PLM Architecture, Cloud and Design Versions

I’ve been reading Ray Kurland interviewing Rich Allen of Dassault Systems SolidWorks Corp. about the future of SolidWorks’ cloud solutions. To read this article, follow this link. Have a read and make your opinion. This interview made me think about some fundamental PDM/PLM paradigms related to management of data. Sometime, new technologies can change old and cumbersome paradigms. Let me think if managing product data on the cloud can make some difference in patterns we use to do it now.

Workspace – Server
A very old pattern started in the early days of PDM. You keep your design data locally to access by CAD and other desktop tools. You PDM app is actually transferring these files/data to secured PDM server. Last trends show that workspaces are moving to users-dedicated spaces on corporate servers. Many of PDM problems are actually started from workspace-server paradigm. Synchronization of user workspace and PDM file servers without burden CAD user flow was a key to success in integration of CAD and PDM together.

Veritcal PLM Integration
One of the options to simplify workspace-server problems is to bundle CAD system with a server back-end. In my view, this process started to happen, and all major CAD/PLM vendors are working to improve their vertical integrations. Unfortunately, customers are the biggest problem in vertical integrations. For multiple reasons, customers are not working with a single CAD system and preventing total unification and vertical integration.

CAD Data Cloud and Design Version
How we can fix old paradigm by shifting patterns of workspace/server data management to something more straightforward. Let just keep CAD documents somewhere on the cloud. Do we really need local file workspace? Actually, we do. All desktop CAD systems are designed to work with files located somewhere. Can we change this behavior by allowing them to get the same data from cloud location? Maybe we can reduce a complication of revision management in CAD/PDM/PLM and will make it as simple as Google Docs Revisions?

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PLM Cloud Architecture
I found the following quote from Rich Allen’s interview interesting. It seems to me the paradigm shift already started, and vendors are thinking how to apply existing and modified technologies to a new cloud paradigm.

We will base all of our future cloud applications on the ENOVIA V6 infrastructure. This will help us leverage our own technology across all the brands. It should be noted that with cloud computing, the engine is on the cloud –- end-users only will be concerned with the client they use to access the application, so we don’t expect users to have to install ENOVIA servers at their site to benefit from cloud computing.

What is my conclusion? Cloud technologies can bring a paradigm shift. The biggest advantage is to simplify user’s workflow. The design revision workflow is one of the most problematic in CAD/PLM world. Cloud thinking can help, in my view. Vendors will try to optimize existing CAD and PLM infrastructures. However, to realize this paradigm shift is not a simple job. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Oleg – I think you are on the right track. A paradigm shift in thinking is required to get the most advantage from “The Cloud”. If we just think about moving servers to the cloud, we are only giving a new name to Hosting, OnDemand, or SaaS. Very small value in my opinion. Cloud potential is much bigger if we follow your advice and think about business process and data differently. The discussion of the Cloud could include running in multiple clouds; for example I can imagine a shared “community” cloud of similar manufacturers that manages the lifecycle of standard parts, working together with a “private” cloud of proprietary design data. CAD sessions might be connected to many “Clouds” simultaneously during one design session. We should also consider that mixed mode (some data and processes running in Clouds and some on-site) is a valid configuration. In a mixed-CAD model, an environment with both on-site and Cloud components might be the optimal solution. But first we have to re-think about the business processes and core design configuration management processes and data. This will give us a clue about how to best apply Cloud concepts.

  • Peter, Thanks for your comments! A paradigm shift is an important thing when you think about such technologies like cloud. The idea of local workplace was dominant for managing CAD data for the last 15-20 years, and it is going to die with the introduction of cloud-solutions. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg
    PS. Just note – you can read the same posts on BeyondPLM.com. The new site is using DISQUS as a commenting system. I’d encourage you to move to http://beyondplm.com.