PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud

October 14, 2014

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Companies are moving to cloud these days. The question vendors and customers are asking today is how do we move to the cloud. I’ve been asking this question in my post few month ago – PLM / PDM: Why the cloud? Wrong question… I discovered multiple options for customers to start their move to the cloud – mainstream cloud productivity tools to share data and collaborate, to migrate existing PLM platforms to cloud using IaaS strategies as well as to build new type of platforms and tools using new type of cloud platforms and infrastructure.

Today, I want to show the perspective on public cloud from both sides – large provider of public cloud infrastructure (Google) and large manufacturing company (GE) and to see what is the intersection between their strategies.

Google – example of public cloud platform

My attention caught Google presentation – The next generation of Cloud. Navigate your browser to the following link to watch it. Besides the fact it was inspiring by the exact same question – “How to you move to the cloud”, it provided a very interesting insight on the aspect of Google public cloud platform.

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Hardware cost is declining and Google is adjusting public cloud to match economic realities. Together with economic of scale and utilization, I can see a trajectory towards decreased of public cloud cost even more in the future.

Large manufacturers move to the cloud

So, what customers are thinking about public cloud? Inforworld article just published an article presenting GE strategy to go all-in with public cloud. Presented as an interview with GE COO Chris Drumgoole, article outlines his aggressive plans to migrate to public cloud services — and how they support GE’s organizational goals. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is my favorite passage:

Drumgoole won’t talk specific numbers, but he claims that “north of 90 percent” of the apps deployed by GE this year have been in a public cloud environment. We’re big fans of the idea that everything ends up in the public cloud utility model eventually. “Eventually” is the big caveat, because some people within GE would argue that should be tomorrow, while others would tell you it’s 15 years from now. It’s a subject of good debate. But either way, the regulatory environment we live in right now prohibits it. In a lot of spaces, when we say technically that we think something should be public, and we’re comfortable with it being public, the regulatory environment and the regulators aren’t quite there yet and we end up having to do some sort of private or hybrid cloud. That’s probably one of the biggest barriers to us moving more public.

Drumgoole speaks about connected devices, big data and analytics as a significant driver to move data to the cloud. I reminded me one of my previous posts – IoT data will blow up traditional PLM databases (http://beyondplm.com/2014/09/23/iot-data-will-blow-up-traditional-plm-databases/). The amount of data is huge and it will certainly require new approach in data management. Here is the example of how much data produced by jet engine these days:

Take one of the jet engines we make, and if it’s fully instrumented. On a typical flight, it’s going to generate about two terabytes of data. Not everybody fully instruments them, but if you instrument it the way people would like in order to get predictive data, you’re talking about 500GB per engine per flight. A flight with a GE engine takes off or lands every three seconds. All of a sudden, the data gets very, very large very, very fast.

PLM vendors and public cloud

As for today, I’m not aware about any PDM/PLM software using Google Cloud as a platform. The majority of cloud PLM software built on top of infrastructure provided by collocated hosting services and variety of Amazon cloud infrastructure. Dassault Systems and Siemens PLM made few public statements about support of diverse set of cloud options and IaaS infrastructure. It would be interesting to see future evolution of PLM cloud platforms.

What is my conclusion? The technology and economic of cloud is changing these days. My hunch, it will pull more vendors and companies to use public cloud in the next few years. Software companies will try to balance between leveraging technological platforms and cost. At the same time, customers will try to balance between regulatory requirements and opportunities to make data accessible and scale without limits. Interesting time and significant opportunity. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


PLM Private Cloud: Yes, No, Maybe?

February 18, 2014

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While industry is clearly moving to the cloud, the question about choosing right cloud model is getting more important. In my view, this is kind of thing you cannot ignore any more – I expect every manufacturing company is facing a challenging decision about how to improve their collaboration by bringing new innovative cloud tools and, at the same time, answer on privacy concerns, policies and regulations.

CMSWire article Hybrid Clouds for SharePoint: Great, but Not for Everyone published some interesting perspective on the topic of public and private clouds. Article speaks about the rise of Hybrid Cloud. Here is an interesting passage:

A hybrid model allows the enterprise to still keep their private information on premises, but at the same time provide employees with tools that support the new way of working — with “anytime, anywhere access.” So an enterprise might use Office 365 and SkyDrive Pro (now OneDrive for Business) to support collaboration and team projects, but still manage major systems through a private cloud.

I found referencing Microsoft and SharePoint as a good example to serve manufacturing companies – all of them are using SharePoint (to some degree) and almost all of them using SharePoint asked in the past about how to position SharePoint and PDM/PLM tools. Article is referencing pharmaceutical companies as an example of industry that can find difficult moving everything to public cloud. I’m sure, PLM vendors can find many other examples where regulation and policies will welcome hybrid cloud models.

However, as author stated Hybrid cloud can be costly and it won’t be "for everyone". To maintain IT infrastructure for both on-premise and cloud based environment won’t work for small and medium sized companies. So, hybrid cloud can be a bridge model for many of these companies towards full public cloud deployments.

What is my conclusion? For manufacturing companies it will be all about cost vs. privacy. Many small to medium sized companies can find themselves very comfortable with public cloud solutions. However, those are under regulation and security concerns, will follow hybrid, private cloud route. For PLM vendors it is all about growth and market. Look on your market segment, customers and demands. To support Hybrid cloud PLM require resources. However, as a vendor, you can certainly limit your market growth by not supporting your large customers with hybrid cloud solutions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

December 28, 2013

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Cloud PLM is a not a new word any more. Established vendors and newcomers in PLM world are developing strategies and implementations how to embrace PLM cloud. In my article few months ago, I’ve talking about multiple faces of the cloud – public, private, hybrid, collocation. Jim Brown, well-known PLM analyst and my long time blogging buddies is covering different visions of PLM vendors in his Tech-Clarity blog these days. Two first articles covered Autodesk and Dassault. It is interesting to see a difference. Autodesk vision described by Jim in the following passage:

Autodesk is embracing the Cloud like no other PLM vendor – Autodesk has made big gets on the cloud. They introduced CAD on the cloud (Fusion360), simulation on the cloud (Sim360), and a host of other new “360″ products to join PLM360 on the cloud. As one of my analyst friends tweeted the Autodesk keynotes mentioned “cloud, cloud, cloud, and cloud.”

Opposite to that, Dassault strategy is quite different and focuses on strategic choice of private cloud (even if technically claims no difference between public and private cloud). Here is an interesting passage from Jim’s post outline Dassault vision:

My final comment on DS strategy is about the cloud. Given the SOA architecture behind DS’ solutions one might expect DS to embrace the cloud wholeheartedly. DS execs were clear in pointing out that they support the cloud – but that they believe the on premise cloud is the viable option for companies today. It’s an interesting stance given that they appear to have the technical capabilities required but are choosing to opt away from the public cloud. This is an area to watch.

The question of private and public cloud strategies is important. Even cloud is a new trend, PLM vendors can gather some experience from challenges that non-PLM vendors are experiencing with implementing different cloud strategies. ComputerWorld article Why Microsoft SharePoint Faces a Challenging Future speaks about SharePoint dual strategy to maintain existing SharePoint 2013 on premise version as well as developing new SharePoint Online. The article is worth looking and contains lots of interesting examples. The following passage is my favorite:

Many enterprises use and like SharePoint. Microsoft likes it, too, because it’s one of the company’s fastest-growing product lines. But making enterprises support separate cloud and on-premises versions and telling SharePoint app developers not to work in C# and ASP.NET may make for a rocky relationship as time goes by.

Customization is an important aspect of every enterprise deployment. PLM is not an exclusion. Existing PLM deployments are full of customization made using existing development tools. Even more, on-premise deployments can provide some customization flexibilities that hardly can be achieved in public cloud implementations.

What is my conclusion? Dual cloud strategy sounds very compelling and we can hear about it a lot. However, to achieve real "cloud duality" can be tricky. Another level of complexity is to maintain transparent private/public customization and configuration using existing and new PLM technologies and tools. IT managers, PLM advisers and customers should take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM cost and future of public cloud

November 11, 2013

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PLM and cost. The topic is important and heavily debated among vendors, customers and industry pundits. Major established PLM vendors are keeping bar high, cloud vendors and open source innovators are trying to find alternatives to existing licensing mechanisms and upfront PLM payments. For most of the people, cloud and/or web is usually associated with free and inexpensive. In my view, this is a feeling developed by most of web giants.

However, for manufacturing companies and maybe even for the enterprise the situation might be different. I’ve been reading Joe Barkai writeup stating that according EMC research, large enterprises are reducing their investment into public cloud. Joe quoting EMC Forum 2013 event held in David Intercontinental hotel Tel Aviv. The source of the article in Hebrew is here. You can translate using Google for free and have decent quality translation. Here is the passage I specially liked:

"Over the years, the public cloud was a major trend, since it bore promise of downloadable dramatic costs, increasing accessibility and ease of use. Meanwhile, research firms show the public cloud is not suitable organizations enterprise," said Adrian McDonald, president of EMC EMEA… According to McDonald, many of whom he met CIOs report public cloud is more expensive than the alternatives, taking into account the needs of security, compliance and business continuity. Said that a recent study by EMC found surprising data regarding the use of large enterprises public cloud. "We expected that half workloads will be on public cloud and a half on the company. However, the data show that the accumulated experience of the decision makers in these organizations were reduced percentages using public cloud. According to the study, by 2016, only 12% of the work load will be on the public cloud. Additional 12% will be virtual cloud – private, and 76% will be managed inside the organization. "

It made me think about PLM and Cloud PLM specifically. Does it mean public cloud can make PLM more expensive and to instal servers and engage IT is actually more cost effective? Looking on PLM companies announcing their support for cloud deployment, it sounds like a contradiction.

Here is my take. I believe, PLM system that used to manage product development processes has low utilization. It is actually opposite to what you can potentially see with CAD, PDM and other engineering systems. EMC examples are probably focused on storages and other devices that have high utilization. In cloud and server business, utilization matters.

What is my conclusion? PLM cloud services is too broad definition to decide about what will be cost effective model to support it. Utilization matters. Therefore depends on the type of services, amount of data, availability, usage intensiveness and many other parameters, you can come to the point where to keep hosted service can be more efficient. In the past, PLM vendors didn’t differentiate between resources used to store data and managing entire process lifecycle. It made everything equally expensive. To enable downstream PLM usage, the license model and PLM cost should be different. Public cloud is here to help. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg


Will enterprise PLM embrace hybrid cloud?

February 15, 2013

Cloud is trending and we can see more examples of how cloud technologies applies in business. PLM vendors are not standing aside from the cloud. You may see different ways PLM companies are developing their cloud PLM strategies. It starts from public cloud offering coming from Autodesk PLM 360 and Arena and ends up with Siemens PLM Teamcenter leveraging IaaS, Windchill hosted by IBM and Dassault Enovia presenting their solutions as "online system".

What is important is to look on customer realities these days. Let’s face the facts. Almost every manufacturing company these days have a significant amount of enterprise software deployed in house. The larger company you go, you discover more enterprise system managed by company IT. While cloud can be promising opportunity, co-existence of public cloud systems and existing IT can become a problem and impact the speed of cloud deployments and developments. In such context, development of "hybrid clouds" can become an interesting option, in my view.

Earlier today, my attention was caught by Rackspace article – Rackspace Study: The Case for Hybrid cloud. Rackspace is a growing outfit specialized in hosting and cloud infrastructure. Read the article and make your opinion. The following passage explains in a nutshell the idea:

One big trend that has gained considerable momentum with these large organizations is the use of hybrid clouds, which is basically the usage of cloud from an IaaS provider alongside other platforms in order to deliver an application or workload to several users. Hybrid clouds bring a number of different advantages to enterprises, such as the ease of spinning resources up and down , and the cost efficiency of being able to pay for the capacity on an hourly or monthly basis instead of being tied down to a specific billing plan. What’s even better is that it allows for the greatest flexibility when the virtualization technology vendors started offering built in support for moving live virtual machines across a network, as it allows a straightforward means of transitioning applications and workloads between sites.

Take a look on a picture below. Rackspace is building a case for the multi-site hybrid cloud. Here is the explanation provided by Rackspace:

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Rackspace defines a multi-site hybrid cloud is one that involves attaching existing IT infrastructure to a public cloud provider via a private leased line or a public internet connection. The main advantage to a hybrid cloud is that it allows existing infrastructure, including legacy hardware and code that are otherwise expensive and disruptive to replace. However, this doesn’t come without a catch, as it greatly limits control over geography and may result in increased latency as distance between sites increase, not to mention includes additional time and expense meant for provisioning network connections and reliability of inter-site communication, when compared to pure cloud implementations.

I found this idea interesting. Every IT in a large organization is looking how to optimize cloud deployment without disrupting the existing IT servers rooms. Hybrid cloud can be a good solution for that. Another aspect is security. In my view, hybrid cloud can provide some advantages to IT and large companies to keep some their servers more protected.

What is my conclusion? IT is a blocker to cloud technologies in many companies these days. Even if IT understands the value of the cloud technologies, it provides too much disruption to existing IT infrastructure and future strategies. So, Rackspace is spot on. Hybrid cloud can be a potential way to mitigate a potential concerns of IT about public cloud. Note to companies looking for PLM solutions. While public cloud can provide a clear strategic advantage in terms of resource optimiaztion, Hybrid cloud can be an interesting option and intermediate steps towards exploration of cloud technologies for larger manufacaturing firms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Cloud: Dedicated, Private, Public

February 1, 2011

The conversation about cloud is trending these days. Earlier last week, duringSolidWorks World 2011, I had a chance to share my opinion about cloud application development with many people there. SolidWorks was “talking about cloud” a lot during the past year. Last year, I read a nice review of platform shifts and online security from SolidWorks’s co-founder Jon Hirschtick published on SolidWorks blog. Actually, new SolidWorks CEO, Bertrand Sicot, put some clarification behind SolidWorks cloud program during the last event. Despite the fact everybody talks “cloud”, I found a lot of confusion around the cloud topic especially with the notion of different “types of cloud” environment.

Cloud: Server + Network + Virtualization

The best short definition of the “cloud” I’ve heard over the past few weeks was the following one: cloud means “not here”. I found it may be a bit over simplification. I found very meaningful to talk about cloud in terms of servers, network and virtualization. I can see servers is something that remains the same regardless on the notion of company IT as well as the cloud. However, in the case of IT option, servers are located in the company IT data center. Cloud can move these servers out of your company IT data center room. Network is another element that actually bridge between our traditional understanding of IT and cloud. In the past, we operated with terms LAN and WAN. Today the Internet is included into the network scope. However, network remains the same. Another topic is Virtualization. This is not an absolutely new topic, but getting a new notion these days. The ability to make a virtual environment isn’t new and this is not invented by cloud. However, this ability is getting new meaning when multiple virtual environments are able to run on physical servers over the network. Depending on the server location we differentiate between dedicated, private and public clouds.

Dedicated Cloud

This is simple and, in my view, very similar to traditional corporate IT environments. You still have a physical instance of the server. However, the server will be located “not here”. This practically means the outsourcing of physical servers from corporate data centers.

Private Cloud

The next step in “not here” option. In addition to outsourcing servers, you can run multiple virtual environment on top of physical server boxes. You can also have a firewall option. So, this “private cloud” environment will be a bunch of virtual machines running on top of physical server boxes.

Public Cloud

This option is probably the most interesting. Cloud providers (i.e. AWS, Rackspace) can provide virtual servers running on top of “some servers” located “not here”. However, in this case, you won’t be able to control physical boxes. This option can provide a maximum of elastic cloud capabilities. However, it brings a compromise with regards to security options.

No Agreement About The Cloud?

I still cannot see an agreement between different players on the market of cloud computing. On the following video, you can see how Cloud is explained by salesforce.com – the most clean and straightforward definition, in my view.

However, life is not as easy as it presented on salesforce’s video. To prove that, you can join this fascinating video of Larry Allison talking about his perspective on cloud computing.

What is my conclusion? I think we are in the middle of cloud transformation. Still the definition, terminology and lots of other stuff can be modified in the next few years. I’m expecting some marketing buzzes to go away and some practical definitions to get in to clarify what means cloud for the enterprise, in general, and specifically for engineering and manufacturing software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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