Migrations Between PLM Systems

Migrations Between PLM Systems

Microsoft announce SQL Server migration assistant for MySQL. It seems to me, Microsoft is thinking about how to expand their SQL tool’s market share. As a step towards this direction Microsoft is thinking how to provide an easy and smooth way to migrate from one data management system to another. I’m not an expert in database migrations. However, reading about Microsoft migration tools made me think about migration between different PLM and PDM systems in manufacturing world.

Reasons to Migrate

What if.. you want to migrate from one PLM system to another one? Such a situation is not completely rare and companies are moving between tools and product suites due to different things happens in PLM eco-system. Such a situation may happen as a consequence of M&A when companies are merging their IT stacks and PLM systems used by companies before or after acquisition. In addition, customers are deciding to move into a better tool – another “good” reason for migration. At the same time, there are multiple situations when customers need to migrate between PLM tools because  vendors going out of business, software companies acquisitions and other reasons. What happens if you are migrating between systems, and you don’t have an appropriate tool? I decided to put few options that can give you some values in product migrations.

Migrate vs. Legacy

However, to migrate between systems is not a simple task. It takes time and requires a complex set of tasks to move data, change working processes and tools. In some situations, companies prefer to keep existing systems and use data inside as a legacy data. This cannot be considered as an excellent choice. However, in a business world, it can be a very reasonable compromise. Some PLM companies are providing federation systems that can help to maintain such situations.


Another option to resolve the situation with outdated PLM/PDM system. You can decide to develop mashup applications. This is a very popular practice in the Web world. You can develop mashup applications to consume a data located in outdated or legacy PLM/PDM systems. The consumer (user) layer will be new and fancy. Behind the scene, the legacy system will be kept up and running.

ETL and Other Integration Tools

This is another way to handle a transition of data between your old PDM/PLM and a new one. ETL (extract-transform-load) tools can allow you to retrieve data in a variety of formats from databases and proprietary data sources, transform it and transmit into a target system.

What is my conclusion? I think, PLM migration topic is a very complicated one. Changes in multiple systems, different versions, customization and implementations made  this space a bit messy. To put some lights into this space can be benficial for users and vendors.

Best, Oleg

Update: I just got the following information from Brad Holtz of Cyon Research via twitter. It seems to me very interesting in the context of the conversation related to migrations between different PLM systems.


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  • Hi Oleg,

    To share some stats we have at TEC: system replacement has become a more popular reason triggering the selection of a new PLM solution: 22.3% PLM seekers need a new PLM systems to replace a legacy system and 6.3% need to replace a current vendor (year 2009 data).

    Some of my thoughts about PLM migration at http://www.technologyevaluation.com/research/articles/plm-migration-migrate-your-mind-first-20900/ (registration needed).

    Best, Kurt

  • Oleg,

    The information from Brad confirms what we are seeing in the market as well. Between M&A and replacement of obsolete systems PLM and PDM migration is becoming more and more of an issue. Unfortunately there is no standard way to extract data out of one system and populate another. You really have to approach it on a case by case basis. History in particular is a challenge when trying to migrate. Most companies will take a “latest only” snap shot and move forward and keep the legacy system in a sustaining mode. Given the different architectures and schemas of PLM and PDM tools I don’t see this issue becoming any easier in the future.

  • beyondplm

    Kurt, thanks for your comments and link to your article. I think, 25% is bit high range for systems that have might have such a long implementation cycle as PLM. It is interesting to get more details about who is moving and why. In my view, M&A external and internal PLM tools’ consolidation is one of the reasons why companies are moving. Long implementations and implementation failures is probably the second one. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Stephen, thanks for your comment! Agree, as a result continues consolidation on the PLM market, we are going to face an increased amount of customers moving to new systems or consolidating their PLM efforts. The complexity of existing systems is very high. Even vendors themselves have difficulties in migrating from their own legacies. If you don’t see any future promise, maybe it can create an additional opportunity on the market?Best, Oleg

  • Having performed several data migration, I agree that it is a complex task, but it provides a value. I confirm that this task is under rated by companies, which is strange if we consider that the data in the new system has not more value as the one in the legacy system.
    But compared to some years ago, ther are some tools in the market that can accelerate the legacy data analysis and the whole migration process. Those tools can as well automate some tasks in case a repeated migration on cloned systems has to be done.
    Nevertheless, the average time to keep running a given system is decreasing compared to years ago, meaning it is more and more usual to change an IT system, so we will see more and more data migration tasks in the future. I hope seeing more smart tools in order to perform such tasks, especially more high level tools which are not only dedicated to a given system pair.

  • beyondplm

    Francois, Thanks for your comment and insight! Can you elaborate more on tools you mentioned? With regards to the average time of keeping IT systems, I don’t have much statistical information. As much as cost of keeping an existing system is growing, purchasing news licenses of competing PDM/PLM product can be a favorable choice. I remember, Microsoft mentioned once that average ERP lifecycle is 7 years. Maybe somebody from analytical community can give us this number for PDM/PLM. Best ,Oleg

    Best, Oleg