PLM, Technological Choice and Open Source Revolution

PLM, Technological Choice and Open Source Revolution

The acceptance of Open Source technologies is growing. One of the latest examples of products in open source movement that caught my attention was Lucid Imagination. Lucid is built on top of Lucene and Solr – open source search libraries and enterprise search solutions. I was thinking about trajectories of Open Source solutions and found that the majority of them started their paths from a particular technological choice. It is known as LAMP Stack. So, the topic I wanted to discuss today is what is the impact of a specific technological choice on the solution.

Open Source Technological Choice
The choice of open source technologies today is become more and more dominant for the newcomers. New software companies are selecting open source software as their default technological stacks. Web, wide adoption of OSS and low cost of the solution brings a massive amount of new business in this space. I can see a significant shift in this space compared to the last decade.

OSS driven business
It is very interesting to see a route of building OSS based business. I can figure out several aspects of this build up – technology, community, product and business. The sequence of these aspects is exactly how I mentioned them. The technological choice is based on OSS projects is the core foundation of the solution. It gives the root for creation of community of people involvement into this development. The community is one of the most fundamental elements of any OSS project. This is a live indicator of the project. As much as development becomes more mature it can be turned into a deployed product. Only at this stage, this product can be converted into business either by redistributing of the certified code or by providing consultancy and service development.

OSS and Enterprise Software
For the long period of time, enterprise software, in general, and built for the enterprise PLM, was very protective about Open Source. OSS violated some very basic rules of enterprise software business related to licensing, redistribution and liabilities of the software development companies in the context of software code originality. I can see a significant change in this trend now. Multiple OSS solutions started to be much more popular in the enterprise. Just to mention – Sugar CRM, Drupal, Alfresco as examples of acceptance of open source solution in the enterprise. The latest example is Lucene/Solr and company Lucid Imagination that are taking Lucene and Solr Enterprise Search solutions for distribution in a similar way RedHat did it for Linux.

OSS and PLM
I can see a certain opportunity in Open Source PLM innovation. The first very visible company in this space was Aras. Started on the MS code-based, they are mostly focusing on a business model. The absence of OSS technological foundation and community development can provide a significant negative impact on the Aras Open Source PLM future. However, innovation role of Aras, can be considered as a very positive in the context of building industry perception related to Open Source PLM.

What is my conclusion today? I think, open source revolution will be coming to PLM too. However, to make it happen, all aspects of Open Source influence need to come into balance. I can see a significant level of dependencies between them. It starts from the technologies that drive openness and innovation. Then it creates a community of developers and users of this software. They eventually are creating the next step- open product innovation. And, finally it comes to the business model of open source in the way of reliance on free distribution, community contribution and business profit for companies that supports the development of these models. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Mike Turcotte

    I have also seen the adoption rate of OSS by enterprise organizations accelerate over the last couple of years. The drive behind the trend has been to reduce product licensing costs and to enhance their ability to customize a solution to their specific needs.

    You present a very compelling case for leveraging Open Source technologies. Twenty years ago, when developing enterprise applications like PLM systems, we were required to develop, test and deploy most of the application logic using relational databases as the technology platform. Today, we can focus our efforts on much more user-relevant features due to the rich set of services provided by Open Source platforms.

    In fact, we at NorthRidge Software are in the process of using two of the technologies you reference in your article to provide a high value enterprise solution. We are working with Aras to develop an integration with Lucene/Solr. This solution will provide customers with a comprehensive enterprise search capability directly into Aras’ Innovator PLM, as well as other potential content sources such as Documentum, SharePoint, Intranet sites and unstructured file shares.

    We are very interested in identifying potential customers that would be motivated to participate in requirements and design discussions. Please contact me at mturcotte@nridge.com if you are interested.

  • beyondplm

    Mike, Thank you for your comment! Agree -100%, OSS can provide an interesting option to change the cost structure of enterprise software. Best, Oleg