Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to re-check…

March 6, 2015

plm-cloud-landscape

The question how to implement PLM cloud is one of the most confusing when it comes to the decision about choosing one of available PLM solutions on the market today. The time when PLM vendors used "cloud" as a differentiation is over. Most of PLM vendors are comfortable with "cloud" word and the number of companies considering cloud as part of their PLM strategy is growing. How to decide what is the right cloud strategy for you? The dilemma of public vs private cloud is one of the most challenging for many companies.

My attention was caught by ReadWrite web article – You Think Private Clouds Are More Stable And Agile Than Public? Think Again. The article provides a set of good arguments for public cloud option. Here is my favorite passage:

Of course, your CIO’s job is only truly threatened by the public cloud if she chooses to fight it, or mindlessly continues to believe she can build a better cloud than Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. For 99.999% of enterprises, building your own cloud or data center may be a comforting way to stick with old habits, but it’s generally going to be the wrong decision. While there are certainly workloads that will perform better or need to be secured within the four walls of your firewall, the reality is that most infrastructure belongs in the cloud.

No, You Can’t. It’s a convenient fiction that public cloud is unreliable compared to private IT. But let’s be clear: it’s fiction, not fact. Here’s the reality on public cloud up-time: last year Amazon Web Services managed 99.9974% uptime despite hefty growth and unparalleled pressure on its infrastructure. Google was even better at 99.999% uptime. (Microsoft Azure performed a bit worse, though still quite well, according to the Cloud Harmony data.)

In lights of this article, I decided to make a check and see what cloud options are supported by different PLM vendors. Here is a short summary of my discovery (alphabetical order of vendors).

1- Aras PLM is supporting Azure public cloud and, in addition to that saying that Aras is capable to run on any cloud infrastructure (public and private). Here is the link to Aras website.

2- Arena Solutions is cloud solutions. There is no specific information on the website about public vs. private options. My assumption, Arena is public cloud.

3- Autodesk PLM360 is cloud only solution. There is no specific public vs. private information on PLM360 website. My assumption PLM360 is public cloud.

4- Dassault Systems announced to support all cloud options by 2015. See my blog about it. I cannot find a link to a specific cloud configuration available for the moment. The following link presents a list of ENOVIA on the cloud products.

5- Oracle Agile PLM is available via hosted environment. The link with more information is here via Oracle partners. I wasn’t able to find specific information about public vs. private cloud options. More information is here.

6- PTC PLM cloud is supporting both private and public cloud options as you can see it from PTC website. Here is the link, which presents PTC cloud portfolio stating private instance for both premium and enterprise cloud options.

7- SAP cloud applications website is not providing any link to PLM solutions. At the same time, SAP PLM website has zero references to cloud solutions.

8- Siemens PLM is supporting IaaS based cloud deployment. According to the information on the following link, TeamCenter is compatible with Amazon Web services and future support is planned for IBM and Microsoft clouds.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM vendors are supporting public cloud. It is a real change and it just happened over the past 2-3 years. However, devil is in details. A specific architecture of cloud solution can make a difference. In the past, I put several articles discussing details of cloud technologies. The following link can be a good starting point to discuss definition of true cloud PLM solution. In a nutshell it comes to 4 things – available on demand, hosted, elastic, global access. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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


Oracle Cloud PaaS will provide a magic button for PLM

September 29, 2014

oracle-hq

Cloud PLM architecture and implementations is one of the topics I’m following for the last few years. It is interesting to watch dynamics of this space from initial ignorance to careful recognition and marketing buzz. I can see differences in how PLM vendors are approaching cloud. In my view, nobody is asking a question “why cloud?” these days. At the same time, we can see large variety of strategies in cloud PLM implementations and strategies. I guess PLM vendors want to answer on the question – How to implement cloud?

The element of infrastructure is important. The strategy of Siemens PLM – one of the leaders of PLM market is heavily relying on IaaS option. I covered in my post here. At the same time, Dassault is promising to support all PLM cloud options by 2015+.

I’m following Oracle Open World these days online. Gigaom article. Earlier today, the following article caught my attention – Oracle launches upgraded cloud platform with its database and Java available as a service. One of the key elements in Oracle cloud strategy is reliance of Oracle database.

oracle-db-paas

This is my favorite passage from the article:

Oracle detailed on Sunday evening its upgraded cloud suite that includes the ability for customers to use its flagship database in the cloud as well as on-premise. Executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison talked about the new platform, now available, during his keynote session at Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference. Ellison (pictured above) attempted to persuade the audience that Oracle’s rejiggered cloud platform can be the all-in-one shop for users to run Oracle applications, house their data and even build out their own applications while choosing whether or not they want any or all of those items to run on the cloud. “This new Oracle in the cloud allows you to move any database from your datacenter to the cloud like pushing a button,” said Ellison. Oracle’s cloud platform consists of a software-as-a-service (SaaS), a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) in which all three are needed by Oracle to better serve its customers who have been clamoring for the company to provide cloud services, explained Ellison.

oracle-cloud

 

multitenant-oracle-db

The point of moving any database from your data center to the cloud is fascinating. It made me think about future path to the cloud for many PLM vendors. Most of them are using Oracle database for core database functions. The specific architecture of each PLM product can be different, but to have Oracle responsible for running database in cloud environment can be an interesting opportunity to simplify cloud architecture. Instead of hosting databases using IaaS platforms, PLM products can use multi-tenant Oracle PaaS.

What is my conclusion? Major PLM vendors are looking how to “cloud-enable” their existing product and software architectures. The promise to move database from data center to cloud like pushing a button might be a bit on a marketing side. This is an alert for PLM software architects. IT managers responsible for PLM implementation can take a note to ask about how to move Enovia or TeamCenter into Oracle PaaS. To have Oracle multi-tenant database running by Oracle PaaS is an interesting option, for sure. 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


PLM and Oracle New Full Text Query

August 28, 2013

Are you familiar with 1% internet rule? It is also called 90-9-1 principle. According to this rule, only 1% of internet users are actively involved into content creation. Even 1% percent rule cannot be applied as-is to enterprise, my hunch retrieval of data (or data access) becomes more and more important these days. The amount of data in enterprise organizations is growing. To get access to this data is a critical IT requirement.

Companies are thinking about different ways to access data. It comes in a form of search, reports, analysis and many others. All I said above, applies to manufacturing companies and PLM systems. Traditionally, engineering uses, which represents a majority of CAD/PLM users from the beginning are very concerned about data creation – CAD design, Simulation, Drawings – all these elements assumes creation of information. However, when it comes to user adoption, the problem of data consumption comes to the place.

While the question of noSQL database adoption by PLM is still open, my guess the majority of PLM implementation in the world are running on top of RDBMS and probably with heavy presence of Oracle databases. On this note, Oracle recently updated its database to include XQuery Full Text Search. The following article in AMS Tech blog provides lots of useful information about this full text search query functionality and code examples.

What is my conclusion? New technologies like noSQL and others are cool. However, while you have to support many existing customers in production, usage of existing mainstream database technologies can become an interesting option. I’m not sure it will be become a life saver for Oracle databases in the race against other databases options. Nevertheless, to solve customers problems is a priority. Full text query can provide some cool search capabilities to existing implementations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM, Information Discovery and Excel Provisioning

July 17, 2013

Excel is one of the most widely accepted PLM systems. PLM vendors and consultants may disagree with this strong statement. Despite that, I believe the amount of product data that lives today in Excel spreadsheets spread around organizational servers and cloud storage like Dropbox and Google is huge. The main reason companies are getting into DIY Excel PLM business is related to simplicity of data capturing and Excel ease of use. Long time ago I blogged about Why do I like my Excel spreadsheets. In my view, 4 years blog post is relevant today too.

One of the trends that I can see today is related to establishing of services helping people to discover the information. Widely spread product data can be very useful when it comes to the point of decision making, design reuse and analyzes.

Oracle acquired search and data processing outfit Endeca last year. I was following Endeca activity for some time. One of the articles caught my attention yesterday – David Sowerby at 3sixty-analytics outlines the setup in, Endeca Provisioning – ‘Self Service’. The article describes how you can find a spreadsheet, load it into the system, experimenting with the data and getting the results. Here is an interesting passage:

The future direction of Endeca by including a feature described as ‘Provisioning’. In practice, this is the facility to load a single spreadsheet, perform some simple but useful data cleansing, and then let Endeca generate an application. Although it currently only loads a single spreadsheet per application, it is a great way to see some of Endeca’s capability first hand, and also to act a hands on introduction to building an application from your data.”

The following Oracle video shows how you can work with data and create applications.

The idea of creating application out of Excel data, made me think about past experience and technologies invented during my previous work at Inforbix. During that work, Inforbix product data crawlers loaded lots of CAD and Excel spreadsheets data and provided a way for customer to explore this data using simply and easy to use interfaces – tables and charts. Saved queries can be stored for future use.

What is my conclusion? The value of information is getting more and more important these days. Lots of organizations understood that data reuse and information discovery can provide a significant value to organization and help to improve decision process. The cost of data migration, cleansing is high. Therefore, applications that can make it possible getting more and more focus. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


What Oracle Results Mean for PLM vendors?

March 29, 2013

For many years the business model of CAD, PDM and later PLM vendors was structured as high upfront license combined with continues maintenance payments. The same is true for many other enterprise software vendors. PLM vendors built their businesses around expensive licenses sell covering significant sales cycle cost and even pilot implementations. The majority of PLM software is running on top of relational databases (RDBMS) licensed from big 3 vendors – Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. Back in 2010, I posted Faltered licenses and future PLM business models. 3 years ago it sounded as something that will never happen to enterprise software. However, things are going differently in 2013. Navigate to ReadWrite Enterprise article Oracle big miss and the end of an enterprise era. The author, Matt Asay, VP of 10gen, the outfit behind noSQL open source database MongoDB is clearly biased with the disruptive ideas and business models coming to the enterprise space. Even so, some of his assumptions in the article resonated. One of the key points – Changing the way how vendors get paid. He doesn’t see the problem of bad sales execution, but a fundamental shift in technology and product landscape. Here is my favorite passage:

This isn’t just a matter of improving legacy software products. It’s a matter of fundamentally changing how these legacy vendors deploy and charge for software. For example, Oracle’s entire cost structure is built around the premise of a hefty upfront license and high-margin maintenance (Over 20% of the license fee). We believe the primary issue is a fundamental shift in the technology landscape away from legacy systems towards a new breed of better products at a lower cost both in Apps and in Data Management. Virtually every emerging software trend is having a deflationary impact on spend.

Another aspect of disruption is related to developer communities. Software developers and CIOs of enterprise companies are looking for technological platforms. They don’t like the idea of expensive licenses and approvals of enterprise vendors to develop software on top of their platforms. As a result of that, they are turning to open source as an option to have their “platform of choice”. Here is a interesting quote:

With the rise of open source…developers could for the first time assemble an infrastructure from the same pieces that industry titans like Google used to build their businesses — only at no cost, without seeking permission from anyone. For the first time, developers could route around traditional procurement with ease. With usage thus effectively decoupled from commercial licensing, patterns of technology adoption began to shift…. Open source is increasingly the default mode of software development….In new market categories, open source is the rule, proprietary software the exception. The top-down approach, in other words, is losing its currency within the enterprise, as both open source and cloud enable developers (not to mention line of business executives) to get work done without getting permission.

So, getting back to future PLM business models and ways to disrupt PLM today, what does it mean for PLM vendors? I want to outline 3 main points:

1 – Alternative business models.

Customers are looking for alternatives to existing PLM licensing models. The biggest conflict here is between high cost of lucrative PLM licenses and interests of PLM vendors to take PLM software upstream and downstream in the organization in order to increase usage. However, adoption speed of PLM software is low. High cost of additional licenses is one of the factors preventing customers to expand the usage of PLM software. PLM vendors need to think how to provide flexible portfolios with options allowing to customers to spread PLM systems and technologies across the enterprise.

2 – Diversify revenues and activities

PLM vendors need to learn from the past of IBM and some other vendors. Years ago, IBM reshaped their business from software licenses to services and consultancy. IBM was extremely successful in this change. We can see how existing enterprise software vendors (Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, etc.) are trying to diversify their activities by providing new services and solutions. PLM vendors might be taking a similar path in the future.

3 – Pay attention to open source disruption

Open source is disruptive. Period. It is very hard to compete with free software and good technologies that can be used to develop solutions. Mainstream web is running on top of open source technology foundation. New generation of developers are coming with a significant baggage of knowledge and experience in this space. PLM vendors, system integrators and service providers need to take a note, until it will be late. You future competitors are developing from Starbucks shop next to your office.

What is my conclusion? I think, Oracle miss is a big alert sign to PLM companies. Changes are coming. It will come from customers that will be looking for alternative business models, from developers that cannot tolerate an expensive infrastructure and from technological vendors that will propose alternatives to expense PLM infrastructure. All together it will move PLM industry towards new horizons. PLM vendors need to take a note. Just my thought…

Best, Oleg


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