The Biggest PLM Challenge on the Cloud

We’ve had a discussion about the  future and benefits of cloud applications. Without rehashing the conversation too much, it seems obvious as to how an offering based on Cloud Computing and SaaS/PaaS/IaaS can simplify application development, streamline implementation and improve ROI. But what is the biggest challenge of PLM on the cloud?

 I think that a Cloud and SaaS offering can provide enough benefits to be launched very soon. For example, the computing capabilities initially announced by Autodesk, project Autodesk ShowRoom will make third-party computing resources available for designers. IBM, together with Dassault Systmes also mentioned Cloud computing as part of their strategies.

 Today, I’d like to raise an issue that, in my opinion, is crucial to making the PLM cloud journey successful over the long-term. This issue is Application Integration. As a system becomes more and more distributed and disparate within and across organizational boundaries, the need to keep a log? of transaction and communication between these systems also grows. This problem is already known but the capabilities of the system to be integrated for enterprise deployment are much bigger compared to future cloud-based options. In order to deploy PLM successfully, organizations will need to integration tools and processes across multiple applications.

 This problem is not unique for PLM applications, but also exists for other enterprise applications that are moving to a SaaS / Cloud zone. We can see similar challenge in the CRM and Finance Application offerings. An example of a company offering a cloud-based application that solves integration needs is Workday. Workday offers business and CRM applications. To solve their growing integration needs, Workday acquired a company called CapeClear and established an ‘Integration on Demand’ offering.

 To sum up, I think that integration will cause enterprise cloud deployments to face significant challenges and will require solutions beyond standard SOA and Web Services-based offerings. It will be interesting to see how ISVs will recognize and face these challenges.  I also would like to learn from your personal experience with this issue.

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