PLM and SharePoint Scalability

PLM and SharePoint Scalability

Since Microsoft first released MOSS 2007, I can see an increased amount of manufacturing companies are investigating a potential move to SharePoint. Microsoft used brilliant freemium strategy and decided to give away a basic version of SharePoint (WSS – Windows SharePoint Services) bundled to Windows Server license. It created a significant flow of SharePoint viral evaluations in companies. Because of deployment and implementation ease, many companies started to implement WSS to improve the ability to share data and streamline collaboration. Sometimes, the solution growths can be really spontaneous.

I found the link published by Paul Andrew of Microsoft, very useful to evaluate your need and check upfront if your organizational demand and scale can fit SharePoint boundaries. The following two documents Estimate Performance and Capacity Requirements for Large Scale Document Repositories and SharePoint Server 2010 capacity management: Software boundaries and limits will take you to a long journey of planning an appropriate environment for your future SharePoint implementations.

During last few years, some PLM vendors and their partners made a bet on SharePoint as a platform to mainstream PLM deployment in organizations. User experience and IT compliance are two factors that made a significant influence on vendors, partners and companies. Such products as Windchill ProductPoint or TeamCenter Community are completely relying on Office and SharePoint platform as an infrastructure.

What is my conclusion? Microsoft SharePoint is a large a complicated platform. Sometimes, I can see people having some illusions with regards how easy they can deploy SharePoint based solution for their product development needs. To check detailed SharePoint pre-requisites and make sizing of your drawings and other product-related information is obvious, but important. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

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  • DavidChadwick

    Our Solid Edge Insight customers are seeing good scalability with our SharePoint based design data management solution for our Solid Edge CAD users. I was talking with one customer recently – a medium sized manufacturing company here in the US – who has 200 of their technical staff accessing design data using Insight and SharePoint. They commented that the services time and costs to implement Insight to replace their traditional PDM system were a fraction of what they spent to implement the previous system.
    Interesting to me is that a lot of our customers are still using WSS when they have the option to use MOSS 2007 (and now SharePoint 2010) that have more extensive collaboration capabilities. I think there is a lot of scope for these customers to develop their SharePoint based PDM solutions further – but they seem happy with WSS!

  • Kalle Niemi

    Hi Oleg. I used to work for Quest Software selling complementary solutions to Microsoft infrastructure and have recently made a career jump to PLM- & MDM business. I have to agree with you that people have those “easy-to-deploy” illusions about SharePoint. SharePoint is more or less a platform, not a tool by itself. It has serious limitations to user rights management & centralzed management overall. MOSS 2010 is far better in these areas than MOSS 2007 but not even near perfect. If you really want to admin SharePoint & some integrated PLM-solution, you’ll need some third-party tools to do that properly.

    Summary: There is a lot of hidden costs in SharePoint that should be taken in to consideration when deploying SharePoint. Other than that, SharePoint is a great platform when used properly.

  • beyondplm

    David, Thanks for your comments! About WSS, I agree – people tend to strip their needs when they need to jump from free packages to be licensed and paid version. This is I believe a case with WSS. Regarding to the comparison of TCO between SharePoint and PDM, I think SolidEdge Insight is a very simple product and not requires any customization. As soon as you are coming to customize SharePoint, I expect the cost to jump to the same level of regular PDM/PLM implementations. Just my opinion, of course… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    David, thanks for sharing this information. In this case, can you consider SharePoint as a competitor of PDM/PLM solutions? Especially if we are talking about small companies… If so, what are pros and cons? Thanks, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Kalle, thanks for your comment! I agree. This is an important point many companies are missing when it comes to the implementation of SharePoint and SharePoint as an alternative for PDM/PLM solutions. Do you have any materials presenting this hidden cost in numbers? Best, Oleg

  • Kalle Niemi

    I do not have any accurate calculations of the hidden costs but the old 20 % Licenses – 80 % Upkeep TCO-rule applies well in SharePoint.

    For example if you have a 10 000 user SharePoint environment and you allow users to create and maintain their MySites (I recall this is what those profile pages were called in MOSS2007) you’ll soon find yourself battling with storage capacity as they start to upload their vacation pictures and stuff 🙂

    Correct me if I’m wrong but if you plan to use SharePoint as a PDM-system, you’ll need to maintain three different layers: The tailored PDM-solution, SharePoint itself & the SQL Server enviroment. Make that four layers if you want to consider the server hardware & OS also.

  • beyondplm

    Kalle, thanks for sharing this data. I agree with the assumption- if you implement SharePoint, you’ll need to take care about all infra layers behind SharePoint – SQL server, storage etc. I’m really interested to learn how SolidEdge Insight is doing so. Maybe David Chadwick (commenting on this post) will share Siemens’ experience about that. Best, Oleg