PLM and Microsoft Azure Cloud In A Box

by Oleg on October 22, 2014 · 0 comments

ms-azure-cloud

How do you move to the cloud? This is one of topics I’m discussing on my blog for the last year. The last time, I took a swing towards public cloud. Navigate to my PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud article for more information. However, not everybody will move to public cloud. At least not very soon.

For those who is looking for alternatives, especially within private cloud zone, the last update from Microsoft can be a very good news. Navigate to the Business Insider blog – Microsoft’s Satya Nadella Just Fired A Shot At HP And IBM. Microsoft turns to Dell to create a new computer server. Here is the passage which provides more info:

The new computer is called the “Microsoft Cloud Platform System” and it will be a mini-version of Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, that enterprises can install in their own data centers. By using this server, enterprises can easily move applications from their own private data center to Microsoft’s cloud and back again. (In geek speak, this is called “hybrid computing”.)

Some more details came from CMSWire blog earlier today – Take a Seat Google, Amazon: Microsoft’s Cloud Wins the Day. So what is that Microsoft Azure Cloud in A Box. Here is the definition of a “Box”:

...new Azure-like appliance that Enterprises can deploy in their own data centers. It has been designed specifically to handle big data workloads (32 cores, 450 gigabytes of RAM and 6.5 terabytes of local solid-state drive storage). Officially named the Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS), powered by Dell it is, in essence, an “Azure consistent cloud in a box” with pre-integrated hardware from Dell and software from Microsoft.

I captured the following architecture shot from WinITPro article:

plm-azure-in-a-box

It made me think about what is the potential impact and opportunity for PLM vendors. For most of them, alignment with Microsoft can be very beneficial. In the case Microsoft will do hard work and promote their Cloud Platform System to CIOs of large enterprise companies, PLM can be the icing on the cake. So, on the surface it all looks good. Especially, for PLM vendors especially fully aligned Microsoft software stack. I guess Microsoft partnership programs can provide some additional benefits too.

The issue I’d like to question is related to data layer. Most of large PLM deployments today are running on top of Oracle database. Oracle has their own cloud plans – Oracle cloud PaaS will provide a magic button for PLM. The availability of Oracle DB as part of Azure Cloud Platform can be questionable and become an issue to move PLM systems to Azure.

What is my conclusion? The devil is in the details. This is the best way to describe the status of cloud PLM software architecture today. PLM vendors are developing their own cloud strategies. Manufacturing companies are looking for the easiest path to the cloud. We will see some interesting moves from both sides. A good time for PLM architects and tech advisers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM Files Detox

by Oleg on October 21, 2014 · 0 comments

zero-files-no-CAD-files

The digital life around us is changing. It was a time when everything we did was running around desktop computer. You do your job, Save As… and, yes(!) put it in a file that can give you control over the result of your job. That’s the reason why engineers are in love with CAD files and Excel spreadsheets - it gives them full control of what they do. Excels are getting messy within time, but we can start a new file or open a new Excel spreadsheet.

Rob Cohee of Autodesk reminded me how much engineers are in love with files in his LinkedIn article – My Name is Rob, and I’m Addicted to Files. I captured few passages from Rob’s article before. He brilliantly explains the full engineering enjoyment of control over design and related information.

It started out small with a .DWG here, a .DOC, there with a sprinkle of .XLS files in between.

I had the freedom to create all this data, and the power is nothing short of addicting. Critical design requirements, tolerance, specification, and performance requirements, assembly instructions, a digital folder of file after file containing all of this critical information. I was the Michelangelo of AutoCAD R13 C4, the DWG was my canvas, safety was my muse.

The drawing file became everything. It was my design, requirements document, revision control, my parts list, my BOM, my supplier and procurement instructions, my cut list, my everything. All that data, all in one place locked away in my CAD file that only I had access to make modifications. The control was dizzying, euphoric at times. Any change to the drawing file had to go through me and me alone.

Rob’s article reminded me some of my old posts – The future of CAD without files. I still like very much a diagram I placed there from O’Reilly Radar article – Why files need to die. Here is my conclusion back into 2011.

The fundamentals of CAD and design systems are files. We use them to store assemblies, parts, drawings. In addition to that, we use them as a reference in many places. Do think “file” paradigm will live with CAD and other design systems forever? The movement of CAD vendors seems to me the obvious application of modern web principles to the world of design and engineering. The initial signals are here. CATIA V6 pushed the limits and eliminated files by connecting CATIA system directly to Enovia back-end. Autodesk cloud experiments with systems like AutoCAD WS made existence of files on the disc obsolete. PTC introduced Creo Apps. It will be interesting to see if PTC will come with the future idea of eliminating files. I think the computing and information paradigms are shifting from file-oriented to data (and web) oriented. The initial signs are here. The speed of this movement is questionable. Manufacturing is slow changing environment and engineers are very reluctant to changes.

PDM (Product Data Management) was a solution to end CAD file mess. PDM systems came to hunt for CAD and other files. The intent was to bring files into order, manage revisions, share data and… after some time, to eliminate files. We can see it started to happen now in some high-end systems such as CATIA V6. So, why PDM failed to detox engineers from files? Here is the thing… PDM was invented to help engineers to manage and control data. It sounds like engineers should like PDM, since it helps them to control files. But it didn’t go according to the plan. PDM added “frictions” into engineering freedom to create data in the way engineers want. Name control, check-in/out, approvals, etc. As a result of that, PDM failed to become a friend and turned to be engineers’ nightmare. Engineers don’t like PDM and in many situations engineers were forced to use PDM.

Working environment is changing fast. We are getting disconnected from files in our digital life. Our everyday workflows are getting distributed, mobile, disconnected from desktops and… files. We want to get access to data and not to files. To make this process successful, we need to think how to remove frictions. When you go to engineering school, you learn about importance of frictions. But software is different. Especially these days. Frictions can slow down the process of software adoption.

What is my conclusion? Engineering and manufacturing is slow changing environment. Engineers are conservative and design minded. Therefore, many PLM tools failed to become a favorite engineering data management and collaboration tool. Large teams accepted PDM tools because they had no choice. I believe, the future won’t belong to files. We are going to see more data-driven environment around us. To establish such environment is one of the main challenges for PLM companies today. To make it happen, PLM vendors must think how to remove frictions between users and PLM tools. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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How to rethink PLM workflows?

by Oleg on October 20, 2014 · 2 comments

plm-mobile-workflow

Workflows and processes. This is an important part of any company. Like blood goes through your body, workflows are going through a company and beyond. Couple of months before, I posted by ultimate PLM workflow dream. It came as a part of my thinking about “un-bundling services“. My idea was to publish list of features workflow (process management) that can be used as an independent service.

Many businesses were created with the vision to improve processes and to support business workflow. However, email is still one of the key elements of every workflow and business process management system implementation.  How to move from emails and messages to collaboration - in my view, this is one of the most critical elements that can help to streamline PLM workflows. Because of ubiquity, email remains one of the most widely used engines behind companies’ workflow. One of the ideas I discussed earlier was to connect emails and workflow – how to turn email into actionable workflows.

Over the weekend, I was skimming through the article – 10 Trends Transforming Enterprise IT by TechCrunch. The trend that caught my attention was #6 – Reimagining enterprise workflows. Read the following passage:

Widespread adoption of mobile devices has led to more efficient enterprise workflows. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff recently said he runs his whole business from his phone. This gets easier every day. Whether it is quickly turning around business documents via the e-signature application DocuSign or fine-tuning scheduling and route optimization for people in the field via ServiceMax, mobile applications are reinventing and automating processes across the enterprise, enabling work to get done faster and smarter.

Here is the article referencing Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff  statement earlier this year.

“I run my business entirely on my phone,” CEO Marc Benioff said. “I believe this is the future.” As companies store less and less data on site, more will no longer need desktops, he said.

It made me think about changing roles between email and mobile. One of the biggest early successes of mobile computing was to turn business email into mobile service. I’ve been using one with my old Blackberry and it was very reliable. Here is the thing. Mobile devices are more ubiquitous today than email. Mobile applications can be easier and more intuitive compared to the list of emails in my inbox. Mobile can be a service that can help to rethink PLM workflows bypassing email and existing complex business suites.

What is my conclusion? We need to learn how to break things that preventing us from moving forward. Email is one of them. In the past, we asked to connect every PLM workflow to the email. That was our desire to have a single point of communication. Today, our mobile phone is our single point of communication and it is more powerful than our desktop computer 10 years ago. People don’t have to be connected to their desks. Therefore, to disrupt PLM workflows by making them completely mobile can be an interesting option. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

 

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PLM: from sync to link

October 17, 2014

Data has an important place in our life. Shopping lists, calendars, emails, websites, family photos, trip videos, documents, etc. We want our data to be well organized and easy to find. Marketing folks like to use the term – data at your fingertips. However, the reality is just opposite. Data is messy. We store it in […]

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Kenesto revamp: does it change cloud PLM game?

October 16, 2014

It has been more than two years since I was reviewing Kenesto – an outfit founded by Mike Payne with the a strong vision to simplify process management. Navigate to the following article PLM, Kenesto and process experience to refresh your memories. Steve Bodnar of Kenesto put comments on my blog about Google Drive and 3rd […]

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Multiple dimensions of BOM complexity

October 15, 2014

Bill of Material topic is getting more attention these days. No surprise. BOM is a center of universe in manufacturing (and not only) world. People can disagree about terminology applied to BOM management. Depends on a specific domain people can call it part list, specification, formula. But at the same time, everybody speak about the […]

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PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud

October 14, 2014

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 […]

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How to build online community around CAD/PLM software?

October 13, 2014

  There is one thing that seems make everyone interested and listen carefully these days – online communities. To build a successful community is a tricky thing. To make a money out of community is huge. Successful online communities can provide a lot of insight about how people are communicating, what is the value of […]

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Importance of PLM and PIM bridge

October 11, 2014

PIM. Product Information Management. Sorry for brining yet another three letter acronym into discussion today. PIM stands for a discipline to manage data about products available outside of the company. Here is Wikipedia description: Product information management or PIM refers to processes and technologies focused on centrally managing information about products, with a focus on […]

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MBOM collaboration and cost of change

October 9, 2014

The only thing that is constant is change. This is very much applies to everything we do around BOM. Engineering and manufacturing eco-system are full of jokes about engineering changes. You maybe heard about renaming “engineering change order” into “engineering mistake order” as well as the correlation between number of engineers and number of ECOs […]

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