DExperience do it differently? Who knows. The jury is still out to watch it.

What is my conclusion? I think, the key question is related to cultural change. How new 3D Experience platform will support the way organizations are transforming into horizontal, flat and connected structures? If the process of natural organization transformation will match new concepts and philosophy of 3Dexperience platform, we might see some good outcome. The biggest problem of PLM for the last 10-15 years was adoption that required organizational transformation. If cultural change will eliminate the need of PLM to fight for organization change, we can see the adoption level of 3DExperience system skyrocketing in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Top PLM Vendors. Let’s face it – every vendor has its strength…

May 20, 2014

PLM-vendors-SWAT

One size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true in enterprise software. It also applies to engineering organization and manufacturing companies. Every organization is trying to come with a strategy how to organize engineering, product development, manufacturing, maintenance and other related functions. So, the same applies to PLM vendors. It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison of PLM vendors and products. Details are important and without knowing small parts, it is hard to recommend as well as publish something that can be re-used in a general way. However, what to do if you need to choose or at least make some comparison of PLM vendors and their products? I’m sure you are familiar with SWOT analysis. It made me think about PLM vendors SWOT…

My first reaction was – no… this is probably mission impossible. In the past Gartner made Magic Quadrants. It provided a reliable source of information to compare software products and vendors. The last PLM Magic Quadrant (PLM MQ) I remember was done in 2007. I think Gartner stopped to produce them. I reproduced last PLM MQ in my blog – PLM Perfect Storm 2012. I hope you will agree with me – it is very hard to made any decision based on that chart.

PLM analyst Jim Brown from Tech Clarity produced a very interesting set of publications recently – Strategic visions of major PLM players. In addition to that, Jim also published separate articles describing PLM vision for Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC and Siemens PLM. It is a very good read – I certainly recommend you to spend few days analyzing what is strategic mind of key PLM vendors.

Honestly, I cannot see how possible to create a generic PLM vendors SWOT. Kill me if you want. A specific comparison can be done for one customer case or industry. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up and wanted to finish this post. It made me think about what is single top strength of every PLM vendor. Well, this is probably doable… Because, each of these top 4 vendors is doing many different things, I need to scope what I mean by PLM here. The agreement about “what is PLM?” is another interesting discussion topic. I won’t go there today. In current post, I limit PLM to what called cPDM (according to segmentation proposed by another analytic company – CIMdata).

So, too many disclaimers… This is a time to show things off. Here is the list of top 4 PLM vendors with single, most significant strength. I listed vendors alphabetically, to prevent any speculation about order or priorities.

1- Autodesk PLM

Autodesk is a new player in PLM market. Back in 2012, Autodesk introduced cloud PLM offering – PLM360. A combination of this story together with Autodesk broad reach in all industries and markets is clear advantage. So, here is Autodesk PLM strength: Autodesk PLM360 cloud story, channel and partnership opportunity.

2- Dassault Systems

The history of Dassault PLM is going back to first large PLM implementations Dassault made in aerospace and defense industry. In my view, Dassault focus was to create an ultimate integration story between CATIA products and related parts of data management and collaboration of ENOVIA. Thus, I can see CATIA-ENOVIA vertical integration as the major Dassault Systems’ PLM strength.

3- PTC

Originally started from Pro-E (now Creo) product line, PTC developed and acquired several PDM/PLM products. These days, PTC PLM offering relies on Windchill platform. Windchill is a very mature product that keeps the original pure web architecture. Windchill scalable product and architecture is clearly strongest part of PLM from PTC.

4- Siemens PLM

Siemens PLM has probably the largest PLM (cPDM) marketshare covered by multiple TeamCenter products developed in the past. These days, TeamCenter is Siemens PLM flagship platform absorbing all existing and new developed PLM products and customers. Therefore, I consider TeamCenter product line maturity and install base as the biggest strength of Siemens PLM.

What is my conclusion? What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? PLM products are multifunctional. PLM industry is complex. I wanted to mention “single the most significant strength” that applies to both – company and product. Every specific case can bring additional aspects that can highlight variety of characteristics and product parameters. If you are selecting PLM now, I can recommend to read my old post – How to choose PLM? , which is a bit outdated (from 2010) and check another one – 7 rules for selecting PLM in 2014. Again, as usual, nothing scientific. These are only my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Update (22-May-2014)

As I expected, this post raised lots of comments. I appreciate all my readers that came back with comments and questions for the last 2 days since I published this post. The largest amount of comments addressed the absence of two products/vendors from the list – Oracle/Agile and SAP PLM.

5- Oracle / Agile PLM 

Historically, Oracle acquired Agile PLM, which was one of the biggest neutral (not involved into CAD-related business) PLM vendors. For the moment, the core strength of Agile PLM is Oracle market share and family of product as well as out of the box functionality related to BOM management.

6- SAP / PLM

The core strength of SAP PLM is the fact it comes from SAP. The usage of SAP in a company as a platform is long term strategic decision. As soon as company decides for SAP, the strength of PLM addition from SAP will allow to cover all aspects of product development processes that not involving design and engineering.

What is my conclusion (22-May-2014)? To create good comparison is an interesting work. Few months ago, I’ve been posted about Crowdsourcing and PLM consultants’ future. For the moment, I feel like this post is making real field test. Again, appreciate all comments that help to make this article better.

Another minor update for blog title. Number “4” is not relevant, so let’s get rid of it.

End of Update (22-May-2014)

—————

Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee now. In case you want to see it, here is my LinkedIn profile. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions – expressed or implied – of my employer (present and past).


Will CAD / PLM companies develop DB management systems?

March 1, 2014

cad-plm-database-future

The history of databases and database management systems knows many periods. Most of us developed strong association between database management systems and relational databases (RDBMS). Since 1970s, when Edgar Codd invented relational database during his work at IBM, RDBS became widely adopted. For the last 20-30 years, most of PDM / PLM developers selected RDBMS as a default choice and foundation of their solutions. Until very recently, RBDMS was a straightforward decision to manage product data in organizations. There are multiple reasons for that. One of them is compliance to the requirements of enterprise IT. Because of wide adoption of RDBMS, enterprise organizations and their IT felt comfortable to run enterprise applications on top of well known and widely adopted database back end system.

However, changes are coming to database industry too. Database and data management technology is going through cambrian explosion of different options and flavors. It is a result of massive amount of development coming from open source, web and other places. Few months ago, I spoke at TechSoft3D tech talks in Boston about PLM and future of data management in 21st century. You can find my post and link to the presentation here. The technology shifts towards usage of different database management systems or even multiple database management solutions these days. Database is a tool. When you develop complex data management solution, you may decide to have multiple databases to achieve your goal and optimize your solution. Here is a slide from my last year presentation showing pros and cons of different data management solutions.

PLM-and-database-options

Modern CAD / PLM applications are bringing new requirements and needs to database management systems. The complexity of application is skyrocketing. At the same time, customers’ demand to have systems highly flexible and configurable. Customization, high scale and transparency, new complexity of meta data management – this is only short list of challenges PLM developers are facing these days. New cloud software development paradigms created a completely new set of needs towards high availability, performance and cost. I’ve been talking about future of database technologies for CAD/PLM solutions two years ago. Navigate here to read my previous post. My conclusion back that time that PLM vendors will face the need to have new types of databases and data management solutions.

My attention was caught by GigaOM article two days ago – CAD giant Dassault leads new $14.2M investment in NuoDB. NuoDB is four years old database startup out of Cambridge, MA is promising to shift what we know about RDBMS into the next level. According to publications and press releases, NuoDB wants to re-write the rules for a 21st century database. Another GigaOM article presents 12 rules NuoDB defines to create a superset of existing RDBMS. Some interesting buzzwords you can see there – elastic scale out, single logical database, dynamic multi-tenancy, non-stop availability, etc.

Another one year old publication informs that Dassault Systems has tested NuoDB on their desktop and web applications. This fact confirms that Dassault is looking how to future develop cloud capabilities of their 3DEXPERIENCE (also known as V6 cloud platform). Here is my favorite passage:

Dassault Systemes, maker of 3D design software, has tested NuoDB on its Web and desktop applications extensively over the past year, said CTO Dave Tewksbary. In a presentation, Tewksbary went through NuoDB’s list of feature and performance claims and gave the company strong passing grades. However, Dassault focused on smaller implementations of the database during its tests, according to Tewksbary. "We haven’t gone as far as we’d like to go." Given the complexity of Dassault’s products, officials are eager to see how NuoDB performs when running on hundreds or thousands of nodes.

What is my conclusion? Cloud system development can change what we knew about databases and database management systems. The challenges of CAD and PLM companies to develop and maintain a diverse and highly scalable database management solution can turn them to be more interested in specialized cloud-oriented databases. Running from private and public cloud, enterprise software is not limited anymore to mainstream RDBMS prescribed by company IT. Even more, companies will be interested to develop and use the most efficient and cost effective database management solutions. It will help to develop future differentiation in technology and cost. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future of PLM vendors differentiation?

January 26, 2014

plm-vendors-differentitation

Differentiation. Competitive advantage. Value sales. I’m sure you’ve heard these buzzwords many times. Competition is part of everyday business life. Usually, I don’t speak about competition. I searched across my blog and founded only one reference to competition related writing – PLM Competition Toolbox. But I want to look in my crystal ball today. Here is the article that made me do so. Over the weekend, I’ve been reading Joe Barkai’s blog post – How To Win Without Differentiation. Article speaks about how to develop differentiation strategies and what to do when differentiation is not coming easy. I liked the following passage:

When value differentiation is too vague and difficult to demonstrate, price competitiveness does not work. Potential buyers seek other ways to drive their decisions, and, as Vermeulen points out, they rely on other factors, such as the seller’s brand, status in industry, and prior relationships. In other words, the buyer switches from assessing and comparing features and costs to differentiate based on the brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.

The article made me think about PLM vendors competition and differentiation. PLM industry is dominated by small number of large vendors (namely alphabetically – Autodesk, Dassault, Oracle, PTC, SAP and Siemens PLM). There are some specific competitive niches each of these companies were developed for the last 10-20 years. However, looking on websites and public marketing materials about PLM solutions, I can see less visible difference. These companies are targeting similar businesses and within time it is not simple to get value differentiation between brands.

Enterprise software is an interesting business. One of the characteristics of software for engineering and manufacturing is lifetime customers and legacy software. The lifecycle of customers in this domain is relatively long. It goes from extremely long in defense, aerospace programs to long in automotive and others. To get familiar with engineering software (such as CAD and PLM) takes time and effort. You need to cross educational barriers. So, when you already “in”, the entrance barrier for competitor is getting bigger. Overall investment and significant amount of customization play another role. This business is different from selling smartphones. After spending few millions of $$$ on a specific solution, it is very hard to justify the replacement of this solution with a competitor.

So, what will differentiate PLM vendors in coming 10 years? What will become future competitive advantage? Technology will obviously play some role, but I mostly agree with Joe – “Don’t oversell technical wizardry. Buyers of enterprise software and services consider your product roadmap and long-term commitment to the space as much as they do to your product features and engineering skills. So, it is very hard to create sustainable technological advantages in this market. Very few companies succeeded to do it in the past and kept it for a long time.

However, there is one thing that getting more and more value points. I call it “vertical experience”. Sometimes vendors call it “industry practices”. However, it can go much more beyond what vendors are doing today in this space. I can see specific vertical solutions focused on design patterns, bill of material management, change management, services, suppliers related to particular segment or industry. The niche can be big enough to serve business of service providers as well as provide an impact on overall vendor business. This is a place where PLM vendors will be able to show big value to customers and fast implementation ROI. It is not simple and it takes time and dedication.

What is my conclusion? Vertical (or industry) specialization can become a future goldmine for PLM vendors and solution providers. To develop deeply integrated solution including specific behaviors in data and process management is not a simple task. Customer experience is something that very hard to gain. However, once achieved it can be leveraged for a long time. Industry verticals can become a future differentiation factor for large vendors and startup PLM companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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