More cloud PLM from Oracle and Aras. Are we in cloud rush?

December 10, 2014

plm-plug-in-cloud1

Cloud PLM is a trending topic among software vendors these days. As I mentioned earlier in my post, the question these days is not why should we do cloud PLM, but “how” to make it happen. PLM vendors are choosing different strategies and technologies for their cloud PLM solutions.

My attention was caught by two updates that came almost at the same time from Oracle and Aras. Both are related to cloud technologies and offerings.

Oracle blog article – How Oracle’s New PLM Cloud Solutions Help you Compete More Effectively speaks about Oracle PVC (product value chain) cloud, which contains there main cloud offering – product innovation cloud, product development cloud and oracle product hub cloud. The following passage explains it in details:

Start with one idea – or thousands. Select the best ideas that match product requirements using Oracle Innovation Management Cloud. Next, use the Oracle Product Development Cloud to classify and manage all the product’s components and manage costs and supply risk. The Oracle Social Network is included, so you can start conversations, find solutions, and make decisions fast. You’ll also have access to live infotiles, which provide the analytics you need to see when your product is ready for launch.When your product is ready to go, the Oracle Product Hub Cloud provides a single, protected view of your distribution, supplier, and channel partners. You can synchronize your commercialization network and launch new products on target.

oracle-pvc-cloud

The picture above gives you a visual impression. It interesting how magic word “cloud” added to every activity type that previously was just “management”. At the same time, we can see how Oracle product offering transformed. Navigate here to get more information about product service cost.

TenLinks article Aras Releases Microsoft Azure Certified Cloud PLM Suite is a second news in the domain of cloud PLM. Aras Corp was following their enterprise open source concept since 2007 is expanding and became available as cloud offering too.

aras-azure-cloud

The following passage highlight the advantage of cloud offering for global companies with the need to get fast ROI from PLM implementation.

Certified version of the Aras Innovator enterprise PLM solution in the Azure virtual machine gallery of cloud applications in the Azure Marketplace. The new Aras offering is ideal for global companies with an Azure account that need to quickly deploy a full PLM suite for the supply chain, joint ventures, fast moving product lines and other applications.

What is really interesting is to get more information about how many manufacturing global companies have Azure account. I wasn’t able to find this information. My hunch, Microsoft is actively focusing on large enterprises with cloud offerings.

Azure page with Aras offering is proposing to create virtual machine with Aras Innovator PLM suite 10. However, the information about pricing is somewhat confusing. Instead of almost traditional /per user /per month cost, it provides “computing cost” information. However, link “free trial” hints me that customers can do it for free at the beginning. More information is here.

What is my conclusion? It is fascinating to see how software vendors are shifting gears to leverage cloud technologies and change business models. Efficiency, competition, cost. These are things that absolutely important to manufacturing companies these days. Cloud PLM can be a technology and tool that will help customer to make it happen. PLM vendors are trying to turn cloud into their advantage. The technologies both Aras and Oracle are using are clearly different, but the underlining trend is clear. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Mobile CAD and PLM development options

December 10, 2014

mobile-web-cad-plm

Mobile PLM is one of the topics I’m following on my blog. You probably remember my post – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments. Today I want to speak about technological aspects of mobile development. For the last few years, mobile development took us into the world of multiple platforms and device compatibility. I posted about challenges of mobile and native web development in the past – Mobile PLM: Apps vs. Mobile Browsers? and Mobile PLM Native Apps Challenge.

If you think, mobile development is “native apps” now, there are some of good news on the horizon. ReadWrite article – What Google Has In Store For The Mobile Web brings few interesting data points about underline mobile development from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Article mentioned Apples WKWebView inclusion in iOS 8 as well as Microsoft’s WinRT. Google’s Chrome team is working to improve performance. If you want more technical details, the following article – The future of Web according to Google can give you deep insight. I found the following passage capturing the momentum well:

In other words, Google is about to bring the Web back to parity with native. In some ways, actually, it’s making the Web better than native, because the Web doesn’t have the same problem with app distribution that app stores have. As Google makes the Web a first-class citizen on mobile, there will be less cause to worry about Apple and Google duopolizing our newly mobile world.

One of the main aspect of to be in love with native mobile apps is offline. It is a huge factor and today native apps have an advantage here. However, it won’t stay that way for long time.

Offline is a big deal, it’s one of the most defining features of native apps vs. web in today’s climate. As Alex Russell put it in his talk: “It isn’t an app if it doesn’t run when you tap.” Once ServiceWorker lands [around the end of 2014], it’s only a short time later that we’ll see Push Notifications in the browser (they use ServiceWorker to coordinate). This will mean that, with a simple permission opt-in, a website will be able to notify you days, weeks, or months after you visit it. With the growing importance (and interactive nature) of notifications on mobile platforms, it’ll be great to see the web get to participate.

What is interesting that even today some iOS and Android apps are not purely native. Here is an interesting chart I captured from another ReadWrite article – HTML5 has a new best friend –and it is Apple, not Google.

native-web-dev-in-mobile-apps

These mobile web news made me think again about what it can give to CAD and PLM developers in a near future. PLM vendors invested in mobile development and you have mobile app for almost every PLM today. It added lot of complexity to development team – getting back to web can be a good news for development and product managers working to align mobile and web features. Offline wasn’t supported for most of mobile app, so it was never a case. However, offline work can be a big deal, especially for CAD tools.

What is my conclusion? CAD and PLM development (as well as most of enterprise software) has longer lifecycle compared to consumer application. To cut development cost can be interesting option for engineering team. Users will have benefits of better alignment in functionality between mobile and web versions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How PLM can leverage Azure analytics?

November 13, 2014

azure-ml-microsoft-plm

Analytics is a hot word these days. You can hear it everywhere. It sounds and feels sweet and smart. You can think about crunching data and getting results. It sounds very Googley? Indeed, Google is spending lot of money making Google cloud platform more affordable. Google provides some interesting online services that can be used to crunch significant amount of data and draw insight. Learn more here – What is BigQuery?

Actually, Google is not alone in the goldrush for data and analytics. VentureBit article – Microsoft gives out free access to its Azure Machine Learning service. I think, it is a very good news for enterprise software developers. To have a competition between two giant companies will make service more affordable for long run. Another VentureBit article can give you more information about what is behind Azure Cloud. Here is my favorite passage:

Azure ML, which previews next month, will bring together the capabilities of new analytics tools, powerful algorithms developed for Microsoft products like Xbox and Bing, and years of machine learning experience into one simple and easy-to-use cloud service. For customers, this means virtually none of the startup costs associated with authoring, developing and scaling machine learning solutions. Visual workflows and startup templates will make common machine learning tasks simple and easy. And the ability to publish APIs and Web services in minutes and collaborate with others will quickly turn analytic assets into enterprise-grade production cloud services

The link to access Azure machine learning is here. You can try it with your real projects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJtNJepz-pM

Azure ML made me return to one of my recent articles- What is potential of product lifecycle analytics? One of the scenarios I’ve been talking there was product forecasting as part of NPD (new product development) process. To launch new product is a big deal for manufacturing companies. It can lead to lot of expenses. What if you can make it by applying some analytics and get some insight on the future of new product, performance, sales, customer base, etc?

What is my conclusion? Cloud infrastructure companies are looking how to feed their platforms with data and scale to more customers. This is clearly the goal for Microsoft, Google and other companies in this domain. PLM companies are interested how to provide additional value to customers. Engineering and manufacturing companies are operating in a very dynamic businesses eco-system. For many of them, new product introduction is an essential critical part of business decisions. So, this is a note to established PLM companies. However, this is also an opportunity for engineering and manufacturing startups. Free services is a best way to check technology with real customers. It sounds like a common interest and technology to leverage. Customer will judge results. Just my thoughts…

Best,Oleg


Competitive edges of SharePoint and PLM collaboration

November 5, 2014

microsoft-sharepoint

SharePoint is an interesting product and technology. I’m following it already few years. I can see some kind of love and hate relationships between PLM vendors and Microsoft SharePoint business. You can catch up on some of my thoughts about SharePoint in my previous posts – SharePoint PLM Paradox; Why PLM should care of SharePoint?; PLM SharePoint thoughts. SharePoint technology was successfully used by some PLM products (eg. SolidEdge SP) and discontinued by others (eg. PTC ProductPoint). With these two extreme examples, I guess most of CAD/PDM/PLM vendors are keeping neutral position with regards to SharePoint. Most of them are supporting some sort of integrations typically done by partners and service providers.

One of the issues that makes many customers and vendors confused is a comparison and sometimes even competitive positions of SharePoint. With increased demand for enterprise collaboration and information sharing, many customers are concerned about how both technologies can interplay in the organization. I put some of my thoughts about that in my post last year – How to stop comparing PLM and SharePoint?

Real story group blog SharePoint is no longer a swiss army knife caught my attention and made me think about SharePoint and PLM again. Also, chart shows SharePoint usage by different type of application. It also made a highlighting of new, mature and light usages.

sharepoint-usage-survey

The following two categories – project oriented collaboration, document management and simple file sharing shows probably a dominant place of SharePoint mature usage. From my experience, these categories demonstrates why many companies are confused about PLM and SharePoint. For many of them, the initial phase of PLM – project collaboration and CAD file management can create a feeling of functional overlap.

The situation is getting even more interesting with new wave of cloud products developed by CAD/PLM companies and new startups. The focus of some of them is clearly to solve a problem of document management for engineers, file sharing and project collaboration. It is not obvious that these companies are going after the same market niche as Microsoft. At the same time, I can smell some levels of competitiveness there.

What is my conclusion? SharePoint is mature and successful technology. Microsoft has strong enterprise positions and with new Microsoft strategy for enterprise cloud can become even more dominant player. My hunch, PLM companies should make another round of thinking how to live together or compete with Microsoft SharePoint and connected social collaboration products. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Microsoft SharePoint and RealStoryGroup


How cloud pricing war will affect PLM?

October 3, 2014

plm-and-cloud-price-war

Large infrastructure cloud providers are slashing prices. TechCrunch article Nobody Can Win The Cloud Pricing Wars is providing some additional details about the situation. The same article speaks about the moment when CIOs won’t be able to ignore the pricing advantage:

Earlier this week, Google lowered prices 10 percent across the board on their Google Compute Engine cloud platform . The cost is getting so low, it’s almost trivial for anyone to absorb the costs of running infrastructure in the cloud, but you have to wonder as the cloud pricing wars continue, how low can they go and if it’s a war anyone can win.

In spite of the low prices, there are still plenty of companies talking about the cloud with disdain and fear, but the fact is how long can CIOs ignore pricing as it goes this low? It doesn’t make good business sense, and whatever risks a large enterprise believe they might face with cloud services, it has to be offset by the plunging costs.

Are you confused by comparison of cloud infrastructure prices? You are not along. GigaOM article provides one easy chart that will help you to demystify cloud prices.

RBC’s formula condenses cloud services into one unit price based on “total spend per GB of RAM,” which includes storage, compute, memory, I/O and other base features. That makes it easier to compare cloud pricing across vendors. Per a research note from RBC analyst Jonathan Atkin this week, the second half of 2014 saw less price cutting than the first half — which included a round robin of competitive cuts from Google, Amazon and Microsoft in March.

RBC-cloud-price-per-GB-RAM1

The devil is in details and I’m obviously interested to see how it will impact (or not) PLM vendors. When it comes to "cloud", not all PLM vendors are the same. While most of them are publicly announced cloud strategy, the diversity of cloud solutions is pretty much high – public cloud platform, leveraging IaaS cloud layer and developing of colo-hosting solutions.

It is important to see business aspects of cloud PLM. Thomasnet article by Verfi Ogewell PLM Market Faces Challenges, Hints at Possibilities provides an interesting perspective on PLM market and impact cloud PLM created. Read the following passage:

One problem in assessing PLM investments for 2013 and beyond has to do with the changing licensing models, a matter which to some extent is connected to merging technology platforms, like the cloud. Increasingly, vendors are moving from paid-up licensing models to subscription models. Paid-up models have annual maintenance fees in the range of 18 to 22 percent of the license purchase price. Subscription models demand payment each year that is in the range of 30 to 40 percent of today’s list software pricing.

Has the hype around PLM in the cloud resulted in customer investments? So far, the answer is no. In fact, it may be the other way around. The cloud has affected the pricing and results on the on-premise market negatively, plus, while many PLM vendors have offerings, most have yet to see any real returns on their investments. Meanwhile, the discussion of SaaS (software-as-a-service) has created expectations of at least more effective pricing models. This picture may change quickly if the new business models for delivery and support of PLM act as triggers for greater investments.

So, what will cloud infrastructure price drop means for PLM vendors? My hunch, this is a good news for PLM vendors hosting their solution on IaaS infrastructure. This is very costly option, especially with existing "on-premise" single tenant PLM architecture. Lower price will allow to PLM vendor to adjust their expenses. It can be even more beneficial for vendors building optimized cloud PLM multi-tenant architecture. However, it probably won’t impact vendors focusing on private and hybrid cloud infrastructure. While regardless on PLM architecture, 50% of PLM project is services cost provided by vendors and implementers, the overall impact of infrastructure cost will have less impact.

What is my conclusion? Cloud pricing war will impact customer mindset. It will increase customer demand to lower cost of PLM solutions. It will shift CIO’s perspective on how to leverage cloud infrastructure in their business. Low cloud infrastructure cost won’t make cloud PLM software free tomorrow. At the same time, it will help PLM vendors to adjust overall cost of PLM services and implementations. Better architecture of cloud PLM solutions will help vendors leverage offsets in infrastructure cost to bring more cost effective PLM cloud services. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD companies and cloud storage strategy

July 7, 2014

cad-cloud-storage-strategy

Cloud storage is changing fast these days. From relatively small portion of our life limited mostly by online email, cloud storage is growing into space where majority of our activities are happening these days. Email, photo storage, online documents, calendars, shopping – this is only a short list. Changes are coming to corporate world as well. New York Times article Google, Microsoft and Others Delve Deeper Into Cloud Storage for Businesses speaks about trajectories of cloud storage and business. Here is an interesting passage:

Soon, keeping your digital goods will also be the means for tech companies to understand who does what inside a business, just the way they understand consumers by watching what they do on the web. “Storage is where the stickiness is,” said Jeffrey Mann, vice president for research at Gartner. “It’s how they hold a customer. If they store your stuff, they get to know you better.”

So, you may think the strategy is to hold data and keep customers as hostages for storage. It might sounds like a strategy for short term. However, web giants don’t see storage as something that will hold companies strategically. The following passage can give you a feeling of direction:

“Cloud storage is a temporary market,” said Scott Johnston, director for product management for Drive, Google’s online storage, document creation and collaboration business. “In the future it will be about elevating productivity: How do we look for patterns? What does it mean if a document is read by 10 percent of the company? What does it mean if you haven’t read it yet?" It’s a strategy that Microsoft is also pursuing with its OneDrive product. Dropbox, a storage site popular with consumers, and Box, a storage and collaboration site specifically for business, are both also working on ways to turn data storage into something that provides greater insight into how people are working. Dropbox started a business offering last year.

This point of view made me think about what can be a potential strategy of CAD companies related to cloud storage and operations of CAD systems. The majority of CAD business today is not in the cloud. CAD files and related information is stored on desktop computers and local area networks. How big this data and how easy and transparently companies can move this data to the cloud (private and public) and make it available for collaboration? The demand for better collaboration is huge. CAD vendors are working on cloud CAD systems. But this work is just in the beginning. Cloud storage of CAD files and seamless access by existing desktop CAD systems can be a short term CAD file management strategy. The most interesting part is coming next. If I will follow Google’s logic, companies can make analysis of massive amount of CAD data and use it for future product design improvement and better work organization.

What is my conclusion? Data is a fuel for future growth. Whoever will capture CAD data these days will have an ability to run analytic work and make that data part of future design strategy. In most of cases today, companies have very limited capability to re-use design, make analysis and predict future improvements. Cloud storage can be a first step towards future data-driven design. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Oslo & Office Graph – new trajectories in discovery and search?

June 18, 2014

microsoft-oslo-office-graph

Earlier today, Engineering.com article Search & Discover Solutions: A Google-Like Experience? introduced me to a new three letter acronym – SDS (search and discovery solution). Honestly, I don’t believe industry is looking for a new TLA. At the same time, the topic of information search is still unsolved for many manufacturing and engineering companies. Author pointing on two types of data – “structured” and “unstructured” and explains that the right solution should crunch both types of information to bring relevant results. Here is my favorite passage:

The sheer amount of unstructured data can be overwhelming, strongly suggesting administrative programs for improved searching, i.e., converting unstructured data to structured data. Then searching content in structured databases can be done with more precision; the time to find requested data is relatively faster.

What’s needed is analytic power to merge structured and unstructured data into one view, a task Google can do. Without an SDS, a company could replicate what Google does, using the same methodology as Google – but the cost would be huge. Google, however, achieves the perception of a structured view by using complex algorithms and millions of searches to present a structured view when no predefined structured view actually exists. Besides, there is simply not enough scale in a typical company to replicate this Google-like experience.

I’m not sure about how close is Google to crunch corporate data, product and part catalogs. At the same time, I found Microsoft is on track to bring some new stuff in the space of search and discovery tool. Called Oslo and Office Graph, this application and technology supposed to gather information from different “silos” and combine it together with intuitive user experience. What is very interesting is how Oslo anticipate the connection between different elements of data – websites, office documents, people, etc. and transforms it into connected explorable environment.

office-graph-plm

The following video brings a good review and perspective on what you can do with Oslo app (which is supposed to be available later this year):

Oslo/Graph took me back to my article – Will Microsoft Yammer Kill Social PLM? two years ago. It looks like Microsoft/Yammer deal starts to bring some fruits to evolving Microsoft Office /SharePoint ecosystem. The problem of information silos exists in all organizations – engineering and manufacturing are not the exclusion from the list. Oslo and Office Graph captures a significant portion of email and office social communication, which can be interesting layer for every IT organization to build solution.

What is my conclusion? I can see an increased amount of solutions focusing on how to capture graph semantics. More companies are discovering the way to capture a diverse set of data and relationships. Captured information can be used to develop new type of user experience. Will Oslo and Office Graph become a good foundation layer for CAD/PLM developers? This is a good question to ask. In the past some CAD companies had mixed experience with SharePoint based products. Time will show if Office Graph will shine as a layer to discover CAD and other product related data. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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