Kenesto revamp: does it change cloud PLM game?

October 17, 2014

kenesto-edm

It has been more than two years since I was reviewing Kenesto – an outfit founded by Mike Payne with the a strong vision to simplify process management. Navigate to the following article PLM, Kenesto and process experience to refresh your memories.

Steve Bodnar of Kenesto put comments on my blog about Google Drive and 3rd party apps with hints about some Kenesto functionality around file synchronization and cloud data management. It was a good alert that Kenesto is preparing some refresh. The following Kenesto press release caught my attention yesterday – Kenesto Extends Engineering Collaboration with New Vaulting and State-of-the-art Desktop File Synchronization. I found it interesting, since it moved Kenesto from process management cloud tool into something bigger – data management and vaulting. Back in 2012, I thought, that ability to handle engineering data is a big differentiation between traditional PLM system and cloud process management tool like Kenesto. The following passage from Kenesto press release can give a short description of the shift Kenesto made – it moved into data and file management space.

Kenesto today announced the full availability of its latest innovations – file vaulting and a pioneering file synchronization service – to enable mainstream design and engineering firms to more easily and effectively collaborate and manage their data. Kenesto’s latest capabilities also work well in conjunction with such design tools as Creo®, SolidEdge®, SolidWorks®, and Spaceclaim® for manufacturing customers and also Revit® for AEC customers, to enable file management and sharing across design workflows. This is all done while also ensuring proper handling of updates to component and assembly models connected to items and bills-of-material, for example.

I made a trip into Kenesto website. It presents a broad range of solutions – engineering design management, change management, procurement and supplier collaboration, program and project management. These are traditional PLM suspects. However, some of solutions are clearly outside of typical PLM domain – management of marketing program, PR and advertising, idea management.

Kenesto features are covering wide range of capabilities – projects, dashboard, reporting, document management, vaulting, web viewing, workflow and task management. My special attention caught Enterprise-class File Synchronization. This is an interesting feature and it made me think about cloud PDM functionality and cloud file sharing. My blog- Cloud PDM ban lifted. What next? speaks about growing interest of PLM and other vendors to apply cloud technologies to PDM – space that traditionally tried to avoid cloud-touch. So, Kenesto just joined the cloud of cloud PDM vendors and I need to add Kenesto in the list of companies open for cloud PDM competition.

kenestoDesktopSync

What is my conclusion? It looks like Kenesto decided to change the trajectory of Kenesto technologies and moved from process and workflow management to a full scope of product data management and lifecycle solutions. I guess Kenesto prefers not to use traditional PDM, PLM buzzwords. However, Engineering Data Management (EDM) acronym made me feel a bit nostalgia… At the same time, cloud sync and in-browser office files editing tools can provide an interesting differentiation in cloud-era. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: Kenesto didn’t sponsor and didn’t influence content of this blog post.


PDM 101: Engineering Document Management Fallacy

August 30, 2013

We love new technologies and trends. However, from time to time, I want to get back to basic topics of engineering and manufacturing software. The topic I’d like to discuss today is Engineering Document Management (EDM). This post was triggered by DM vs. EDM article by Scott Cleveland on 2PLM letter. Here is the passage Scott use to explain the main difference:

Document management can be as simple as saving a document to a protected directory. It could be any of the document management software packages like SharePoint. Engineering document management is a different beast. Engineering document management follows some basic engineering rules. The concept is that of a vault.

Later in the article engineering rules are explained as access control, version control, process states (create, change, release) and audit trail.

I found myself a bit confused by this definition. There are many document management systems that will comply with rules described above. However, I’d not recommend to use these systems for engineering document management purposes. I took a look in wikipedia and here is what I found. Navigate to the following wikipedia link about Document Management System (DMS). The article is quite comprehensive. Here is a short passage that defines DMS:

A document management system (DMS) is a computer system (or set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents. It is usually also capable of keeping track of the different versions modified by different users (history tracking). The term has some overlap with the concepts of content management systems. It is often viewed as a component of enterprise content management (ECM) systems and related to digital asset management, document imaging, workflow systems and records management systems. Document management systems commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities.

Later in the article, I found a very useful table describing functions and components of document management. One of the them (very important) is Versioning:

Versioning is a process by which documents are checked in or out of the document management system, allowing users to retrieve previous versions and to continue work from a selected point. Versioning is useful for documents that change over time and require updating, but it may be necessary to go back to or reference a previous copy.

Now, let’s move forward and see what wikipedia states about Engineering Document Management (EDM). I didn’t find a separate EDM article. The most relevant one was Technical Data Management derived from Document Management System (DMS). I captured the following important passage:

A Technical Data Management System (TDMS) is essentially a Document management system (DMS) pertaining to the management of technical and engineering drawings and documents. Often the data are contained in ‘records’ of various forms, such on paper, microfilms or on digital media. Hence technical data management is also concerned with record management involving purely technical or techno-commercial or techno-legal information or data.

Wikipedia article compares TDMS and DMS in a following way:

TDMS functions are conceptually similar to that of conventional archive functions, except that the archived material in this case are essentially engineering drawings, survey maps, technical specifications, plant and equipment data sheets, feasibility reports, project reports, operation and maintenance manuals, standards, etc.

In my view, these days, most of people are associating Engineering Document Management directly with PDM. Navigate to wikipedia page EDM page and you find a confirmation to that (Engineering Data Management, also known as Product Data Management).

So, what is so special and different about Engineering Document Management that confuses many people? In my view, it comes down to the type of data system is managing. It is about CAD models, Drawings, Design, Simulation, etc. This data is semantically rich and contains lots of connections and constraints. To manage versions of Excel files is easy. Many document management systems can do so. However, to manage versions of SolidWorks or Inventor assemblies is not so simple. You need to track dependencies between parts, drawings and other elements of interconnected data.

What is my conclusion? Semantic complexity makes engineering document management complicated. It is all about connections and data dependencies. This is a specialty of engineering document management software. To manage revisions of interconnected files is complicated. It cannot be done on a level of single file and requires different approach. Engineering Document Management (today mostly known as PDM) is a special class of data management solutions used for this purposes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Cloud PDM and 10GB Emails

November 28, 2012

Last year I blogged about Google’s cloud and CAD/PLM readiness. Navigate to the following link to refresh your memories. The trigger for that post was Google’s announcement about personal storage scale up to 16TB. Could you imagine that number? Ask manufacturing companies about size and scale of their storage. Few of them will come even to 10TB of engineering drawing storage. My conclusion last year was that cloud infrastructure will grow. We clearly can see it now.

The following Mashable publication and Google announcement caught my attention yesterday. Here is the passage explaining what you can do.

Google announced Tuesday that it will be integrating Google Drive into Gmail, a move that will make it possible to send files up to a massive 10GB in size over email. A new button in the Gmail compose window will give users the ability to attach a file from their Google Drive account rather than attaching the file itself to the message. Once it’s attached, Gmail will ensure that your recipient has permission to view the file in your Drive account -– or will prompt you to grant that permission –- and then sends the message.

Google’s announcement made me think again about how many companies are sharing data and collaborate. File servers, Emails, Excel and file attachments is the most widely used configuration of so-called “DIY PLM”. Does it work well? I don’t think so. At the same time, for many companies this is the only affordable solution. What is IT alternative to the companies struggling to solve their data management and collaboration problem? The possible solutions are going from SharePoint and homegrown systems to basic PDM packages. None of them are perfect. Many people in the companies are sharing data using Google and Dropbox and avoiding complicated IT infrastructure.

What is my conclusion? I think, vendors need to make a note. The fundamental engineering data management problem is not resolved for many companies. People are still struggling to implement PDM and share engineering documents across the organization. Will these companies move to Google cloud tomorrow? I’m not sure about that. Will “frustrated users” try to use Google to share data between people? Possible. Most of IT infrastructure projects, including SharePoint are not ready to handle this problem yet. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How to streamline PLM?

December 10, 2011

One of the biggest problem I can see in all PDM / PLM tools is a high level of the complexity. I’ve been thinking about it many times. After observing this industry for quite some time, I started to come to conclusion that solutions are becoming more complicated without becoming more functional. I’ve been reading the article The case for stripped-down enterprise 2.0 tools on by Moly Bernhart Walker. He was quoting Tim Young of Socialcast. Here is my favorite passage:

"Simple tools are incredibly powerful," said Young Nov. 15, during a keynote at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. It’s very difficult to solve a complex problem with a complex tool, he added. What we’ve been doing with customers is actually moving away, stripping away functionality and making it very, very simple by just focusing on one or two activity screens. And we’ve actually begun to see the value in this," said Young.

I decided to pull few old pictures of EDM and PDM tools and take a look on them from the angle of PLM 2012.

How to strip-down PLM?


I think, we’ve been obsessed by the power of computer, higher screen resolution and interest to push additional functionality in the PLM software. It is a time to stop and think. Here is the slide from last presentation I’ve made during Autodesk University 2011.

PLM software is bloody complicated. To find a right strip-down option will be an appropriate way to think about the next PLM solution.

What is my conclusion? PLM was born many years to solve the problem of product development in complex defense and aerospace companies. Since that time, software vendors passed a long way developing new functionality. However, I don’t think it made solutions better. It is very hard to remove functionality for existing software. At the same time, I don’t see any alternative to that in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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