A piece of cloud in data center- SaaS PLM path to large manufacturers?

November 25, 2015


All PLM vendors can delivery some sort of cloud solutions today. You can see my recent update to PLM cloud service comparison here. You can see solutions are simply divided between SaaS services and Hosted products.

Hosted solution are dominant since majority of vendors are simply upgrading and adjusting existing platforms to run in the virtual environment like AWS EC2, Microsoft Azure or using private hosting service providers. It seems to me a favorable competitive position for established PLM platforms. Majority of existing PLM customers are large companies and my hunch that IT departments are feeling comfortable with “hosting” message. It is cloud buzzword compliant and provide some sense of safety at the same time.

PLM SaaS vendors are talking about “true cloud”, but essentially it comes down to supported functionality and cost. CAD integration story is creating an additional mess for “true cloud” PLM SaaS companies. The cloud PDM story is not complete for PLM SaaS to compete with integration provided by hosted platforms.

So, what can change a status in this competitive standing between PLM SaaS and hosted PLM? Is there something that can bridge two options? My attention was caught by Oracle announcement – Oracle Private cloud machine for PaaS and IaaS.

Enterprises looking to combine the agility of the public cloud and the control of their data centers finally have a solution—Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS. The best of both worlds is coming soon to a data center near you.

To address this dilemma, Oracle CTO and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS at OpenWorld 2015. This new platform allows enterprises to combine the cloud benefits of agility, simplicity, and low operational cost with the control and security of running applications within their own data centers. Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS will be an on-premises Oracle Cloud Platform running the exact same software and hardware as Oracle Cloud and will offer 100 percent compatibility with Oracle Cloud. Using a platform deployed at the customer’s data center, Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS and IaaS will deliver the identical PaaS and IaaS software used on the Oracle Cloud, enabling customers to address their specific business or regulatory requirements, data control, and data location requirements.

The following video shows Oracle’s Larry Ellison speaking on the stage of OpenWorld 2015 conference.

It made me think that OPCM for PaaS and IaaS (such a crazy name) can be an option as a path PLM vendors to combine both “hosting” and SaaS world. It is a pure speculation, but imagine SaaS vendors taking their “only SaaS” available environment deployed to private cloud environment. It can open a new competitive niche for them. At the same time, traditional PLM solutions (Enovia, Teamcenter, Windchill and Aras) can think about future SaaSification of their solutions and taking advantage of public cloud. The last is questionable – none of these solutions are multi-tenant for my best knowledge.

What is my conclusion? Oracle is trying to merge two words – SaaS and Hosted environment by providing infrastructure to deliver identical solutions using both public and private cloud. It is probably a good news for SaaS vendors, since it can provide a potential path to deliver existing PLM SaaS solutions to large manufacturing companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

“True SaaS” PLM – the devil is in details

June 23, 2015


My earlier attempt to compare PLM vendors and cloud services raised many comments online and offline. I want to thank everybody who commented and shared your insight – it helps me to build a next version of comparison table. Also, I can see an importance of open discussion for the future of cloud PLM industry.

One of the most debate topic is the definition of SaaS. The questions and opinions are keep coming. Can we qualify a particular solution as SaaS? What are characteristic of SaaS product from technological and business perspective? And finally… can we define what is “true SaaS”? I want to step back and talk about SaaS first. Below is the definition by Wikipedia. You can learn more here – Software as a Service.

Software as a service (SaaS; pronounced /sæs/ or /sɑːs/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

This definition leaves a lot of flexibility and, of course, doesn’t reflect multiple aspects of product and technology – the core source of disagreement about what is “true SaaS”. I want to focus on some of them – product portfolio, subscription business model, IaaS and hosting, product versions and releases, upgrades and thin/think client access.

1- Product portfolio. This is a question about cloud and on-prem portfolios. Do you believe company can be providing both traditional PLM software and cloud (SaaS) software. For large companies it is mostly part of their strategy. It is a tricky balancing act of selling existing products and moving into the future. For smaller companies, it is a question about their focus.

2- Subscription business model. Most of subscription-based products are tagged with a price per user / per month. Is it a model you want to follow? Do you expect paying monthly? Is it just a way to advertise the price? What is the additional cost associated with product deployment, operation, support and services.

3- IaaS and Hosting. There are multiple sources of infrastructure for cloud software these days. You can run it using services like AWS and Microsoft Azure. Alternatively, you can host it using variety of hosting providers. If your business is large enough, the question about company datacenter can come .

4- Product versions and release. An important question about availability of multiple versions and configuration of your products. The option to keep a single version of truth for your cloud product has lot of advantages. But at the same time, it can raise a concern from IT folks thinking about how to make cloud product compatible with other software running by a company.

5- Upgrades. The topic of software upgrades is painful. Who is responsible to upgrade your environment when product is moving to the next release? Cloud software vendors are traditionally responsible for infrastructure and upgrades. But some specific customizations and configurations can complicate things.

6- Thin vs. Thick clients. Do you think “cloud” is equal “browser”? For some people, the answer is clear yes. Do you think browser access is an ultimate characteristic of “true SaaS” software? You can decide what is important for you, but consider the implication of managing software installed on mobile devices, laptops and desktop computers.

What is my conclusion? The devil is in details and SaaS definition brings many questions. I’m working on a next version of PLM cloud services comparison between vendors. It is a competitive space and vendors will have to work to explain their products and technology. To say “cloud” is not enough. SaaS has no simple definition. To understand multiple characteristics of SaaS is important to take a right decision about what is a right solution for you. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PS. If you have specific questions, please reach me out via email – oleg [@] beyondplm [.] com

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cloud PLM and SaaS sales mindset

May 22, 2015


I want to talk about PLM sales today. If you want to succeed in sales, a mindset is a right starting point. But, enterprise sales needs a special mindset. PLM sales is very special case. These days SaaS / cloud software is setting new rules for enterprise software. How does it influence and change PLM sales? What advantages cloud PLM can get compared to a traditional PLM products and sales model?

Few days ago, I posted about how to stop blaming engineers for PLM sales problems? In my view, engineers are on average bad sales people. Therefore, to put engineers in the spot of selling PLM and blame them for wrong articulation of PLM value is a bad idea. There are thousands of books and article on the topic of how to sell to enterprise organizations. It is a good reading for coming Memorial Day long weekend. Today, I want to talk about cloud PLM sales – a new category that has a chance to change the way we sell PLM.

I can see two aspects of cloud PLM sales. First is related to a new reality of our world – internet, online connectivity, social networks, virality. How does it help to sell PLM? It certainly helps to create a new level of awareness about what your product does. If you didn’t setup your product twitter account, blog and other social channel, do it now! But, it doesn’t change a fundamentals. Despite all social channels, selling to enterprise is still very much old-schoolers game. In my view, there is no PLM vendors that discovered a new way to sell PLM until now. You can read more in my earlier post – PLM, Viral Sales and Enterprise Old Schoolers.

Second aspect is related to the fact how PLM companies are managing enterprise sales process and new business models. My attention caught the A16Z blog post – If SaaS products sell themselves, why do we need sales? The article gives you an excellent perspective on the details of sales process. I like the comparison of enterprise sales to the process of getting a bill passed in Congress. Certainly true. Although PLM is not a new category in the market, I would consider PLM sales challenge to create a unique value for every customer as something real PLM vendors are facing every day. PLM sales are competing with many other activities in manufacturing companies and it is literally hard to take it through the all three steps of decision process – why to buy PLM, why to buy PLM from a specific vendor and why to buy PLM now.

SaaS sales are facing the same level of sales difficulties. At the same time I’ve been thinking how cloud PLM can get some advantages over a traditional PLM product sales. And the point of "customer facing activity" form A16Z blog is clearly resonating here. This is a passage to pay attention in my view:

SaaS is a winner-take-all market involving a “land-and-expand” sales strategy. However, landing doesn’t necessarily mean expanding and winning. Staffing your startup with customer-facing resources — professional services, customer support, etc. — at this stage is an investment that will pay off not only in expanding your footprint inside that account, but in building the most powerful sales tool there is: a good reference. And while new clients are great, the best place to sell something is where you’ve already sold something.

You may ask me how is that related? Here is the thing… Landing should be an easy process in SaaS PLM compared to a traditional PLM sales process. And this is where cloud PLM can provide a clear differentiation. A traditional PLM approach is to sell on a premise of changing the way customer is doing business and manage product development processes. When it is done, you can setup PLM system and prove it. But it is a very lengthy process. Opposite to that, you can think about cloud PLM first sale as a "land" process. Do it for the most painful problem customer has. This is why PLM sales should be more technical. Land it to the customer for a cost of zero dollars. After all, you can leverage elasticity of the cloud as a biggest advantage. After you done, work on expand option. New subscription business models will help you to provide a new way for customer – pay per use.

What is my conclusion? Moving to the cloud, doesn’t mean PLM can sell itself. After earlier attempts, it looks like wrong sales strategy. At the same time, landing small feature to solve the most painful problem for a customer can be a right step to start. The challenge is to have enough customer facing resources that can help to discover it and land an initial solution with very low cost and super fast ROI. In my view, it is a completely different mindset from what we had before in PLM and enterprise. It is a time for PLM vendors to retool sales teams with new skills. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

PLM PaaS may not happen after all

April 13, 2015


Platform is such a lovely word. Software vendors like platforms because it gives them an additional capability to partner with a community of developers. In cloud era, platform is often associated with PaaS (platform as a service). For the last few years, PaaS was mentioned as a next step in developing of cloud platforms. PaaS is often seen as a layer (together with SaaS and IaaS) in many marketing cloud slides presented by software vendors. CAD and PLM vendors are using it too.

I put some of my thoughts about PLM and PaaS earlier – Cloud PLM and PaaS dilemma. It is a difficult task to create PLM platform that can be used by other developers. In my view, none of existing cloud PLM products regardless how they call themselves cannot be qualified as PaaS. Will cloud PLM vendors develop PaaS options is a question I asked last year. I don’t think we got any good answer so far.

The usage of word platform and PaaS is often controversial as well as a definition of a platform. Meantime, the bigger world of PaaS ruled by large platform vendors (Amazon, Google and others) are going to rethink PaaS too. TechCrunch article Whatever Happened To PaaS? speaks about some interesting transformations happening with PaaS development by large cloud vendors. Companies are not rushing to provide their strong commitments to PaaS platforms. Here is the passage explaining three reasons why customers are not running towards PaaS and keep IaaS option as preferable.

App Engine’s prices drop regularly, but they’re voluminous and confusing, and a single instance — a pretty puny virtual machine — costs more than a dollar day, not counting storage or bandwidth. Same for Heroku. You get more bang-per-buck by simply buying and running your own servers. You also get enormously larger headaches, and significantly slower development time; but that tradeoff isn’t worth it for many

Then there’s lock-in. Once you build your app atop App Engine’s custom APIs, you’re committed; there’s no easy way to back away and go to another provider. The lock-in is less for other PaaS providers, but it’s still there. There is no universal PaaS equivalent of de facto IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) standards such as OpenStack or Docker.

The third, least valid, and arguably most powerful reason is culture. Companies don’t want to give up perceived control over their systems–even if that control is never worth its associated complexity–and sysadmins, understandably, don’t want to evolve themselves out of a job.

In my view, it explains well why PLM PaaS idea may be dead on arrival. The only reason for partners and developers to use platform is cost and speed. If I can spin a new server in minutes and develop my own cloud application, why I should bother with using of PLM PaaS. The potential reason could be data access and interoperability. But it will come down fast to customer lock-in. Openness and interoperability is a big issue in engineering world. Engineers and manufacturing companies don’t like to be locked on a specific software. Even PLM PaaS will provide an attractive set of functionality, I hardly can see how developers of vertical applications and solutions will lock themselves on a specific PaaS and won’t keep an option to provide this solution for other platform and vendors.

What is my conclusion? For the moment, PaaS looks more like a marketing buzzworld used by PLM and CAD vendors. I think vendors will take time to understand what means to deliver cloud platform that will be robust enough not to break under the complexity of multiple vendor dependencies, long development and usage lifecycle and technological innovation. So, PLM PaaS is not here yet and may not happen after all. This is a not for PLM architects to watch technological trends of large vendors and think how to develop future PLM platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why all PLM software will be SaaS soon?

November 26, 2014


I’ve be sharing many of my thoughts about how different cloud technologies can be used to implement PLM. Nevertheless, once in a while, I’m also getting comments and questions about acceptance of cloud PLM for large companies. Usually, it comes in the intersection of security and readiness of large manufacturing companies for cloud (SaaS) software.

TechMVP article – The benefits of SaaS transformation: both the obvious and non-obvious shows some very interesting perspective on that topic. Let me go straight to security question:

The second common objection stems from the thought process amongst large enterprise CIOs regarding whether to allow certain applications to live outside of the enterprise’s firewall. IT managers and executives – sometimes speaking about legitimate security concerns and sometimes speaking to protect their jobs – stand in the way of core applications moving to the cloud via a SaaS vendor. At the same time, these same decision makers have adopted Salesforce.com for CRM, and allow unencrypted email between employees and non-employees, thus calling into question the sincerity of their argument against other SaaS applications. The successful adoption of CRM in the cloud has opened the floodgates for virtually all other types of applications to move to the cloud even over the objections of certain IT managers.

Towards this end, we have seen in recent years the advent of ERP (FinancialForce, Workday), Marketing Automation (Eloqua, Marketo), and Software Development or ALM (GIT and Rally Software) in the cloud. These types of applications manage information that is often considered the “crown jewels” of corporate data, and thus are the types of applications that some thought would never take root in the cloud.

I can observe a significant growth of SaaS software adoption by manufacturing outside of pure engineering domain. You can see software in different categories – ERP, CRM, marketing, project management, software lifecycle management and many others. Imagine manufacturing product with software code managed using GIT? What will be the point to reject PLM system managing engineering bill of materials in the cloud?

Another interesting perspective is related to creation of new software companies. The graph below demonstrate a complete dominance of news business starting SaaS companies.


One more data point is coming closer to PLM business and related to implementation of ERP systems. Panorama consulting solutions published an interesting 2014 ERP report, which speaks about type of ERP systems implemented in 2013. As you can see on-premise and hosted system is accounting together for 96% of all systems.


What is my conclusion? I wonder what percentage of new PLM systems implemented in 2014 will be SaaS. The number is probably not very high. However, traditionally, it takes long time to decide about PLM system. My hunch, that broad adoption of SaaS software in other domains will push manufacturing companies to evaluate more PLM systems and make their decision faster than before. SaaS lower risks and upfront cost, which can be an additional factor for manufacturing companies to taste cloud PLM sooner than later. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Robert Hensley via photopin cc

PLM vertical PaaS strategies

July 25, 2014


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


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:


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


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