Future PDM’s Trajectories

I think that with all the hype about Product Lifecycle Management, we completely forgot about Product Data Management (PDM). Despite the fact that we don’t like to speak about PDM too much, I think that some very interesting might happen with Product Data Management in the future

1. Be integrated and become a natural part of CAD and Design Systems.

As many more technologies are going to be developed around CAD, developers of PDM systems can put their efforts into a specific CAD system. In practical terms, this means that we will develop “satellites” to CAD systems. Is this good or bad?… In my opinion, the significant work needs to be done to bridge between CAD and PDM. As soon as it this is possible, it will be very beneficial.

2. Provide Product Data Services in the Enterprise

Consolidate efforts and capabilities of PDM systems and use them as an extended PDM platform in the enterprise. This is actually very possible, in my view. PDM systems provide an advanced set of features such as BOM, Workflow, Sourcing and more…

3. Expand beyond PDM into PLM areas

Are expanded PDM and PLM the same thing? My answer is no. By joining the “PLMish” world, the company will expand their products horizontally. So, from the functional standpoint, solutions beyond PDM can become very promising if they can manage additional domains of data.

So, whatever option you choose, PDM is the key enabling technology for enterprises to make data about products more available. I’d specifically mention option #1. For most of the CAD systems today, there is a specific satellite PDM system. So, the next actions are to make these PDM services widely available in the enterprises.


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  • How about cloud based storage and back-up? I don’t think we’ll see the replacement of a local vault for a while, but the potential for a “synched” copy in the cloud would serve as a cost effective backup, allow for easier work across geographically distributed teams, and permit ease of sharing with key vendors (molders, sheet metal, etc.). I’m not aware of anyone delivering this yet.

  • yml

    Hello Oleg,

    I like the concept behind 1 very much and this already exist in different domain :
    * alfreco enable you to “mount” a folder directly into your file explorer. like this the user can interact with their files in similar way than if the file was stored localy.

    * tortoiseSVN is a Subversion client, implemented as a windows shell extension : http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=138498

    * Filesystem in Userspace could be also another approach. here is is some example of already implemented filesystems :http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/fuse/index.php?title=FileSystems

    The common characteristic of all this approaches is that the application editing the file don’t know that the file is not “local”. The net benefit of this is that you do not have to develop one integration per authoring tool.

    my 2 cts

  • Mark, cloud based storages make a lot of sense for me. Something like Amazon’s AWS or other. The problem is if companies will agree to use it. I bet it will come very soon, but since I’m techie, I probably too optimistic with regards to user adoption rate. Good security agreement for this cloud based storage can be deal breaker. As soon as it will happen, technology will be available pretty soon. What do you think? =Oleg.

  • yml, thanks! Agree. In the same way you actually don’t know PDMWorks is using virtual vault, but you still use file explorer functionality, the same will happen with cloud based stuff in my view. Thanks a lot for links! Cheers, Oleg.

  • Mark look at jungledisk. Sync to the amazon cloud anything on your computer. And you can access from anywhere (if you configure it). There are many others…

  • Chris, thanks! Agree. there are many other similar solutions. But this is not product data management. This is just about to store files. The big question if CAD and other products will start to work seamlessly with such storages? Regards, Oleg

  • YML this is a very good point. This is what we are doing for Vuuch documentation (tortoiseSVN). I have been amzed at how well it works, you don’t even know it is there. Has made me wonder why it is so difficult in PDM/PLM.

  • Oleg what do you think users would say if the files were being replicated witout them knowing? Do you think they would see it as a good thing if they did not have to checkin/out file?

  • I know it is not PDM but it is not far from it. Have you tested some of these solutions with CAD data? I think with very little work it would do alot. I wonder how much of this will be delivered through what PTC is doing with Sharepoint/Productpoint?

  • Chris, this is tricky point. I’d love to see “hidden data management”. However, nobody did it until now. I’d love to discuss how to define something that work simple for this purpose. Best, Oleg

  • Chris, re vuuch… I will try to be “PLM advocate” 🙂 now… I believe vuuch is not touching management of vaults and files. Everything runs like user (or PDM system) need to take care about file/data management… right? Oleg.

  • What is the user said yes keep it updated and then they were done? This would allow them to decide and then they would not need to think about it…

  • Chris, I haven’t had chance to test ProductPoint. On the surface, user interface I see is quite similar to other “CAD data management” even delivered in SharePoint frame. May be PTC folks will comment on this 😉 better ;)? Some other products I’ve seen in SP behaves similar to traditional PDMs… Best, Oleg

  • Chris,

    >>>What is the user said yes keep it updated and then they were done? This would allow them to decide and then >>>they would not need to think about it…

    This scenario works well if you have one user works with single assembly. As soon as you have many people doing multiple changes scenario becomes a little bit more complicated. But, as I said, I’m sure there are lot of space to innovate here in my view.

    Best, Oleg

  • TortoiseSVN (Subversion) is nice. But it usually uses a copy-modify-merge version control model. It has algorithms for merging changes in text files when 2 or more users change the same file at once. Building merge algorithms for CAD files I’d expect to be a bit more tricky – and prone to costly mistakes, text is hard enough.

    You can lock files, but then only one user can change a file at a time.

  • Andrew, thanks for this explanation! This is what I see – data management becomes to be integrated part of CAD with all advantages and disadvantages…. Best, oleg

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