Microsoft and Future Online PLM Platforms

February 4, 2011

Few days ago I published PLM Cloud: Dedicated, Private, Public. Following this post, I had few interesting conversations about what are possible platforms can be used to develop online cloud applications for enterprises. Few options were mentioned – Microsoft, Force.com, Google and some others. It made me think again about where is Microsoft in this “race to the cloud” game. So, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you and ask about your opinion.

From BPOS to Office 365

Office 365 is a new name for BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). Last October, Microsoft launched a limited Beta version online. The expectation is that Office 365 will be available in the beginning of 2011. Microsoft was saying Office 365 is a productivity suite for companies with less than 25 employees. I found the slide below is interesting to present what Microsoft is thinking about online infrastructure for productivity tools.

The actual products that comprise this offering are Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. Microsoft is playing with features in these products. In addition, in Online CRM will be added to the Office 365 offering. Thinking about small manufacturing companies I can see them potentially starting to use Microsoft onilne service. Capabilities of SharePoint as well as other Office 365 tools can be interesting. Relying on existing install base, Microsoft can offer applications online, which will become very competitive with other platforms such as Force.com and Google.

However, the sustainability of Microsoft online business is very interesting. ZDNet reports the selection of Lee Nackman to replace retiring Corp. VP of Online Services, Dave Thompson. Microsoft online challenge is big. See Business Insider’s: “Chart of the Day: Microsoft Incinerates Another $543 Million Online.

What is my conclusion? PLM infrastructure is 10-15 years old. In my view, PLM companies will be actively looking for online platforms and infrastructure to catch up consumer oriented internet companies. Will Office 365 and Azure become a platform of choice? A good question. Salesforce.com made 3 acquisitions for the last 2 months. One of them, Manymoons, is in the space of project Management and collaboration. The introduction of database.com is another sign of growing strength of non-Microsoft’s platforms. Just my thoughts… What is your opinion?
Best, Oleg


Five Online Technologies for PLM in 2010

January 22, 2010

The world of computing is very unpredictable these days. However, I’d like to bet and put some of my thinking towards something called “online” or “connected” technologies in 2010. As usual, I’d be watching these technologies in the prism of PLM with some flavor of going beyond PLM acronyms trying to understand how it can impact product design, development and manufacturing.

Cloud Computing. I think, since last year, we can hear word “cloud” more and more often. However, this is also time to think what practical benefit we can take out of this in 2010.  When most of the customers trying to cross the “cloud” with “SaaS” and imagine how all Intellectual Property they are developing is going to Google-like space, in my view, 2010 benefits will be coming differently. Existing vendors and new companies will be discovering new ways to use cloud computing power to do calculation, rendering, analytic. Another possible alternative will be to use cloud space for collaboration, but here some security questions can be raised. We need to think about effective models to secure collaboration online for engineering. This is an open call, in my view.

Business Intelligence. More specific, in comparison to cloud computing, but very frustrating, for the moment. BI is complex and expensive. Multi-core machines, double digit GB RAMs, multi-display configurations. This is still a reality in BI world, but I think this state of mind will not fit engineering and manufacturing world. Operational BI trend is interesting, and I’d expect some development happens in this space too.

Enterprise Mashups. I’m a little optimistic with regards to mashup story this year, in comparison to the previous one. I hope you had chance to read my post “Is PLM too Complex to Mashup“, but I think demand for mashup is growing and some delivery will be possible. In my view, the opportunity will come from inside of companies as much as companies will go to private clouds and advanced web architectures. This will be the important exam for all PLM vendors, since they will be requested to share information using open API, SOA and other available infrastructure.

Social Software and Networking. This is a continuation of Enterprise 2.0 trend and an opportunity to capitalize on Facebook and Twitter maturity inside of the organization. I think, we’ll see lots of Facebook-clones for enterprise PLM and community collaborative experience will be replicated many times inside of organization. However, not all of them will be successful. The biggest problem is the question: “How many social platforms we need for enterprise?“. And, unfortunately, this question will keep enterprises busy without moving forward.

Unified Communication (UC). Mail, Phone, Laptop, iPhone, Messenger, Facebook, Twitter… Too many devices, in my view. How we can navigate between all these devices in the optimal way. I think UC, finally, will become mature and corporation will try to move forward in optimizing communication. While call designers over the wall using the phone, when you can chat in the 3DLive or similar collaborative application?

So, I will be interested to discuss with you my thoughts and have your feedback. Does it fit your organizational plans or development roadmaps? Do you see similar requests coming out of your communication with customers and partners?

Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: 3D Publishing, CAD and Online Google Graphic…

December 31, 2009

The idea of 3D publishing isn’t new. For the last few years we had chance to see multiple examples of how CAD and PLM companies focused on this space by creating and acquiring products that can publish complicated 3D models in the way humans outside of engineering will be able to adopt it. PTC Arbotext, 3DVIA Composer, Autodesk Inventor Publisher- these are only few examples of these products.

The following Google SketchUp blog drove my attention with information about how possible to use SketchUp 7 Layout to create Web ready images. Take a look on video.

I think CAD/PLM vendors need to watch this space. With connection to Google 3D Warehouse, it can be targeted towards some Adobe 3D PDF features or even higher end CAD/PLM  . I’m expecting to see some news in this space in coming 2010.

How do you like it? What do you think?

Happy New Year!
Best, Oleg


3D Marketplace or Potential Content Wars

November 26, 2009

Some thoughts around future 3D Marketplace. Few days ago, I had chance to post of future of 3D Warehouse. Thanks for Architecture+ blog picking up this topic in “Looking on 3D Marketplace” blog. Even if 3D content online is only in the early beginning, it is very interesting to think about possible evolving of 3D content in the future potential 3D marketplace. I can see few potential routes for 3D content online.

1. Supply Chain. This is the most traditional route that, in my view, already happens in portals providing online catalog parts. Decentralization, outsource design and product development will make such services even more important in the future.

2. Advanced customization. Relatively new trend in my view. Ability to provide advanced customization for products. Especially, this is interesting for products sold online. Ability to generate a precise models of product for visualization can be a very interesting approach for future online market.

3. Consumers oriented content services. I can imagine this scenario as demand of customers to get more realistic product presentation and experience product features online.

Thinking about great potential of 3D content online, I also want to alert on possible conflicts or even content wars. For the last 20-30 years, 3D formats remained a hot topic and didn’t converge to standards that shared between CAD manufacturers. How it can influence future content marketplace? Reading about Microsoft’s effort to de-index content from Google’s search here, you can only imagine the level of potential conflicts between all possible 3D Content providers.

These are just my thoughts. What do you think? I’m looking forward to your comments.

Best, Oleg


Do We Need Files to Collaborate in PLM?

November 2, 2009

Picture 32Interesting publication came during the weekend related to the future of collaboration. According to the analytical research, 80 Per Cent of Enterprise Collaboration Platforms Will Primarily Be Based on Web 2.0 Techniques by 2013 Managing Users’ Transition from File-Orientation to Web 2.0 Approach Will Be a Major Challenge. The main point of research and/or prediction made by Gartner is related to the difference between so called – “file based” and “browser based” collaboration came mostly in wiki-style and web 2.0 like tools and future migrations between them.

I’d like to take it a bit future and analyze what implications it can provide for future collaboration in product development. On one side, most of CAD based collaboration tools are file-based. Files are remaining the most significant piece of information people are collaborating on. Files come to the collaboration in a very different way – CAD files (obvious), many CAE related ones, Excel Files with variate of information resided into these files.

On the contrary, we can see many tools that purely web based on hybrid with significant dissociation from file content. Collaborative tools in the style of Wikis, collaboration tools come out Microsoft SharePoint, various Web tools are coming more and more loudly shows their place in collaboration.

Separately, I’d like to say few words about CAD and collaboration. Tools like CATIA V6 and associated 3DLive presents a new way collaborate on single product content (mainly design, for the moment). What will happen to these tools in the future? Will it be the foundation for the future non-file collaboration tools?

So, what is my conclusion today? Collaboration tools are slowly starting to their move from the need to read “files” into the direction to focusing more on pure “content”. In my view, this move will be slow, but this is a way to go. So, may be in 2013 years we’ll see a completely new way to collaborate as it according to the Gartner prediction? Hmm… interesting.. What do you think?

Best, Oleg


How We Can Move Design and Engineering Content to Web?

September 12, 2009

design-on-the-cloudWeb is coming to every place. I think in retrospective and see web as a next big change in the space we call today CAD/CAM/PDM/PLM. How to re-use power of web for global product development and manufacturing? I see multiple initiatives - cloud services, collaborative spaces, social networks etc.. However, I think, when we are coming to practical implementations, there are multiple factors that preventing companies from wider web adoption. So, what are those factors?

Security and IP protection
No doubts, this is top rated concern. Companies are considering Design and Engineering content as their IP and not running fast to upload information on web servers. How it can be resolved? I think, in order to crush ice in IP protection, companies need to focus on the areas where web usage can be really beneficial for the business standpoint. A huge potential here, in my view, is in Supply Chain and IP trading. These two areas are, by definition, exposed outside the company. Introducing new services that able to sell IP as well as optimize global supply chain, can be very interesting. Just to make some parallel with newspaper and books business, which is more active this time in comparison to B2B relationship. Google just announced that they will develop micropayments system to allow limited content availability online. Such services can become a foundation of IP trading for manufacturing companies too.

Content Granularity
This is an important enabler, in my view. You cannot trade something that not granular enough. You need to be able to break your IP into selling pieces, something that can be re-used. In most of today’s systems you need to work hard even to send it to your supplier. Systems nature and IP protection are the main reasons why it happens. CAD and PLM companies need to think how to change this status-quo and becomes more open and less protective.

Accessibility and Change Management
So, you have your content, but how you can access it online? Even more, how you can manage changes of this content. Sounds like an internal problem you have today in the organization. However, moving to web, it will become a global problem in a global IP trading and supply chain. In order to change this situation we need to develo online systems to work on online content. You need to stop focus on file transfer. You will just access your online system to work on everything you have.

Well, sounds too futuristic? Maybe, but bear in mind, web is moving very fast. I think the lesson learned by publishing, news and other media companies need to be learned by CAD/PLM community in order to gain power for the future engineering and manufacturing systems.

Best, Oleg


Collaborate online – Does it make Sense for PLM?

February 24, 2009

Lately, I’ve seen a growing number of applications introducing the idea of real-time collaboration online on the same document. This idea is called co-editing, which I find cool, and I see  a lot of large and small vendors are doing this. You can see a very interesting review of these capabilities in the following post on Mashable – 5 ways to collaborate online on documents.

 

 Now, what about PLM? I see similar capabilities in CAD systems as very promising. I didn’t have the chance to see it presented in real systems today, but I definitely see trends that will, in the end, will make it happen.

 The following technologies will allow design systems to provide online collaboration:

Cloud data management – more and more data will be easily placed on the cloud storage and retrieved without any special applications. Online applications – more and more applications are running over the internet and accessing data everywhere. Internet availability – we are living in a connected world. We’re not yet connected everywhere, but we are connected much more than in the past.

 All these capabilities together will move us towards online collaboration. Today, I can point out on the DS 3DLive application and PLM 2.0 ideas. They are definitely about online applications, and I’m sure we will see more applications innovating in this space in the future. 

dassault-systemes-3dlive-product1

 


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