CAD, PLM and Technological Trajectories

CAD, PLM and Technological Trajectories

I read CIMData article Windchill Evolving Lineage. Navigate your browser on the following link. I found this read interesting. CIMData is an analytical company working primarily with PLM providers and their customers. This article is a nice explanation about PTC technological evolution. Two months ago PTC announced new Creo products on their Lightening event in Boston. Since then, CAD and PLM community is discussing intensively what actually PTC is inventing in Creo. Windchill was the product that wasn’t mentioned much during the Creo event. The following article just confirms that PTC is continuing to build their PDM future on top of Windchill foundation.  I specially liked this passage from the CIMdata article.

…new applications, which all leverage the Windchill foundation layer, can only be as good as the foundation upon which they have been built. And as we all know, a weak foundation cannot support what has been constructed on top for long without either collapsing or being redeveloped. Fortunately, PTC has understood this basic truth for years and has a long history of evolving Windchill’s foundation and the solutions that have been built on it. The bottom-line is Windchill and the 900+ SQL tables that exist across all of its modules, while still a 100% Internet-based solution, have been evolving for years. A close study of Windchill shows that it is not the same solution it was ten years ago, and that’s a good thing.

I found a information about 900 SQL tables interesting and wanted to read more about what changed in Windchill. Based on additional information the following examples presented changes in Windchill infrastructure over the time: Info*Engine (EAI module acquired from Axilium) was re-written in Java,  UML/Rational Rose related implementation moved into Java, incorporation of Open Source technologies to replace commodity code and significant investment into Microsoft’s technologies such as SharePoint and Project Server.

Technological Trajectories
I see interesting trajectories in development of PLM and enterprise technologies over the past decade and even more. There are two main characteristics on these trajectories: evolution and convergence. The reasons for that are slow changes in manufacturing companies (especially big ones) and multiple acquisitions that were made by enterprise companies for the last 10 years. Companies were locked by commitments to existing customers, existing architectures acquired from different companies. Nevertheless, I can see CAD/PLM companies made an effort to introduce technological innovation. As such, Dassault released V6 with the revolutionary proposal to manage CATIA data by using MatrixOne data engine, UGS/Siemens PLM introduced a new version of their TeamCenter Unified product and now PTC is going to come with new Creo product line.

Consumerization of Enterprise IT
This is an interesting trend, in my view. Lots of technologies were developed for the last ten years in consumer software space. These technologies may create a significant pressure on today’s enterprise software providers. Open Source, Cloud, Social – this is probably a short list only of possible technological influences. We can see some traction in CAD and PLM companies in trying to leverage these technologies. However, as I mentioned before slow changes in enterprise manufacturing companies make these implications less visible in a short period of time.

What is my conclusion? Existing PLM software is developed using 15-20 years old technologies. 900 SQL Tables in Windchill is impressive information. I believe other PDM/PLM products are similar. What will be the next technological trajectory in the development of these applications? Will Windchill technology evolution CIMData presents in the article is a right path to go? What will allow to decrease a cost of the future PLM software? Right questions to ask, in my view.

Best, Oleg

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  • Stephen Porter

    Nice one Oleg,
    Another question that bears asking is what happens to CAD agnostic vendors like Oracle and Aras when CAD vendors bury PDM/PLM in the CAD tool like V6?

  • beyondplm

    Stephen, thanks! I’m planning coming posts on CAD-agnostic stuff. I’d differentiate CAD-agnostic and ERP… Best, Oleg