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

 

 


Why Siemens PLM can develop PaaS option

July 16, 2014

cloud-paas

PaaS is a category of cloud computing service providing platform and solution stack. This service model is including not only computing infrastructure (IaaS), but also application design, development, testing, team collaboration, integration features, database integration, scalability, security and others. In addition to that, it might provide service management capabilities such as monitoring, workflow management, etc.

As cloud market becomes mature, IT, customers and application development are looking into complete solutions. All PLM vendors are in full swing into IaaS cloud PLM option. Cloud PLM experience brings the need to dig more into nuts and bolts of cloud business. It includes understanding of cost, scale, service maintenance, application development, partnership. So, fundamental question many vendors and customers have is what is the best way to make cloud PLM efficient? Understanding of PaaS option is an important step. I shared some of my thoughts about PaaS and PLM before- Cloud PLM and PaaS dilemma, Will cloud PLM develop PaaS options?

My blogging buddy and well known PLM analyst Chad Jackson tweetstormed what he learned at Siemens PLM about furure TeamCenter platform development. While I’m still waiting for full blog post on Chad’s Lifecycle Insight, the following filtered tweetstorm can give some idea about Siemens PLM platform strategy:

chad-jackson-siemens-plm-tweetstorm

It resonated with my previous thoughts about cloud PLM and PaaS and made me think why Siemens PLM as well as any other PLM vendor can consider PaaS as a right option for their cloud PLM strategy. Here are my 3 reasons to develop PLM PaaS:

1- Agile development.

Vendors should be able to go fast in the development of applications, ability to customize existing features and supporting new opportunities. Businesses are much more dynamic these days. Everyone wants to be agile. PLM vendors too. So, to get up to speed with business, PLM vendors need to have a stable platform to build on. PLM PaaS can be one.

2- Better upgrade strategies

Let’s take marketing gloves off. Regardless on deployment options (on premise; private cloud; public cloud), you need to deal with upgrades. Databases, services, data model changes- this is only a very short list. PaaS can hide upgrades from customer and application developers by providing a stable platform layer. This layer requires less frequent upgrades.

3- Scaling factor and cost.

Cost is important. Cloud is not cheap as many of us thoughts from the beginning. Customers are demanding new business models and optimized cost. The development and customization cost is another problem. Scaling and keeping cost low is also huge challenge. Utilization of enterprise servers is still relatively low. PaaS can answer on the question how to share resources and scale with low cost.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM vendors took IaaS option as a starting point to develop cloud business. It is okay and will provide important experience from different perspective – technologies, business, user interface. However, IaaS won’t remove fundamental enterprise PLM issues – implementation complexity, upgrade challenges, high diversity of requirements and business changes. PaaS option can become the next logical step to optimize platform and application for agile delivery. It looks like Siemens is making steps towards this direction. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


OpenStack for Private Cloud PLM?

June 12, 2014

openstacklogo

The debates about cloud and PLM are in full swing. In my view, Why Cloud? is a wrong question these days. I think, the question "How to cloud…?" comes to the first place. One of the most prominent discussion is about private vs. public cloud. The concern about potential leak of corporate knowledge is a valid concerns. For companies in heavy regulated industries private or hybrid cloud is probably the right solution compared to widely used public clouds from Amazon and other cloud infrastructure vendors.

My attention was caught by ReadWrite article – The Open-Source Cloud Takes A Step Toward Simplicity. OpenStack is fast growing free and open source cloud computing platform primarily deployed as an Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) solution. It is available under Apache license and currently managed by OpenStack Foundation.

The article speaks about company Mirantis that decided to simplify the deployment of OpenStack. The result is product – OpenStack Express hosted by IBM Softlayer infrastructure. Here is a passage from article that will give you the idea what is that about:

Mirantis hopes to change that with OpenStack Express, an OpenStack-as-a-service offering hosted on IBM’s Softlayer infrastructure. It’s intended to make deploying OpenStack easier and faster, freeing developers to focus on their applications. IBM provides the data center underpinnings, and Mirantis provides the software and 24/7 support for the self-service, on-demand offering, the first of its kind in the OpenStack world.

"What Amazon does for public clouds, we do for private clouds," said Adrian Ionel, CEO of Mirantis. OpenStack Express essentially lets you rent bare-metal servers that don’t get shared with other customers, quickly deploy software, and manage everything via a console.

The idea to have easy deployed IaaS platform for private cloud is interesting. It can become an ideal platform for many manufacturing companies looking for cloud solutions and still having concerns about public cloud. It is also a benefit for for PLM software vendors that will be able to provide their cloud PLM platforms on both private and public cloud with minimum infrastructure changes.

What is my conclusion? Development cost and maintenance is critical factor for every cloud PLM providers. This is one of the reasons many of them are focusing on public cloud only. However, availability of Amazon-like private cloud platform can be a game changer in PLM cloud adoption. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Cloud PLM Scaling Factors

November 26, 2013

plm-cloud-scale

Scale is one of the most fancy word which is coming in place when different technologies are discussed or debated. So, speaking about cloud CAD, PDM and PLM, the discussion must go towards "scaling factor" too. Since PLM Cloud Switch finally happened, it became clear, vendors and customers will have to go down from buzzwordy statements about "cloud" into more specific discussions about particular cloud technologies they are using. Very often, cloud deployment is related to so called IaaS (infrastructure as a service) used by vendors to deploy solutions. PLM vendors are using IaaS as well. I’ve been talking about it a bit in my post – Cloud PLM and IaaS options. In my view, Siemens PLM provided the most bold statements about following IaaS strategy in delivery of cloud PLM solutions. At the same time, I believe all other vendors without special exclusion are using variety of IaaS options available on the market from Amazon, Microsoft and IBM.

An interesting article caught my attention earlier today – Google nixes DNS load balancing to get its numbers up. Article speaks about Google demoing cloud platform scaling capabilities. Google blog articles provides a lot of details about specific setup used for tests and measurement:

This setup demonstrated a couple of features, including scaling of the Compute Engine Load Balancing, use of different machine types and rapid provisioning. For generating the load we used 64 n1-standard-4’s running curl_loader with 16 threads and 1000 connections. Each curl_loader ran the same config to generate roughly the same number of requests to the LB. The load was directed at a single IP address, which then fanned out to the web servers.

It is not surprising that Google put some competitive statements trying to differentiate itself from their major competitor – Amazon. Here is an interesting passage from Gigaom writeup:

“Within 5 seconds after the setup and without any pre-warming, our load balancer was able to serve 1 million requests per second and sustain that level.”… this as a challenge to Amazon Web Service’s Elastic Load Balancing. ”ELBs must be pre-warmed or linearly scaled to that level while GCE’s ELBs come out of the box to handle it, supposedly,” he said via email. Given that Google wants to position GCE as a competitor to AWS for business workloads, I’d say that’s a pretty good summation.

The discussion about cloud platforms and scalability made me think about specific requirements of cloud PLM to scale and how it can be related to platform capabilities. Unfortunately, you cannot find much information about that provided by PLM vendors. Most of them are limiting information by simple statements related to compatibility with a specific platform(s). However, the discussion about scaling can be interesting and important. Thinking about that, I came to the 3 main group of scaling scenarios in the context of PLM: 1/ computational scale (e.g. when PLM system supposed to find design alternatives or resolve product configuration); 2/ business processing scale (e.g. to support a specific process management scale in transactions or data integration scenarios); 3/ data processing scale (e.g. required to process a significant data imports or analyzes). Analysis of these scenarios can be an interesting work, which of course will go beyond short blog article.

What is my conclusion? Coming years will bring an increased amount of platform-related questions and differentiation factors in PLM space and enterprise in general. It will come as a result of solution maturity, use cases and delivery scenarios. Cost of the platforms will matter too. Both customers and vendors will be learning about delivery priorities and how future technological deployment will match business terms and expectations from both sides. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Cloud PLM and PaaS Dilemma

June 4, 2013

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS… Most probably you are familiar with this abbreviations. These are fundamental layers in cloud computing these days. IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a service. PaaS stands for Platform as a Service and, finally, SaaS stands for Software as a Service. These concepts were around for some time. SaaS is probably one of the earliest and it became a delivery model for many software providers these days. Salesforce.com, Google Apps, Workday – this is a very short list of notable SaaS providers. On the opposite side, IaaS offers virtual computing power – virtual machines, servers, storage, networks, etc. Amazon delivered the most reliable IaaS infrastructure today – AWS. Other competitors are scratching their heads these days trying to understand how to compete with that.

Let me get back to engineering, manufacturing, PDM and PLM. IaaS and specifically AWS became a mainstream for almost everybody. It is hard to find development organization that is not using AWS for some purposes. Massive amount of cloud applications today are dependent on IaaS cloud infrastructure. Some of PLM vendors decided to to leverage the power of IaaS to turn their existing solutions into cloud ones. I covered this topic couple of months ago here – Cloud PLM and IaaS Option.

The part of SaaS is clear as well. We can see a growing number of cloud (SaaS) applications. Notable vendors in PLM are Arena Solutions, Autodesk and some others. The topic I want to discuss today is PaaS. According to PaaS wikipedia definition

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a computing platform and a solution stack as a service.[1] Along with software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), it is a service model of cloud computing. In this model, the consumer creates the software using tools and/or libraries from the provider. The consumer also controls software deployment and configuration settings. The provider provides the networks, servers, storage and other services.[2] PaaS offerings facilitate the deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software and provisioning hosting capabilities.[3]

Here are few examples of notable PaaS providers – Heroku, Windows Azure, Google App Engine, and few others. If I think back to the idea of turning you PDM/PLM application to a platform in a conventional (pre- PaaS world), than I will think about usage of PLM as a platform to develop variety of applications and implementations. If you remember history of PDM /PLM platforms, you probably agree with me that it took a significant effort and time to leading PLM vendors to create platforms that can be easy used and evolve in the future is incredibly complicated tasks. Still existing platforms such as Enovia, TeamCenter and Windchill are complex and hard to use. It made me think more about PaaS and ability of PLM to leverage PaaS in the future.

The following article caught my attention last week – The problem with PaaS. Read this article and make your opinion. According to the article, the central paradigm of PaaS is to provide development and deployment environment to the user. I found the following passage interesting. It describes the problem very well. Take a read.

The central idea of PaaS is the CSP provides a development and deployment environment to the user. True, PaaS abstracts the underlying infrastructure, but that’s the role of the IaaS underneath the PaaS platform. The goal of PaaS is to abstract the development environment details themselves. Unfortunately, building an abstraction at this level is extraordinarily difficult, because developers typically require fine-grained, hands-on control of their development environments. Change a classpath or config file setting or environment variable or any number of other nuts and bolts that make up a coder’s day-to-day work environment, and everything the developer has built will crash and burn.

What is my conclusion? What is the future of PLM and PaaS? It is a complicate task to build a scalable, flexible and expandable PLM platform in the cloud. Some vendors are following this path now and some of PLM vendors are looking how to turn their existing systems into cloud PaaS. I can hardly see how cloud vendors will be able to leverage existing PaaS because of complexity of implementations, integrations and system conflicts. It would be very interesting to see if one of the existing cloud PLM products will turn into scalable PLM PaaS. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


IaaS, Cloud PLM and Disruptive Pricing

January 18, 2013

PLM vendors are continuing to adopt cloud. I can clearly see a difference between people attitude for cloud solutions now and 4 years ago. Here is my simplistic definition of changes that happened for the last 4 years. The following sequence represents a typical reaction on "cloud PLM" for the last 4 years. 2009: What is cloud? 2010: Why I need cloud? 2011: Why not to use cloud? 2012: How to use cloud?

The last question, actually, has multiple angles. It means all – technology, implementation, product licenses and finally pricing model. The last one is obviously important and I can see some interesting dynamics between cloud and on premise software in coming years. The following Infoworld article caught my attention – Oracle’s faux IaaS now gets faux on-demand cloud pricing by David Linthicum. Take a read. I found it interesting. Oracle is a king of enterprise software market has a lot to lose when it comes to cloud adoption. I found the following passage the most interesting:

Oracle’s "on-demand private cloud" isn’t merely an equipment lease either. It’s an odd hybrid created because Oracle finds itself stuck between the rock and the cloud, reluctant to devalue its hugely lucrative enterprise software products by folding into cloud-service pricing. The rise of cloud computing very much goes against Oracle’s highly profitable way of doing business: enterprise license agreements, maintenance contracts, and all the other trappings of big software.

2013 is perhaps the first year where Oracle will feel real pain from public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and Google, as well as emerging private cloud providers such as Eucalyptus and those based on OpenStack or CloudStack.

I made me think more about what happens in PLM vendors ecosystem. Traditional PLM vendors (Siemens PLM, PTC and Dassault) are selling premium lucrative enterprise oriented packages with a lot of functionality and value behind that. Autodesk is a newbie of PLM market is playing "cloud alternative game" with SaaS prices and less functionality out of the box. Aras Corp. is providing Aras Innovator using disruptive enterprise open source. I can see some similarities in the attempts of traditional PLM vendors to embrace cloud technology and delivery models. You can see how Aras position their solution as "true cloud" with all advantages of cloud and on premise software. Aras leverages Microsoft Azure platform. Navigate to this link to read more. Siemens PLM introduced TeamCenter IaaS option delivery few months ago. I wasn’t able to get information about IaaS and cloud prices for both Aras and TeamCenter. Both website provided contact option to request the price, but no price.

What is my conclusion? Cloud plays a disruptive roles these days in many markets. Enterprise software is one of them. We can see an interesting combination of vendors, IT and infrastructure providers plays. IaaS vendors will keep existing technological platforms afloat by providing a seamless cloud infrastructure environment to support existing server-client and web technologies. Oracle is a good demo how vendor can reposition and tailor technology model to new conditions. I think, we will see lots of "cloud innovation" from traditional PLM providers in a near future. For a long run, cost matters. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cloud PLM and IaaS Options

November 3, 2012

Cloud is trending, and PLM vendors are starting to take some advantages of the cloud solutions and infrastructure. The most-recent announcement in the cloud PLM was related to Siemens PLM and TeamCenter. You can find the announcement by navigating to the following link -Teamcenter on the Cloud: Faster Time to Value, Dynamic Scalability and Lower Cost of Ownership. The important part of the announcement was this passage.

Teamcenter on the cloud enables companies to move some, or all, of their computing infrastructure to a third-party cloud service provider versus investing in their own hardware. This gives customers cost effective access to enterprise grade IT infrastructure and resources without the need for capital expenditure. Siemens now supports Teamcenter on three of the leading cloud services, Microsoft Windows Azure, IBM SmartCloud™ Enterprise+ and Amazon Web Services. The company has completed a certification and enablement program for Teamcenter delivered on each of these service provider’s IaaS offerings. The dynamic scalability of Teamcenter on the cloud provides faster time to value and a lower cost of ownership for customers.

You probably noticed magic word "IaaS" in the announcement, which means Infrastructure as a Service. According to Wikipedia, IaaS can be explained as computers or computing resources (CPUs, Virtual Machines, Storages) provided virtually. Here is a passage from Wikipedia to explain that:

In this most basic cloud service model, cloud providers offer computers, as physical or more often as virtual machines, and other resources. The virtual machines are run as guests by a hypervisor, such as Xen or KVM. Management of pools of hypervisors by the cloud operational support system leads to the ability to scale to support a large number of virtual machines. Other resources in IaaS clouds include images in a virtual machine image library, raw (block) and file-based storage, firewalls, load balancers, IP addresses, virtual local area networks(VLANs), and software bundles.[48]

I think the term should be explained. About a week ago, one of the leading analytical companies – Gartner, announced their Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Public IaaS. You can navigate to the following Fobes article to read more. Gartner Public IaaS MQ research is not available via the public link. However, the report was for promoted for free by few companies mentioned by Gartner in the report. So, you can navigate to one of the following links to get (note, you will need to register and leave your contact information to vendors) – Dimension Data or Savvis.

So, the picture below provides a view on Public IaaS providers. In other words, if you need virtual machines, storage and CPU for your solutions, and you are ready not to ask your IT department to provide one, you can go to these companies. In most of the cases for manufacturing companies, your IT people will be involved into making an agreement with one of these companies to expand an existing cloud infrastructure.

I wonder to check where companies mentioned by Siemens PLM announcement appears in Gartner MQ. Amazon is the one and probably cannot be disputed. Amazon Web Services is number one from the standpoint of execution and leadership. However, Amazon can be costly. Gartners mentioned pros and cons of Amazon offering. Amazon has power, resources, capacity and largest network of partners. Note the following passage.

AWS is a price leader, but it charges separately for optional items that are often bundled with competitive offerings, including enterprise-grade support. Prospective customers should be careful to model the costs accurately, especially network-related charges, to normalize comparative costs based on actual compute performance, and to compare the costs of reserved and unreserved capacity.

Interesting enough, another vendor mentioned by Siemens PLM – IBM, was dropped from the list. Gartner didn’t provide specific explanation why it happened. However, Gartner provided general guidance why it can be done. The third IaaS provider (also big name – Microsoft) is not on the list too. Gartner provided an explanation about vendors that were considered by not included. Here is the passage:

There were also providers that did not have public cloud IaaS offerings in general availability by June 2012, but had launched betas. Such providers include Microsoft (which introduced a persistent VM capability into Windows Azure, thereby giving it full IaaS functionality along with PaaS), Google (which introduced Google Compute Engine, an IaaS offering) and HP (which introduced HP Cloud Compute).

What is my conclusion? Big game and big players. IaaS is a mainstream technology today. There are many companies in public space that completely dependent on IaaS infrastructure. Lots of startups (especially on the web) became possible only because of the power and cost of IaaS. PLM vendors are moving there as well. The obvious questions that need to be answered are related to cost, security, certification, availability. Will PLM cloud vendors hide relationships with IaaS vendors in their offering? Siemens PLM didn’t provide any commercial information and requested to contact Siemens directly. In the past PTC did a similar thing with hosting of Windchill via IBM. Aras made an agreement with Microsoft Azure. Dassault didn’t provide clear explanations. Some of Dassault solutions are available as SaaS one 3D Store. Other companies like Arena and Autodesk PLM 360 are providing their solution as SaaS offering. There is no obvious decision. Make your analyses and check options. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture courtesy of IBM IaaS Smart Cloud website.


“True Cloud” Solution and PLM Competition

July 2, 2011

CAD, PLM and engineering software world is very competitive. Time ago, CAD vendors competed on the number of features. It is not unusual to see lists that comparing features and functions. However, nowadays the competition on features becomes useless. In the era of iPad apps and Web 2.0, you can just say that this application isn’t cool enough :). I’m almost not following competitive conversations online, and you can rarely see such a type of topics on my blog.

The following Vuuch blog article struck my attention – Vuuch is the first "true cloud" PLM application. Take a time during your 4th of July long weekend and read this article. My good fried, Alex Neihaus is taking the conversation to the level combining some competitive statements mixed with really geeky and cloud language. Here is my favorite passage from this blog:

…despite lots of strategy talks with customers and high-concept keynotes at user conferences from the big PLM vendors, the first company across the finish line with a true cloud application for the PLM community is Vuuch…

…To be a true cloud app, it’s not enough to have a web portal that users access. That’s what Gmail is. Instead of your messages being stored on an internal server behind a corporate firewall, they are stored on Google’s servers. Big deal. That ain’t what we call cloud. To really be a cloud app, the application must have an API that can be called remotely. That is, it must not only have UI, it must be callable from other applications, using cloud technologies…

I found this definition a bit shocking and decide to provide some clarification about cloud technologies that can help to readers to translate this from geeky to normal.

Cloud Computing in Various Forms

First of all, I’d like to point readers to Wikipedia’s article about Cloud Computing. It is educational and provide a comprehensive analyzes of multiple aspects of cloud applications.

Cloud computing refers to the use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network (WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc.). Cloud users may access the server resources using a computer, netbook, pad computer, smart phone, or other device. In cloud computing, applications are provided and managed by the cloud server and data is also stored remotely in the cloud configuration. Users do not download and install applications on their own device or computer; all processing and storage is maintained by the cloud server. The on-line services may be offered from a cloud provider or by a private organization.

Modern development of cloud qualifes three levels of cloud based solution – SaaS, PaaS, IaaS.

SaaS (Software as a service) is a software deployed over the internet, available to the end user as and when wanted. It is also called sometime "software on demand". Payment is per-usage or subscription. SaaS can be considered as the oldest and mature part of cloud computing. Examples of SaaS are salesforce.com, Netsuite, Google Gmail and some others.

PaaS (Platform as a service) is a combination of a development platform and solution stack delivered as a service on demand. It provides the infrastructure that can be used to build a new software application or extend the existing ones without underlying cost of buying and deploying additional hardware and software. Sometimes, PaaS is used to extend the capabilities of existing SaaS solutions. Examples are Force.com (from Salesforce.com); Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) delivers computer infrastructure, typically a platform virtualization environment. It includes service, software, data-center and network equipment available as a single bundle. The best known IaaS environments are Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and some others.

PLM on the Cloud

The idea of PLM on the cloud isn’t new. The first company pioneering cloud deployment in PLM space was Arena Solution (former Bom.Com). Nowadays, vendors are talking about cloud solutions. I can see different PLM vendors are taking various strategies related to the cloud. Among 4 main companies in this space, Dassault is leading with their cloud offering based on utilization of AWS and placements of V6 platform on EC2. Autodesk strategy seems to be interesting too. On one side, Autodesk Buzzsaw is a mature application service (SaaS – according to classification above). On the other side, Autodesk is trying "cloud water" with multiple applications – some of the utilize cloud infrastructure (i.e. Amazon EC) and some of them are focusing more on mobile (AutoCAD WS). Siemens PLM and PTC are more neutral in this cloud game. Vuuch, as I learned from Alex Neihaus’ blog, is now joining PLM on the cloud race.

What is my conclusion? Competition is a tough thing. Especially, when it comes to technology. Customers are not interesting in technologies and more focused on applications these days. I’m a very happy customer of Google Apps and I don’t care if Gmail is "true cloud app" or "false cloud app". I see PLM and engineering software lives in the world of SaaS. Efficient leverage of PaaS and IaaS can be PLM cloud apps successful. Just my opinion, of course. YMMV.

Best, Oleg

*pictures are courtesy of Wikipedia and Vuuch blog


The Biggest PLM Challenge on the Cloud

March 25, 2009

We’ve had a discussion about the  future and benefits of cloud applications. Without rehashing the conversation too much, it seems obvious as to how an offering based on Cloud Computing and SaaS/PaaS/IaaS can simplify application development, streamline implementation and improve ROI. But what is the biggest challenge of PLM on the cloud?

 I think that a Cloud and SaaS offering can provide enough benefits to be launched very soon. For example, the computing capabilities initially announced by Autodesk, project Autodesk ShowRoom will make third-party computing resources available for designers. IBM, together with Dassault Systmes also mentioned Cloud computing as part of their strategies.

 Today, I’d like to raise an issue that, in my opinion, is crucial to making the PLM cloud journey successful over the long-term. This issue is Application Integration. As a system becomes more and more distributed and disparate within and across organizational boundaries, the need to keep a log? of transaction and communication between these systems also grows. This problem is already known but the capabilities of the system to be integrated for enterprise deployment are much bigger compared to future cloud-based options. In order to deploy PLM successfully, organizations will need to integration tools and processes across multiple applications.

 This problem is not unique for PLM applications, but also exists for other enterprise applications that are moving to a SaaS / Cloud zone. We can see similar challenge in the CRM and Finance Application offerings. An example of a company offering a cloud-based application that solves integration needs is Workday. Workday offers business and CRM applications. To solve their growing integration needs, Workday acquired a company called CapeClear and established an ‘Integration on Demand’ offering.

 To sum up, I think that integration will cause enterprise cloud deployments to face significant challenges and will require solutions beyond standard SOA and Web Services-based offerings. It will be interesting to see how ISVs will recognize and face these challenges.  I also would like to learn from your personal experience with this issue.


Where is the PLM shortcut to the cloud?

March 24, 2009

 I definitely think that “cloud” will become the buzzword of the year 2009. As the number of cloud-based announcements is growing, I tried to see where PLM of its into this cloud race. So far, I’ve observed three main trends companies are using to jump  on the cloud-related business.

 1.    Develop a cloud-based platform/infrastructure  

In my view, Amazon is the leader here in the way that it established an elastic cloud platform and also provided database services (Amazon Web Services, Amazon EC2, Amazon WS). Microsoft, IBM and other big IT vendors are joining the race – you can see a few announcements recently from MS and from IBM. Do a Google search for buzzwords such as SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and you will find whole bunch of relevant publications.

 2.    Use cloud services and/or a platform to develop new applications

This is not only a place for innovation for many big companies, but also an absolutely sweet spot for newcomers. The number of applications on top of established cloud services such as Amazon is growing. Where Amazon and Google look more infrastructure and data oriented, Facebook, and some others provide more social-oriented applications. What’s interesting here is the redevelopment of available utilities and tools that can  be connected and backed up with cloud services.

 3.    Integrate and/or migrate existing application offering with cloud services

This is a space where existing established ISVs are trying to balance between today and tomorrow. According to the latest Forrester research “Platform-As-A-Service Reference Architecture”, at least 50% of ISVs today are developing SaaS applications. “Increasing customer demand for software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications has already convinced 50% of software vendors to deploy some of their business applications via SaaS. The approach is turning out to be a major technology challenge, as it re-opens the fundamental platform discussion. A new set of functionality in the form of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings is leading to a new software product and services category” – says Stefan Ried, Ph.D. in his research.

  What are the possible routes for PLM-related companies within this cloud-race? One route will be moving existing enterprise application architectures onto the cloud platforms. Some of IaaS/PasS providers (like Amazon EC2) allows you to run existing applications hosted on the cloud; but some of this new IaaS/PaaS development (i.e. MS Azure) assumes that you will need to adopt this to a new application development infrastructure. Another alternative is to develop services on top of established cloud platforms. In this context, I was thinking about the possible renaissance of File Explorer (yes! New Old Stuff… File Explorer is the most widely used product data management tool after MS Excel :)).

 So, the cloud-based File Explorer could be easy and cheap for companies to start moving their PDM/PLM stacks onto the cloud. On one hand, it will leverage existing user experience, which is significantly important for users. , On the other hand, it will be backed up with strong and scalable cloud data services.

 Here is an interesting product developed by CloudBerryLab for Amazon S3. I’m sure ex-users of Norton Commander are feeling some nostalgia when you look at the design of these explorer panels.

norton_commander

cloud-explorer1

cloud-explorer2

 

I’m sure we will see Cloud-based PLM services coming very soon. I will be very interested to know you’re your feelings. Perhaps, you already have some  experience in this area.


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