How PLM vendors will develop next security technologies

September 22, 2014

future-security-tech

The world is a scare place today. Every day we hear about different security problems – very large retail network informed me that their payment system was breached; large organization informes that customer databases with account information leaked, proprietary photos of celebrities available for general public, credit card numbers compromised. You can continue this list…

If you are responsible for IT organization, you should be scary to death. Think about engineering and manufacturing organization. How can you insure the protection of sensitive information assets? The time when a potential solution was just to cut a network cable into engineering working room is probably in the past. Even if you do that, mobile devices, global environment and need for supply chain access will simply put your effort in a trash can. EBNonline published a very interesting infographic called – The iPhone 6 Saga. It presents Apple’s global supply chain. I have no specific information about how Apple support security in their engineering, manufacturing and supply chains systems. What is clear – security is not optional there.

Security is well known topic in PLM community. Manufacturing companies are afraid of IP leaks for their most important intellectual assets. The question about how to protect data is on the top of the list when you evaluate PLM system. Introducing of cloud technologies and cloud PLM systems just raised the sense of urgency towards protecting highly sensible engineering and manufacturing assets.

Security of information in PLM system is multi-dimensional problem.. These days vendors are very vocal about their commitment to insure information is secured. It is easy to find this information available from vendors’ website and published white papers. A very simple Google search for “PLM security” returned a bunch of documents from Aras, Autodesk PLM360, Dassault Systems,  Siemens PLM, Oracle Agile PLM and few others. Take a look on links and draw your opinion.

It made me think, security management is not a topic that can be covered by one vendor. In modern manufacturing world, you hardly can find a company that using engineering, data management and manufacturing software from a single software vendor. The situation won’t be different in a future. It means manufacturing companies will have to insure security of sensitive IP. My hunch, software vendors will have to talk to develop future security technologies and systems together.

My attention caught THEINQUIRER article Google, Dropbox and others launch Simply Secure to ensure open security. Simply Secure is an organization that aims to work on how to solve the problem of security in an open source community.

A collection of firms and internet thinkers have gathered under a Simply Secure banner and promised to make security and privacy tools that protect and serve. Google and Dropbox are players in the Simply Secure support group and are joined by the Open Technology Fund. Together they all hope to address web users’ concerns about their content and connections. “Internet software links us to our friends, allows us to transact across oceans, and forms a digital space for culture and society. Because these technologies provide forums for sensitive discourse and expression, we are all concerned about their security and privacy.

The world of product lifecycle management is very competitive. Vendors are in a constant search how to differentiate their solution. However, security technology is a thing that can benefit a community of customers to adopt technologies and to work together. Modern enterprise software is quickly adopting best technological practices and tools coming from open source and web world. Security best practice can be next place where adopting of some industry and open source standards can be beneficial.

What is my conclusion? Security is a big deal. By developing future security technologies and adopting some well known best practices, PLM vendors can raise the bar for how they can protect customers from security breaches. The world around us is highly connected these days. To solve security problems is not an optional thing. It impacts every company in modern global manufacturing world.

Best, Oleg


CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list

September 5, 2014

top-cloud-apps-cad-plm-500

The cloud is growing. Few years ago, some of us had a concern if cloud is fad and it will over fast. Since that time, we can see many new companies in cloud space as well as many companies turned their development efforts completely towards the cloud eco-system.

If you like research, ranks and comparison of vendors, you may find the following list of vendors interesting. Apps Run The Cloud web site published the list of Cloud Top 500 Applications Vendors. You can see list of companies and detailed information about top 50 vendors for free. More detailed information requires subscription.

I’ve been trying to see what companies from CAD/PLM space made it to the list. Here is the list of companies with rank (assigned by Apps Run The Cloud) and domain (CAD or PLM):

120 – Autodesk (CAD)

158 – Altair Engineering, Inc. (CAD)

291 – Dassault Systems (PLM)

377 – Arena Solutions (PLM)

407 – Siemens PLM software (PLM)

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here to stay. The question is not "why the cloud?", but "how and what cloud vendor to choose?". I’ve been blogged about it before – PDM/PLM: Why the cloud? Wrong question… The growth of cloud software is fascinating. The fact 3 top CAD providers are in the list confirms the commitment of companies to cloud strategies and development. I didn’t find few names from CAD/PLM domain that I expected to see. I hope we will see more analysis and comparison of cloud strategies and cloud platforms in CAD/PLM space.

Best, Oleg


PLM upgrades, release cycles and legacy software

August 20, 2014

legacy-software

Do you know what is legacy software? Earlier today, Marc Lind of Aras Corp. challenged me by his twitter status about companies complaining about legacy PLM systems and upgrading. Here is the original passage from twitter here and here.

"a lot of people complains about legacy PLM and a lot of companies that have legacy PLM are throwing in the towel and switching these days".

marc-lind-legacy-plm-tweet

The part of statement about "legacy software" is really interesting. Last week, I wasn’t able to update a game on my son’s iPad. After few minutes, I discovered that Apple is not supporting the original iPad hardware manufactured 4 years ago. Does it mean iOS software run on that iPad is a legacy? Good question. At the same time, what about properly functioning ERP software that company runs already for the last 10 years without any plans to upgrade? Is that a legacy software?

Wikipedia gives me the following definition of legacy system:

In computing a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program,"of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system."[1] A more recent definition says that "a legacy system is any corporate computer system that isn’t Internet-dependent."[2]… The first use of the term legacy to describe computer systems probably occurred in the 1970s. By the 1980s it was commonly used to refer to existing computer systems to distinguish them from the design and implementation of new systems. Legacy was often heard during a conversion process, for example, when moving data from the legacy system to a new database.

Software upgrades is an important topic in engineering and manufacturing. Very often, systems can be in use very long time because of product lifecycle and the need to maintain existing data. It happens a lot in defense, aero and some other "regulated" industries. Also, because of significant investment, the ROI from upgrade can be questionable, which leads companies to keep existing outdated systems in operation. I’ve been posted about problems of PLM customization and upgrades before – How to eliminate PLM customization problems and Cloud PLM and future of upgrades.

PLM vendors are aware about the issue of upgrades and difficulties of software migrations . For long time, industry recognized it as something unavoidable. However, in today’s dynamic business environment, the issue of software upgrades cannot be ignored. Customers demanding flexible and agile software that can be deployed and updated fast. At the same time, changes of business models towards services and subscriptions pushed the problem of upgrades back to vendors.

Earlier this year, my attention was caught by CIMdata publication – Aras Innovator: Redefining Customization & Upgrades. Aras enterprise open source model is predominantly subscription oriented. Which provides lots of incentives for Aras engineers to solve the issue of upgrades and new versions deployment. Here is the passage from the article confirming that:

For several years, the Aras Corporation (Aras) has included no-cost version-to-version upgrades in their enterprise subscriptions, independent of how the solution has been customized and implemented. This is a rather bold guarantee given the historic challenges the industry has experienced with upgrading highly customized PLM deployments. With more than 300 upgrades behind it, CIMdata felt it appropriate to find out how Aras’ guarantee was playing out, and discovered that there was much more to the story than just a contractual guarantee. Fundamentally, Aras Innovator is engineered to be highly configurable—even customizable—without resulting in expensive and complex version-to-version upgrades and re-implementations.

One of PLM software leaders, Siemens PLM is also thinking about What is the best release cycle. The article speaks about SolidEdge release cycle.

A few years ago we moved from an irregular release cycle for Solid Edge, maybe 9 months in one cycle to 15 months in the next, to a regular cycle of annual releases (of course there are also maintenance packs delivered in the interim). I believe our customers much prefer this, they can plan ahead knowing that there will be a significant Solid Edge release available to them in August each year.

At the same time, the article confirms that CAD/PLM vendors are looking how to solve the problem of upgrades. As I mentioned earlier, cloud software model is one of the most promising technical ways to solve the issue of upgrades. It is true, but can be tricky in case both desktop and cloud software are involved. Here is the passage from the same Siemens PLM blog:

Working in the PLM area we try really hard to provide our customers with a good upgrade experience. PLM software is itself dependent on both the operating system and database software, and it has to work with specific releases of CAD software (sometimes with more than one CAD solution for our multi-CAD customers) and with office software as well! Moving PLM software to the cloud could potentially take some of the upgrade issues away from the end user, but PLM software does not work in isolation from your data files, or your other software and systems so I believe there is much work still to be done before the cloud really impacts the upgrade situation for real-world customers.

What is my conclusion? From customer perspective, the best option is to make release cycle completely transparent. In my view, this is really high bar for PLM vendors. Customer data migration, customization and sometimes absence of backward compatibility make release transparency questionable. However, since industry moves towards cloud software and service business model the demand for agile release management and absence of upgrades will be growing. So, my hunch, in the future we will not see "legacy software" anymore. New type of enterprise software will manage upgrades and migrations without customers paying attention. Sound like a dream? I don’t think so. For most of web and consumer software it is a reality already today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Here is why CAD in the cloud is more than mainframe terminal

August 1, 2014

CAD-IBM-mainframe-term

Cloud is one of the topics that I’m following on my blog for a long time. I can see lots of changes that happened in CAD / PLM world for the last few years with everything that related to cloud. I’m sure you remember very turbulent announcement about SolidWorks future in the cloud made during SWW 2010. Since then, I was looking how CAD/PLM vendors were taking different cloud approaches based on their customer base, long term vision and strategy. Here are some of my previous posts speaking about vendors and different cloud strategies – Dassault is going to support all PLM cloud options by 2015; PLM cloud switch and PTC final click; Siemens PLM analyst event PLM public cloud strategies; Cloud and IaaS options; PLM/PDM Why Cloud? Wrong question…

I read Siemens PLM blog post – Is it time to revisit CAD in the cloud? by Matt Lombard. The article raised many question and concerns in my head. So, I decided to share them with you to compare our notes about cloud strategies. My attention was caught by the following two statements: 1/ Cloud has nothing to do with CAD. It is IT; 2/ Cloud in the cloud will send us back to manufacturing/terminal arrangement. Here is the passage from the post about that:

The cloud has nothing to do with CAD, really. The cloud is all about how you deliver the software, and/or about how you store the data. It’s IT. There was a time when all CAD software was delivered across a network to individual terminals, and the data was stored centrally. People about my age who remember this sort of thing generally refer to that as the “bad old days”. Working on terminals that had to log in to a mainframe was inconvenient. If the mainframe was down, no one could do anything.

The personal computer (PC) revolution was such a big hit because it gave you more flexibility. Everyone had their own computer. It took us out of the collective, and made us individuals again. In the mid 90s, along with Windows NT, this meant that we could start using our technical engineering applications on PCs, which were far less expensive and restrictive when compared to mainframe setups.

“CAD in The Cloud” promises to send us back to the mainframe/terminal arrangement. Whether it’s a local cloud, on your company’s LAN or a public cloud on Amazon or IBM, or a private cloud you access over the internet, it’s the same idea as the mainframe/terminal. But is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

These two statements made me think again about completely different approach companies can take in terms of cloud adoption. You can consider cloud as "yet another server" located elsewhere and managed by somebody else (not by the IT of your company). From a very narrow point of view, it is true. However, think for the moment about potential elastic computing power. You might rethink your position. The ability to bring brute computing force will allow you to speed up design and analysis. You can compare variants, visualize your design and re-use early projects in a completely different way. It can change design and decision process completely.

Another aspect is related to collaboration and data access. By moving your PDM server into cloud can gain some benefits. It mostly around IT cost and global access. However, you can achieve much more by allowing people to communicate across departments and extended value chain. It opens many opportunities in communication, business optimization and analytics services.

Another interesting point made by Matt is related to desktop tools. Matt comes with the explanation about relationships between SolidEdge and cloud. Here is the passage from the blog:

For all of these reasons, I like the approach that Siemens PLM has when it comes to the cloud. Solid Edge does not appear to have any cloud aspirations at this time, but there are versions of enterprise software that will allow for local cloud set up. Giving the customer the choice and the control without coercing them is the right thing to do.

I like the way Matt put the connection between SolidEdge as a desktop software and so called "enterprise software that will allow for local cloud set up". I reminded me TechCrunch article – The Return Of The Desktop Productivity App. What I like is the role desktop applications play in the triad of desktop-web-mobile. All together, these applications become part of connected cloud platform. Think about Evernote for a moment. You can use desktop version of Evernote and transparently switch to mobile and web version depends on the situation and need. Your notes remain captured and available to view, edit and collaborate. This is a big deal. This is how we will use software tomorrow. Desktop CAD applications will be seamlessly connected to cloud platforms providing backbone for communication, collaboration and storage.

What is my conclusion? Think about web and cloud as a new platform. It will bring a completely new paradigm of design and engineering. As a first step you can think about it as an old "mainframe/terminal" or "yet another server located elsewhere". However, cloud trajectory will take us much further. It will bring new connected platforms that will change the way we communicate and collaborate. Elastic computing platforms will help us to find optimal design solution and intelligently use customer data for analysis. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

The photo courtesy of computerhistory.org


Why Siemens PLM can develop PaaS option

July 16, 2014

cloud-paas

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:

chad-jackson-siemens-plm-tweetstorm

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


Google Maps, Knowledge Graph and high-end PLM user experience

May 28, 2014

To present product information visually is not a simple tasks. It combines multiple domains of information – 3D model, design specification, material characteristics, simulation, etc. This is one of the most critical places to innovate for major CAD and PLM companies.

Few years ago I was writing about PLM visual reporting in CAD and PLM. I specifically mentioned two applications – Siemens HD-3D/PLM and Dassault 3D Live. I’m not sure if Siemens and Dassault marketing are still keeping the same names, but I can see both vendors are continuously developing the idea of information representation in HD-PLM and 3DEXPERIENCE. Recent announcement about Dassault 3DEXPERIENCE platform to stop using files and "link to data" is another confirmation about future merge of 3D CAD and other related data in a single environment using the same screen real estate.

Dassault Systems V6/3D Experience

dassault-vehicle-design-fig4

Siemens PLM (HD-PLM)

HD-PLM-siemens

My attention was caught by the information about Google Knowledge Graph (GKG) support by Google Maps. If you follow my blog, you probably had a chance to read about Google Knowledge Graph – Why PLM need to learn about Google Knowledge Graph?; PLM, Google Knowledge Graph and Future Decision Support and How PLM can join semantic enterprise graph?

On few screenshots below, you can see how GKG information about different objects can be accessed from Google Maps.

Object meta data on the map

white-house-gkg

boston-opera-gkg

Actionable data on the map (book hotel room & rate)

hyatt-reg-sf-gkg

Additional contextual information about the object on the map

embarkadero-station-sf-gkg

I found this information extremely interesting. Here is the thing. In my view, Google Map is one of the best applications on the web combining graphical map data with other information. The data is interconnected. Google Knowledge Graph information connected with Map information is presenting a very interesting experience when Map plays a role of contextual navigation tool to other data. At the same time, GKG info panels can provide an access to other information.

What is my conclusion? It is hard to visualize complex contextual information. I found lots of similarities between how Map and GKG data can be mixed together and the way 2D/3D information can be mixed with other product information (metadata, simulation, etc.) To use proven visualization paradigm can help to get fast user adoption. It will be interesting to see how high-end PLM user experience will evolve within time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Top PLM Vendors. Let’s face it – every vendor has its strength…

May 20, 2014

PLM-vendors-SWAT

One size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true in enterprise software. It also applies to engineering organization and manufacturing companies. Every organization is trying to come with a strategy how to organize engineering, product development, manufacturing, maintenance and other related functions. So, the same applies to PLM vendors. It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison of PLM vendors and products. Details are important and without knowing small parts, it is hard to recommend as well as publish something that can be re-used in a general way. However, what to do if you need to choose or at least make some comparison of PLM vendors and their products? I’m sure you are familiar with SWOT analysis. It made me think about PLM vendors SWOT…

My first reaction was – no… this is probably mission impossible. In the past Gartner made Magic Quadrants. It provided a reliable source of information to compare software products and vendors. The last PLM Magic Quadrant (PLM MQ) I remember was done in 2007. I think Gartner stopped to produce them. I reproduced last PLM MQ in my blog – PLM Perfect Storm 2012. I hope you will agree with me – it is very hard to made any decision based on that chart.

PLM analyst Jim Brown from Tech Clarity produced a very interesting set of publications recently – Strategic visions of major PLM players. In addition to that, Jim also published separate articles describing PLM vision for Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC and Siemens PLM. It is a very good read – I certainly recommend you to spend few days analyzing what is strategic mind of key PLM vendors.

Honestly, I cannot see how possible to create a generic PLM vendors SWOT. Kill me if you want. A specific comparison can be done for one customer case or industry. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up and wanted to finish this post. It made me think about what is single top strength of every PLM vendor. Well, this is probably doable… Because, each of these top 4 vendors is doing many different things, I need to scope what I mean by PLM here. The agreement about “what is PLM?” is another interesting discussion topic. I won’t go there today. In current post, I limit PLM to what called cPDM (according to segmentation proposed by another analytic company – CIMdata).

So, too many disclaimers… This is a time to show things off. Here is the list of top 4 PLM vendors with single, most significant strength. I listed vendors alphabetically, to prevent any speculation about order or priorities.

1- Autodesk PLM

Autodesk is a new player in PLM market. Back in 2012, Autodesk introduced cloud PLM offering – PLM360. A combination of this story together with Autodesk broad reach in all industries and markets is clear advantage. So, here is Autodesk PLM strength: Autodesk PLM360 cloud story, channel and partnership opportunity.

2- Dassault Systems

The history of Dassault PLM is going back to first large PLM implementations Dassault made in aerospace and defense industry. In my view, Dassault focus was to create an ultimate integration story between CATIA products and related parts of data management and collaboration of ENOVIA. Thus, I can see CATIA-ENOVIA vertical integration as the major Dassault Systems’ PLM strength.

3- PTC

Originally started from Pro-E (now Creo) product line, PTC developed and acquired several PDM/PLM products. These days, PTC PLM offering relies on Windchill platform. Windchill is a very mature product that keeps the original pure web architecture. Windchill scalable product and architecture is clearly strongest part of PLM from PTC.

4- Siemens PLM

Siemens PLM has probably the largest PLM (cPDM) marketshare covered by multiple TeamCenter products developed in the past. These days, TeamCenter is Siemens PLM flagship platform absorbing all existing and new developed PLM products and customers. Therefore, I consider TeamCenter product line maturity and install base as the biggest strength of Siemens PLM.

What is my conclusion? What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? PLM products are multifunctional. PLM industry is complex. I wanted to mention “single the most significant strength” that applies to both – company and product. Every specific case can bring additional aspects that can highlight variety of characteristics and product parameters. If you are selecting PLM now, I can recommend to read my old post – How to choose PLM? , which is a bit outdated (from 2010) and check another one – 7 rules for selecting PLM in 2014. Again, as usual, nothing scientific. These are only my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Update (22-May-2014)

As I expected, this post raised lots of comments. I appreciate all my readers that came back with comments and questions for the last 2 days since I published this post. The largest amount of comments addressed the absence of two products/vendors from the list – Oracle/Agile and SAP PLM.

5- Oracle / Agile PLM 

Historically, Oracle acquired Agile PLM, which was one of the biggest neutral (not involved into CAD-related business) PLM vendors. For the moment, the core strength of Agile PLM is Oracle market share and family of product as well as out of the box functionality related to BOM management.

6- SAP / PLM

The core strength of SAP PLM is the fact it comes from SAP. The usage of SAP in a company as a platform is long term strategic decision. As soon as company decides for SAP, the strength of PLM addition from SAP will allow to cover all aspects of product development processes that not involving design and engineering.

What is my conclusion (22-May-2014)? To create good comparison is an interesting work. Few months ago, I’ve been posted about Crowdsourcing and PLM consultants’ future. For the moment, I feel like this post is making real field test. Again, appreciate all comments that help to make this article better.

Another minor update for blog title. Number “4” is not relevant, so let’s get rid of it.

End of Update (22-May-2014)

—————

Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee now. In case you want to see it, here is my LinkedIn profile. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions – expressed or implied – of my employer (present and past).


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