PLM SOA – how to mix integrations and business processes?

soa-dangerSOA is a very oversold article these days. Even if, I think, social media and cloud successfully over hyped SOA during last one-two years, on the technological horizons SOA is still a topic that raises discussions and questions.

Wikipedia: In computing, service-oriented architecture (SOA) provides a set of principles of governing concepts used during phases of systems development and integration. Such an architecture will package functionality as interoperable services: functions provided as a service are available to be used from systems created by other organizations

So, a topic I want to touch today – what could be important components of SOA implementation in PLM. On the ground, Product Lifecycle Management should be yet another enterprise system. Why should we try to understand specific SOA topics? But, if we would take deeper look on what is going behind the scene in PLM, you probably will see what I mean.

One of the very important characteristics of PLM implementation is flexibility. Since almost every manufacturing enterprise organization is different, in the end of the days, you will find yourself making changes in your PLM environment. So, you better will be prepared and have all tools to do so. Another reason is integration with multiple external systems – design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain. All these systems need to be somehow connected together since they provide ultimate input for PLM. Last, but not least – processes. Processes are flowing across organizational domains and boundaries. To be able to handle them, you need to have an ability to be connected to process oriented environment. It is normally, PLM environment or environment that comes from IT systems (depends on what you have in organization).

So, what is my conclusion? SOA is ultimate answer to provide PLM system configured and flexible. Two most important components of PLM SOA environment are to be able to integration with external systems and manage business processes. I think, PLM SOA having such characteristics will have very good chance to success these days.

Best, Oleg.


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  • Glenn Cameron

    Oleg, great post, and the objective you define is delivered 100% by IBM’s PLM Solution, Focal Point.

  • I’ve never heard the social media types blow the SOA horn… Does V6 provide SOA integration?

  • Glenn, Thanks! What I know “Focal Point” is Rational product and this is more about development. So, how this product can help to improve PLM system flexibility? Regards, Oleg.

  • Chris, SOA is more about architecture of product. In many aspects people use SOA term differently. I think wikipedia version is not bad – And V6, evolutionally came from V5 SOA (if you remember this too year before V6 release) is aligned with these principles. Regards, Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    My main concern here is SINO (SOA In Name Only). There are many ‘SOA Implementations’ out there, but not all of them follow the principles properly. In one of my past experiences this lead to huge performance problems, which lead to all kinds of complex caching applications etc.

    The focus should not be to make everything SOA, but to see what functionality should be logically clustered and be able to work independent from other functionality. And between those clusters you need SOA integration.

  • Bhushan Teli

    I agree with Dullaart.

  • Martijn, SINO is nice abbreviation… I never heard it before! And I agree. SOA in Name is something that represent opposite side of SOA buzz (actually previous techno buzzes had the same side effect… remember “All in XML” etc.). I think there is certain level of hype create around of SOA and people use it. Let me ask you, how do you see “logical clustering” in the way SOA integration will be possible? Thanks, Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    “Logical clustering” is not an easy task. But I think that architects and functional specialists need to be more context oriented. For instance an engineer needs to be able to create and change a BOM, while he is not interested in allocating a BOM to a supplier or to manage service parameters.

    Also an MBOM has more logistical information than an EBOM, so slowly we move from an engineering domain to a logistical domain. This means that data is interpreted in a different way and other kinds of functionality is required.

    Again it will not be easy to do this, but it is a necessity to make SOA integration a success. Also there are a lot of grey areas and I do not have a quick answer for that yet.

  • Martijn, I think I got your point. You mean data created by enterprise organization (engineering/manufacturing if you will), actually clustered with silos of organization, people etc.? This is indeed difficult problem and I think all enterprise systems are trying to resolve it with different level of success. Thanks for your comments! Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    Oleg that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.