PLM Life-like Search Injection

An interesting turn in PLM trajectory of Dassault Systems – the acquisition of French based Exalead. With this acquisition, we can expect new life-like energy injected into PLM life-blood. In some announcements, Exalead was mentioned as French Google. Exalead indeed shares some Google DNA coming from early days Alta Vista and DEC search experiments. DS-Exalead deal made me think again about an enterprise search trajectory in Product Lifecycle Management. Actually, I already touched this topic at least two times in my blog before: PLM and Enterprise Search: Can We Leverage It In Downstream Applications and What Is The Role Of Search In Enterprise Systems and PLM?

So, PLM+Search=? What can be hidden behind this question mark? First of all, I wanted to put some historical perspectives in the relationships of PLM and search vendors. This is actually not the first time, PLM is catching a search wave. In 2006, Autonomy and Agile Software PLM created a partnership to provide a solution together . In 2007, Dassault made the announcement about a future use of Autonomy as a technology for search in DS and ENOVIA solutions. Endecca, another enterprise search vendor signed an agreement with Kalypso PLM solution provider. The same Edecca signed an agreement with PTC, one of the major DS completitiors. The same PTC by their significant move to SharePoint over the past 2 years, have an access to Microsoft SharePoint search solution. The same Autonomy, one of the leaders in Enterprise Search solutions is providing full stack of connectors that allow them to handle PLM related information too by their IDOL platform.

So, I wanted to put some thoughts towards possible mix of PLM and Search solutions. What can be advantages of PLM and Search merger and what need to be done to analyze previous solutions?

This is the first thing, in my view. PLM will try to fix the usability problem with application of some search techniques. All PLM applications today are surviving from user adoption rate in the organization due to the complexity in user experience. To have a search solution in this space is an interesting approach. However, what is good for web search not always can work in the same way inside of the organization. This will be an interesting to challenge for search solutions .

Content Processing
Search solutions have a different perspective on how to work with data. It is really not the same as to do it for enterprise application and business process management. How it will fit? What web search is doing by manage data is not really the same as enterprise data processing. Lots of interesting questions are coming here. I assume, we’ll have chance to see soon in the  in DS-Exalead story.

Crawling data from multiple sources, enterprise search has a potential to become a federated access point for PLM apps. This is the most interesting turn, in my view. However, to execute this route, a significant shift in PLM openness needs to be done.

What is my conclusion today? DS acquisition proved again, that PLM space is alive and will continuously provide innovative solutions for enterprises. As one of the leaders in PLM and 3D, Dassault just confirmed it yesterday. The next important step will be technological convergence and new solutions coming from Dassault.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


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  • Hi Oleg,

    Interesting also the Cad model based search called ShapeSpace 3D ( Aessis made an integration of it with Aras Innovator. I’ve shown some video (just shapespace not the integration) in our blog (
    This is obviously just for Cad elements.
    I just think it would be so great that instead of searching parts, you start creating very quickly the shape of the part with a soft like spaceclaim on one screen and you would have all the similar parts appearing on the right based on shape similarities.

    just dreamin’…

    Yoann Maingon

  • Олег

    Не поиском единым жив программист. Можно подумать, что вся задача информационных систем, а тем более PDM/PLM сводится к простейшему и удобному поиску информации в них. Согласен, что редко кому удаётся постоить удобный, и главное простой для понимания конечного пользователя, поиск. Если строить все ИС в компании в едином ключе и на единой платформе, то наверное будет проще интегрировать их межу собой и в конечном итоге можно построить более менее приемлемый для всех пользователей поиск. Но уж очень это скучно.
    Согласен, поиск в 3D-сборке конкретной детали нетривиальная задача, но на то у нё и атрибуты есть, чтобы ими оперировать(про полнотекстовый поиск говорить не приходится, мало кто из конструкторов и дизайнеров в качестве артибутов к детали напишет поэму). Не думаю что от этого слияния появится 3DS-Google. Главное, чтобы пользователь выиграл.

    —translated by Google Translate—
    LIfe is not only about search. One might think that the whole purpose of information systems, and even more PDM / PLM reduces to the simple and convenient search of information in them. I agree that the few who can stand up easy, and most importantly easy to understand end-user search. If you build all the IP in a company in the same manner and on a single platform, you can probably find it easier to integrate them Mezhuyev themselves and eventually can be built more or less acceptable to all users of the search. But really it is very boring.
    Granted, search the 3D-assembly of specific parts is not trivial, but some have not, and attributes is that they operate (about full-text search is out, few engineers and designers as artibutov to write a poem details). I do not think that this merger will 3DS-Google. The main thing is that the user won.

  • Yoann, Thanks for link and comments. This is a very interesting set of videos. Duplication is a serious problem. Personally, I don’t believe search need to be only according to the shape. I remember my discussion about that with Andy Sherlock. You can take a look on my blog post year ago – Best, Oleg

  • Oleg, DS certainly has some “search” problems as well as all other PLM vendors. During last 3-4 years, PLM companies made trials to integrate with enterprise search vendors like Autonomy and Endecca. On the other side, users of PLM systems survived from complexity of PLM system in general as well as from the complexity of user interface. DS demand is probably to improve it in the future by using Exalead tools and technologies. Just my thoughts. Best, Oleg

  • Hi again Oleg,

    We’ve started referring to ‘Product Data Retrieval’ to describe the tools were building at ShapeSpace. PDM and PLM do the storage and access of product data well, but there aren’t really tools for non-trivial retrieval and mining of that data. So various tasks are hard, for instance finding duplicates, automatic classification, cost reduction over your entire population of parts, search for component re-use and so on. We’re building these tools.

    3D shape similarity is a powerful weapon in our armoury as it allows connections to be made semi-automatically between similar parts and families of parts. But, as you say, shape isn’t everything.

    The Dassault buyout of Exalead is very interesting in this regard. I think there’s more to PDR than bolting generic search onto product data, but given their background I’m sure Exalead can do some fairly sophisticated things…


    Yoann, Thanks for the mention!

  • Andy, Thanks for your comment! Again, as we discussed before, things can be more interesting when you move from geometry only to what you call non-trivial retrieval. In such context, we had chance to see the latest wave of partnerships (PTC/Endecca) and acquisition (DS/Exalead). The problem is not simple. Don’t forget, both dumped Autonomy. So, search is an interesting problem, in my view. Best, Oleg

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