Open Source: Is the Game Changing for PLM?

In my view, open source (or more precisely –open source software) is becoming more and more visible in the business of enterprise software. 

There is an important characteristic of PLM related to business that we need to keep in mind in order to analyze the impact of open source on PLM. There is a high segmentation of customer requirements for different industries and customers needs for different types of customers. Today’s “mindset PLM leaders” still are not capable of covering the full scope of customers’ needs. This topic makes open source both attractive and disruptive for PLM.

 On one hand, when there are many common customer requirements, open source is very beneficial.  Users have an ability to submit code from all participants of open source, for example, as in a Linux system. This scale up is very significant and allows us to develop big systems according to communities of users. But, at the same time, if there are quite many different requirements this can disadvantage of open source. 

In addition, due to the high percentage of services and customization, the ability to deliver overall PLM project as services without licenses cost is a significant advantage and changes the game of PLM system implementation. So for this type of customers, open source will probably be beneficial. At the same time, smaller customers will be more interested in standardized functionality with fixed cost that will allow them to achieve their ROI goals and less interesting when implementation turns to services projects. 

My conclusion – on one hand, open source in general and open source PLM specifically brings a significant improvement in the way we create systems for our customers. These models shift the initial discussion from license selling to customer requirements. On the other hand, it’s not clear how IP protection in different organizations will allow the crowdsourcing of open sources and common delivery in this field. This happened successfully with different non-PLM software, so it’s definitely a place we need to watch in the future.

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  • Hi Oleg,

    Thanks for coming back to this. Can you expand on the IP protection issues? I’m not sure I understand.

    thanks

    Tom

  • Tom, my view is that PLM implementation contains best practices and methodologies that belongs to specific customer. In this case customer consider this as IP about how they design, engineer and manufacturing. And in the end of the day this is becomes part of software/code. It will be interesting to discuss how Open Source models can keep this IP for customers.
    Best, Oleg.

  • François

    Hello Oleg

    I am not sure about the point that customers consider that their PLM implementation is their IP. For a while, they claim that they choose this or that PLM solution, because it contains best practices, already evaluated and validated by other companies. How many company choose a solution because they learnt that their competitor is using it?
    For some years now, companies are requiring from PLM vendors a solution they could ideally install and use out of the box, even if we kwow it is a bit dreaming.

    So I agree that open source PLM software is a place we need to watch in the future. It may be as well a new source of innovation, as often claimed by the open source community itself, for example aggregating different open source bricks to build the Product portal.

    May be the most attracting thing concern the licencing model. Often customers make enhancement request to PLM vendors, that they accept to implement if significant amount of money is guaranteed doing so, following their business model. This cause often long delays to have requests implemented by vendors. Open source has not such constrains.

    The drawback regarding open source, sometimes pointed out, is the fact that as source code is open, security holes are as well known by everybody, which may cause trouble in the mind of a CIO.

  • Regarding IP protection, I’m not sure that there is a difference between closed and open source. Both have the same issues with determining what features go into the next release.

    Most open source projects have a central organization that manages the future plans, and “official/certified” release distributions. In the case of operating system distributions there are multiple companies like Red Hat and Suse each with a slightly different focus. Support contracts and consulting are the using funding mechanisms.

    One of the big issues is licensing. Corporations are wary of Open Source because they believe that if they modify the code, they are obligated to contribute their modified code. That is true in the case the the GNU GPL licenses, but not all Open Source software licenses.

  • Licensed software put clear boundary on what included in software (code) and what is implementation / customization by customer/VAR (Services). I think this boundary is not clear in Open Source.

    With regards to contribution, I don’t think this is an issue, but in my view important to understand how it will work in the case of high diversification of requirements. I.e. what you will do with 100 different ECO implementations from different customers.

    Regards
    Oleg

  • Hi François,
    Regarding security, the belief in the open source world is that holes get patched faster for a couple of reasons:

    1. Someone in the community will patch because they don’t want to be affected by it.

    2. Since the source is available, including the author’s name, there is more accountability.

    I don’t have data to support these reasons, but, it does seem to make sense.

    Best Regards

    Tom

  • Tom, What level of person’s responsibility for such change/fix according to the Open Source License?
    Thanks – Oleg

  • Oleg,

    Regarding the ECO implementations, if 100 ECO implementations were submitted from users, they would all be available for download. Ideally the central organization would either choose the best, or develop a common ECO module that supports most of the 100 custom ones. This would be included in a future official release. Users would still have the option to use any of the custom ECO modules.

    Best Regards

    Tom

  • >What level of person’s responsibility for such change/fix according to the Open Source License?

    To the best of my knowledge, end users have no responsibility to find/report/fix any issue with Open Source licenses. There are many variations, so each license would need to reviewed.

    If a company is paying for a support contract, then they should expect fixes (assuming its part of the contract). This is no different from any other software company.

    Tom

  • Tom, Does it mean you (if you are selling support contracts) will be obligated to fix all problems even if they will come as result of implementations submitted by other customers?
    Oleg

  • Oleg, I do want to make a comment on licensing. At Aras Corp, we chose to use the Microsoft PL Open Source license. It does not require any customer code be submitted. It’s kind of funny, the Microsoft license has fewer restrictions than the GPL.

    Best Regards

    Tom

  • >Does it mean you (if you are selling support contracts) will be obligated to fix all problems even if they will come as result of implementations submitted by other customers?

    Yes, Aras sells support contracts (like maintenance) and we are committed to supporting both the standard software and all the customizations and add-ons used by this customer. In some ways we have to offer this service, because the support subscription is optional, and customers are not paying for software licenses. Since all we sell are support subscriptions, we have to be willing to support the customer no matter how he wants to use the PLM system. This would be complete madness and a very risky business without our Model-Based SOA architecture. Aras can cost effectively support 100’s of variants of ECO’s for example, because the Model-based architecture keeps a very clear separation between the model (like a skin) and the common web services.

    This brings up another interesting PLM discussion… should we be trying to drive all PLM users to a single ECO process, or is this even possible or a good thing to do?

    Best Regards

    Tom

  • Tom, Good question! How many ECO implementation do you have now? Regards, Oleg.

  • Oleg, I would say every implementation is has some variation. The standard implementation is based on the CMII standard. Some customers have modified this slightly, and at least one built his model from scratch.

    Tom

  • Tom, Can you share if you have any influence on CMII? Is there any cooperation comes from CMII?
    Thanks, Oleg

  • Oleg, we also have a second model for that ships out of the box that is a generic or simplified change process.

    Regarding CMII, Aras does not have any sort of partnership with the Institute of Configuration Management or the CMII Research Institute , but Aras Innovator is a certified tool. Here is a link to the list of certified CMII tools.

    Tom Gill
    http://www.aras.com

  • Oleg, we also have a second model for that ships out of the box that is a generic or simplified change management process.

    Regarding CMII, Aras Corp does not have any sort of partnership with the Institute of Configuration Management or the CMII Research Institute , but Aras Innovator is a certified tool. Here is a link to the list of certified CMII tools.

    Best Regards

    Tom Gill
    http://www.aras.com

  • Hi Oleg, I had some trouble posting a response yesterday.

    Regarding CMII, Aras Corp does not have any sort of partnership with the CMII Research Institute, or the Institute of Configuration Management. Aras Innovator is a certifed tool, and we will be going through the recertification for 2009. You can check out the certification list at http://www.cmiiresearch.com/tools.com.

    In addtion to the CMII change management model, Aras innovator also ships with a generic or simplified change management model. Both can be used in parallel within the same instance of Innovator.

    Best Regards

    Tom Gill
    http://www.aras.com

  • Aras Corp does not have any sort of partnership with the CMII Research Institute or the Institute of Configuration Management. Aras Innovator is a certifed tool, and we will be going through the recertification for 2009. You can check out the certification list on the CMII Research Institute web site.

    In addtion to the CMII change management model, Aras innovator also ships with a generic or simplified change management model. Both can be used in parallel within the same instance of Innovator.

    Best Regards

    Tom Gill

  • Thanks Tom!

  • Tom, sorry about delay. Your comments went to spam filter :(… How did you created simplified model? is it strip-down version of CMII or this is something based on customer’s experience?

  • I didn’t think they were that bad! ;-).

    The basic change process is not a stripped down version of CMII. There almost is no such thing. CMII is “non-negotiable”.

    Aras is working with a large number of former Agile v6 (original Agile ) customers for the definition of a simplified change process. The original Agile had a high volume of both medical devices and high-tech customers who had a developed a common process that met their needs. We used their experiences to define the requirements, business rules, UI, flows etc for the Basic Change process.

    Under the covers there is a large percentage of shared code, so Aras can easily support both CMII and Basic-CM models.

    Customer can change models on the fly, or even use both models simultaneously (by product line).

  • No, nothing bad… not sure understand how WordPress spam filter is working, but anyway..

    Thanks about explaining. I understand change process is flexible in Aras and you have multiple template (one based on CMII and others as well).

    Oleg

  • Hi Oleg,

    That last piece of spam popped this thread up again in my email, so, I thought I’d take the opportunity to post this webinar.
    ——

    The latest open release of Aras Innovator is now available, and we are excited to share with everyone the great new capabilities. So we’re doing a Live Demo webcast to go through the solutions overall and highlight some of the new additions including:

    • ECO / MCO simple engineering change workflows
    • New Redline compare capabilities for BOMs, suppliers, documents, and more
    • Search center including ad hoc queries, Microsoft Live Search, and GlobalSpec
    • Modular process planner for FMEAs and Control Plans
    • Microsoft SharePoint integration
    • Graphical Web services ‘builder’ in Solution Studio

    Date: May 8, 2009 – Friday

    Time: 11:00am Eastern USA Time Zone (-5 GMT)

    Register at: http://www.aras.com/PLM-Software/100114.aspx

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  • Ravi

    Friends,
    Am looking into spending 3-4 man months of research on an open source PLM product. The very fact that ARAS is based on .NET platform puts me off, that it may not qualify for open source? However I may be wrong and please do correct me, if am wrong.

    do suggest me with a good open source PLM product.

    I believe PLM concept can be applied to almost all domains and hence the open src plm product can be used accordingly.
    We know the goods of COTS PLM products and wish to see how much does an open source plm product comes closer to the COTS products.

    so do suggest me with a good open source PLM product u are aware of.

    thanks & regards,
    Ravi

  • Ravi, you can go with top three – Enovia V6, Windchill and TeamCenter. Btw, I think Aras Innovator is really good. Maybe not as broad as top 3 I mentioned. However, in PLM, one size doesn’t fit all. Good luck with your COTS PLM Open Source project. Btw, I’ve heard Aras is working on LAMP stack. So, maybe you can join forces. Best, Oleg

  • Garry

    Ravi,

    could you please elaborate why the ARAS based .NET platform puts you off? I am looking at ARAS at the moment and I am trying to understand the reasoning.
    Thanks Garry