PLM Architecture, Cloud and Design Versions

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?

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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  • Guest

    I think the biggest technical issue today with CAD data being on cloud is the latency issue. Isn’t it?

    Of course customers are also having lot of questions and skeptic about the overall approach, security etc., but I think vendors are taking care of that.


  • beyondplm

    I don’t think latency is an issue. I think, visualization technologies are pretty sophisticated these days. The biggest problem I see is a choice of a stable technological platform. Cloud market is in a very premature state. Who will be a leader and how to develop in such a situation? This is the biggest “?”. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Guest

    Thanks for your views.

    As we know that Working with a CAD model requires transmitting significantly more data back and forth between the client machine and the host machine. Is there any solution which works with 1Mbps bandwidth for CAD on SaaS?

    Can you please elaborate on these visualization technologies which are being used to address the latency issue ?

    Thanks again.

  • beyondplm

    Surendra, Thanks for your comment and link sharing. I remember this article, back in “after-SolidWorks-World-2010” times. I see two separate aspects here – (1) how to deliver graphic performance and (2) how to keep data on cloud. The second one is an interesting, since it can end the data fragmentation due to managing “secured vault” and local workspace (typical in PDM systems). The 1st one is something that expected to be solved by CAD companies if we follow their promises and previews. Some virtualization technologies can come from Games developers (think about Games on demand). Best, Oleg

  • Milind Patwardhan

    Hi Oleg,

    Thanks for the insightful information as usual.
    Regarding the problem of “who will be the leader” it might be safer to go with existing PLM market leaders who are entering into cloud, e.g. DS making ENOVIA available on cloud.
    Other issues are also the customization and certainly security as the data involved here is most probably the competitive advantage of the company.

  • beyondplm

    Milind, thank you for your comment!
    There is an advantage to go with big established vendors. At the same time, clearly their solution will include a tradeoff to support both – on premise and cloud options. So, cloud-demanded customers will buy the best on-premise/on-cloud compromise. ENOVIA V6 will be running on both cloud and premise, as I can imagine.
    Security is a tricky problem. Vendors are trying to address it with the concept of “private cloud”. I think it will take a time. In addition, I think, smaller customers will be ready early to get into “the cloud story”.
    Best, Oleg

  • Yaron Rosenbaum


    Cloud is just a technology. It is very promising for some scenarios, but still, a technology and not a silver bullet. Technology alone, without the right implementation, concept and vision – leads to the same old problems (you cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking that was used to create it in the first place).

    And let’s face it, we’ve been seeing this pendulum go back and forth from client-centric to server-centric computing for decades now, cloud is just one more swing (a mainframe that is being run by someone else?).

    There’s definitely a lot of mess in today’s IT world. And when there’s a big mess, there’s always a wish for a silver bullet that would fix all the problems of the ‘old world’. We’ve seen this before numerous times, with technologies and buzz like: Java, .Net, Jini, AJAX, SAAS, SOA, ESB, Application servers, yada yada.

    If there’s a mess, and you put it on the cloud, you get.. a mess in the cloud.

    While each and every one of these technologies are great, they don’t solve a single problem.
    If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. It might as well be Cloud.

  • beyondplm

    Yaron, Thanks for comments and your insight. In my view, cloud (as a technology) can come to transform a software paradigm in the enterprise. What works for a single (even very big) organization, won’t work when it moves on cloud (this is what you call – a mess in the cloud). The paradigm shift relates to many things – technology, strategy, business models. Today, PLM companies are trying to move their products towards the cloud and use existing architectures and technologies. This is a possible, but probably not optimal approach. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Yaron Rosenbaum

    Oleg, thanks for your reply.
    We are almost on the same page. It’s time for something new.

    It goes right back to the punch-card photo; (of course this is an exaggeration but for the sake of making a point (in a funny way)) – does it make sense to put punch-cards in the cloud?

    Let me put it this way:
    There’s 3 dinosaurs fighting each other fiercely, and hey – what’s that bright light in the sky? is it the sun? it looks like it’s becoming bigger and bigger, it can’t be…

    Let’s wait and see.


  • beyondplm

    Yaron, What companies you mentioned as three dinosaurs?