Top 3 “PLM Cloud” Killers

Top 3 “PLM Cloud” Killers

After talking very positively about PLM and Cloud, it is a time to think about negative sides of the cloud story. Matt Lobard of Dezignstuff came with a following comment on my post yesterday: Cloud may be coming, but it is coming for only a few, and only where it makes the most sense. I still believe customers will dictate the success or failure of the cloud, not vendors. I couldn’t agree more. However, I can see some factors that actually can influence customer’s decision with regards to the future cloud PDM and PLM deployment. So, what are those top 3 PLM Cloud Killers?

#1 Overinflated Expectations

It can be a very dangerous turn, to assume “the cloud” will solve all previous problems. Cloud will never be able to become a “next universal PLM hummer”. Product Lifecycle Management is a set of diverse business strategies processes and applications. To find right projects, processes and problems that can be solved by introducing “cloud solutions” is the right way to go. Don’t try to solve all problems using “cloud buzzword”.

#2 Too little and too late

PDM and PLM weren’t born yesterday. Many solutions were developed over the past 15-20 years. Applying them to the cloud sometime can create an effect of surrealism. The most painful can be to present existing technologies with very slight modifications as a “next big thing” that supposed to change everything. It won’t happen. Customers are able to smell it and discover all these “same eggs, side view” products.

#3 Confusion over the private clouds and data centers

Another problem is when IT presents their cloud centers or private co-located data centers as a cloud. In this case, the potential value of the cloud will be diminished to the very narrow list of advantages. Most of them will be around “cost” structure of the cloud solution. Also, this strategy won’t allow to use the real value of scaling up with the cloud.

What is my conclusion? Cloud has a potential. However, as every new technology (and not only technology) it can be over-hyped and diminished by wrong implementations. It is important for companies experimenting with the cloud technologies not to be trapped into using “the cloud” as a marketing term as well as to apply “old software projects” under a new sauce. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Craig Rode

    Well one thing we know is that PLM in the cloud won’t look like PLM in the datacenter or on the server. That’s probably all we know.
    To begin with, PLM has so many meanings as to make the (phrase? acronym?) almost useless. Are we discussing PDM? BOM management? Requirements management? Workflow?

    To further the confusion “cloud” has almost as many meanings. Private cloud? Public cloud? Software as a Service? Platform as a Service? Infrastructure as a service?

    With so many variables it’s crazy to make any predictions about the future.

    One thing we DO know: Everytime there’s a new technology it’s viewed in terms of old technology (hence the phrase “horseless carriage”) and the eventual uses are not seen right away. When computers where first used to automate business practices like bookkeeping, who imagined solid modeling and CFD? When the internet was first used as a file transfer mechanism, who imagined eBay, Youtube, or Facebook?

    I can imagine many scenarios in which the cloud could impact the face of PLM.

    China and India is where the engineering is going. What if someone created a CAD product in the cloud that could be rented for 10 bucks a month? How much business could be generated? Yeah, it would be slower. It wouldn’t be as fully functional as current offerings. Same stuff we said about SolidWorks when I was at SDRC in 1996. In fact there’s a whole book on that model by Clayton Christensen.

    Not to mention software in the cloud is far harder to pirate.

    What about FEA in the cloud? Why not? Almost infinitely available computing on demand? Hmmm

    Data sharing in a fragmented engineering/supply chain could be addressed using cloud computing.

    There are tons of ideas floating around out there. I have no doubt about the coming impact of cloud computing on PLM, I just don’t know exactly what shape it’ll take.


  • Craig – you are very wise, comes with experience I bet. Which specific Christensen book are you referring too?
    I was at PTC 89-97- and yes we said the same thing about SolidWorks. I just spent 3 years at a large SolidWorks var, and that community is alive and well and thriving! So much 3d cad is still be purchased every month in 2011 – boggles my mind sometimes – low cost and ease of use is a great strategy if you pick the right technology horse to ride. SW picked parametric,featured based, associative; pioneered by PTC, and built an incredible business with low cost- ease of use. Perhaps the cloud will raise the bar, or in this case, lower the barrier to entry. We will see….

  • I think PLM on the cloud is real and happening. The only thing that could be a problem is integration with in-house CAD systems. If both these systems can live in the cloud “together” then it will be the ultimate PLM/PDM cloud offering. I have already seen SolidWorks working towards cloud based products. I dont think it will be too long before this can happen…

  • Craig Rode

    Steve, I’m referring to “The Innovator’s Dilemma” which is a book that anyone in any capacity in technology should read. I read it when it came out in 97 and I ran around SDRC waving it and yelling “Solidworks is a disruptive innovation!” and just like the book predicted, we were unable to sufficiently react.

  • Hemboy

    Oleg – The above article has valid points. However, every coin has two faces and so does cloud PLM also. There is bound to be advantages and disadvantages. According to me, a company trying to appreciate and implement this concept, should invest more time in making this decision properly. They need to weigh pros/cons, advantages/disadvantages and then come to a state where there are more advantages rather than dis-advantages. Yes, there are bound to be dis-advantages as well. But, that does not defeat the whole concept itself.

  • MarcL

    Part of what I think is happening in this debate about Cloud PLM (or CAD on the Cloud for that matter) is that we all seem to be thinking about it as if we’re just moving the same software, use cases, processes, data structures, etc to a new and supposedly better location (Craig pointed this out).

    My sense is that focusing on the ‘deployment scenario’ is a red herring. It’s distracting everyone from the real potential. Personally, I like what Autodesk is doing with the infinite computing and web services offerings. Connecting to cloud services, capacity, data, analytics, etc is much more powerful than re-hosting in a new place IMHO. Peter S at Aras did a good blog on this a while back

    Also, regarding the Public vs Private cloud debate, there’s a pretty good post in Infoworld today by David Linthicum on this topic


  • beyondplm

    Craig, thanks for your insight! I agree- multiple scenarios are possible. Some of them are in focus of major vendors today. Others can be un-predicated (like your example with 10$ CAD rent from Indian vendor). Private/Public cloud confusion is another aspect. In my view, cloud adoption won’t be broader in a single day- it will be long way. New services will be introduced and companies will move towards them. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Steve, In my view, you are right on the spot. Cloud lower the barrier and create additional opportunities. Similar to what Windows created for SolidWorks. Thanks for you comments! Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Satish, thanks for the comment! I think, SolidWorks did a small step forward with n!Fuze. They pushed towards the cloud in 2010 SWW, but pull it back earlier this year. n!Fuze is a re-make of existing product hosted using Enovia V6 ( This is an interesting approach. Let’s see how it will ramp-up on the customer side. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Hemboy, there are always pros and cons. Sometimes not taking a decision is even worse than to take a wrong one. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Marc, thanks for your comment and information sharing. I agree, we need to stop “re-invent” existing things on cloud. The new “cloud services” will be different from how today CAD/PLM systems looks like (famous horseless carriage is the best example here). Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg