Open Standards and Data Sharing

Open Standards and Data Sharing

What do you think about the role of standards in CAD and PLM? Some of recent development in Open Standards made me think about CAD and PLM related standards again. I had a chance to discuss “the standards” theme several times in the past on my blog. Navigate to the following links to catch up the discussion.

PLM and Open Standards – Money Talks?
PLM Standards: From Formats to Frameworks
What is the future of CAD and PLM Standards?
Open PLM – A Climb for Losers?

Standards: Obvious and Expensive

In my view, customers are interested in standards. Their reaction on standard is normally positive. The benefits of standard-related activities for customers are obvious. In the past large manufacturing companies were involved in the successful standard development. STEP is probably one of the examples. At the same time, I cannot see vendors are signing up for open standards in the world of CAD and PLM. They are mostly reactive and keep balance of supporting standard and proprietary system development.

Data Sharing and Standards

Manufacturing is global these days. To be able to exchange information between in-shore and off-shore, OEM and suppliers, vendors and partners become extremely important. Do you think “data sharing” problem will disappear with the development of open standards? I don’t see direct dependencies. Obviously, it will be easier to exchange data using standards. However, the devil is in details. The support of particular application features and/or data elements will give us a right answer on this question.

What is my conclusion? To support open standard is expensive tax. Who will pay it? Customers? Vendors? My favorite joke: Standards like toothbrushes. Everybody needs them, but nobody wants to use somebody else one. Next month, I’m going to attend Eurostep Share-A-Space 2011 Forum. Read more about this forum on LinkedIn. I hope to learn more the potential role of Eurostep in the supporting of standards as well as about development of commercial systems based on such a standard like STEP and PLCS. I’m going to live blog from there, so stay tuned…

Best, Oleg
Freebie.

Share

Share This Post

  • Hi Oleg,
    I agree – customers want standards, but the major PLM platform vendors are reluctant. Customers would have to pay the huge fee of doing a standards-based integration between the various PLM components themselves instead of being able to use the systems “out of the box”.
    I see conflicting goals between “stable international standard” and “leading edge performance”. The heavy, 2-3 year ISO standardization cycles prevent a standard like JT to be the latest and greatest when it finally reaches IS status. So customers have to decide about priorities – standard or performance.
    Best regards,
    Jens

  • Hakan Karden

    Oleg (and Jens),
    standards is by most people viewed as you say. And standards in PLM is mostly thought of as CAD/viewing too for whatever reason. Probably this relates to the fight between vendors and at the same time it is easy to relate to. I am not defending all standards work but some is for sure excellent and will define next generation PLM. And now we are talking true PLM.

    The cool thing is that PLCS and STEP AP233 (systems engineering data) is not anymore the smallest common denominator – rather the opposite and defined by users – not vendors. The models are overlapping and complementary and VERY rich. No single PLM vendor has implemented all. The standards are useful for implementation today but in many ways they can also be used as a vision, the map of the future. They are sometimes referred to as Enterprise wide so at another level than JT for sure. Even if you use only a part of them today, you know that the complete map is already there, once you decide to use more.

    In order to avoid the lenghty ISO process some of the work is going on in other standardization bodies like OASIS. The AP233 partly in/via INCOSE. With some success but with learning still going on.

    Looking forward to have Oleg join us at the Share-A-space Forum in May 19-20 (Stockholm).
    We will then demonstrate that Standards based PLM is delivering Real Value and is affordable.
    And with a good implementations performance is there too.

    The major PLM vendors struggle to understand the value of standards such as PLCS – it does not fit with the way they do business.

    Regards,
    Håkan
    CEO Eurostep Group

  • beyondplm

    Jens, thanks for your insight! The dependencies between ISO standardization cycles and performance is interesting. I see standard activity to become more stable and not to happen on a monthly basis :). However, maybe I’m missing some points here… Can you, please explain? Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Håkan, thanks for your insight and comments. I’m looking forward to learning more about “Standard based PLMs”. Thanks, Oleg

  • Hakan Karden

    I understand where Jens is coming from (I think) and many times standards are too little and too late. So they do not get used in as originally intended because they have become almost obsolete. And vendors can optimize performance if they do not have to be standards based and depending on a strange and unmanageble democratic process. Guess one can compare with United Nations and the endless discussions there with little or no result in practice.

    But sometimes organizations like NATO, UN etc deliver. And with some part of STEP such as PLCS and AP233 (and some others) the story will be different too.

    The issue with these are almost if it is too much and to early. The user needs are there, no issue about this, but who buys the solutions? Who is measured on overall company performance, the business across the complete life cycle and including the full network of suppliers, partners, customers etc. Yes, the CEO is but is he the buyer of PLM? Not yet at least. And the CEO/CFO who buys ERP have a hard time to understand PLM because it is hard to define and to technical today. So it is still easier to sell stove pipe/niche solutions delivering only parts of PLM. And business goes where it is easy.

    In addition, when good standards are now available they might tilt the power of the PLM industry from vendors to users. Most of the community including users as well as vendors need to learn how to deal with this. For users comes more responsability and for vendors comes embracing standards or go on as today.

    My view.

    Regards,
    Håkan
    CEO Eurostep Group

  • beyondplm

    Hakan, I think, you’ve made an interesting point. When CIO is buying ERP, the ultimate goal is to take a control of company finance activities. Later it came to manufacturing. PLM is always (at least today) about product development. Companies decided about global PLM when they had no other chance to organize their product development process w/o these systems. However, many engineering IT managers are still on the side of thinking about “potential alternatives” to PLM. In my view, standards are not associated with “problem solving”. In the best case, it is “yet another way to implement the system”. W/o vendors support, Engineering IT needs to have many strong supporters to follow this path. I’m very interested to understand more about this topic. I believe, there are lots of unknowns here. Just my thoughts. YMMV. Best, Oleg

  • Hi Oleg (and Hakan),
    regarding the possibility of standards being late, I agree with Hakan: especially STEP AP233 are so advanced that they can serve as a glimpse of future for quite some time.
    My comment regarding performance was targeted at the actual visualization performance of JT compared to other lightweight formats such as Dassault’s 3D XML and PTC’s ProductView. The first submission from Siemens PLM to ISO was based on JT 8.1. The current ISO JT version is based on JT 9.5. And the next ISO JT version is already in the process. This indicates that we have faster turnaround cycles in standards for visualization formats than in standards for data exchance / data models (STEP). This reflects the user requirements for high performance in visualization vs. stability in data exchange.
    Best regards,
    Jens

  • beyondplm

    Jens, Can I take your insight in a slightly different direction? Why, do you think, customer needs to worry about ISO? Think about OSS (open source). Everybody uses the last stable version of the software (based on their understanding of what needed) and happy so far. Why it cannot work in the place of standards? Do you have any idea? Best, Oleg

  • Hakan Karden

    Oleg,
    if ISO would standardize the SW code I would be worried. Open Source or Proprietary SW – go for best of breed and price performance. There will always be alternatives which is a good thing.

    The important thing is that ISO STEP incl PLCS and AP233 etc standardize the information models – this is where the value is and what needs to be stable. It is like any infrastructure – we need to agree on some basics and within these contraints allow for best of breed. You can buy any kind of lamp but this is because of systems that standardize frequence and voltage etc.

    Regards,
    Håkan
    CEO Eurostep Group

  • beyondplm

    Hakan, I’m not suggesting ISO to certify OSS. However, what do you think about OS data information models? Can we make information model with Creative Common LA? Does it make sense to you? Best, Oleg

  • Hakan Karden

    STEP, PLCS etc is open source.
    You will have to buy the standard spec but it is open for sure.

    Regards,
    Håkan

  • Hi Oleg,
    in my understanding, ISO standard is a different quality than open. The ISO process makes sure that there is only one standard for any given field of application. The whole process with ballots etc. also ensures a certain level of quality. This is not true for open. Openness is just one of the qualities that an ISO standard provides. Every vendor and customer should be able to adopt an ISO standard, but I doubt that e.g. Dassault adopts JT just because it’s open….
    As always – my view,
    Jens

  • Hakan Karden

    Oleg,
    You have identified one issue with how the PLM term “is used”. It should include early systems engineering phases as well as aftermarket/product support. If PLM is limited to design/development I suggest using PDM.

    Regards,
    Håkan
    CEO Eurostep Group

  • beyondplm

    Hakan, The definition of Open Source is vague. I’m not pretending to have an original one. However, mine is something compliant to open source initiative – http://www.opensource.org/licenses/index.html. Does it fit your rule? Why did you define STEP and PLSC as Open Source? Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Jens, agree. ISO is trying to create one to one relationships between the domain field and standard. “Open” has a different notion, in my view. For example, wikipedia is open. just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Hakan, The definition is fuzzy. I tend to agree with your opinion. However, the border is not clear. Best, Oleg

  • Charlie Stirk

    Hi Jens,
    The ISO standardization process is a formality for most, except for governments that require a certain level of standardization. With the relatively recent establishment of the STEP Modules Resource Library (SMRL), updates to the standards are happening about quarterly, sometimes faster. The schemas are available on sourceforge and the SMRL is available on a CD from ISO. For software implementers, an early version of STEP AP242 with updates to PMI and User Defined Attributes is available to CAX-IF members as are the updated recommended practices.
    Charlie