I’d like to continue my discussion about multi-CAD and PDM started few weeks ago. If you want to catch up on my earlier posts about the same topic, please navigate to the following link to read my previous post – The Anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM integrations. Some other articles you might be interested to read – Autodesk, Vault and Multi-CAD and Multi-CAD and PDM: Dead Lock? The story of Multi-CAD and PDM is not new and complex. It mixes multiple topics – product complexity, customer environment complexity, software vendors business strategy, development complexity and many others. The solution to solve MultiCAD / PDM integration requires software vendor commitment to openness in general and to open APIs specifically. Here is the conclusion I made in my last post:
Let’s face the reality, because of the absolute importance, companies [ software vendors ] easy can get provoked to use it as a competitive advantage. In addition to “openness” in general, the ultimate way to solve this problem is Open API. I believe Open APIs is the most important strategic factor for companies to be competitive in the future.
Today I want to continue my Multi-CAD / PDM discussion and propose possible alternatives for MultiCAD / PDM integration strategy. I can see three possible options: Multi-CAD PDM, Multi-PDM CAD, CAD-PDM bundle. Let me put some analyzes below.
This is a traditional option used today by most of the vendors. The integration plug-ins need to be developed between PDM and multiple CAD systems. In that configuration, PDM normally provide an integration framework – environment that allows CAD systems to interplay with PDM environment. Some CAD operations are replaced with PDM operations – Open / Save. Additional operations added by PDM environment in order to manage changes of files and access specific PDM functions. The main assumption of this approach is that it reflects the situation majority customers have- single PDM system and multiple CAD systems.
This is an option that became more popular for last 3-4 years. Because of CAD/PDM integration complexity and high demand for vertical integration, software vendors are trying to solve this problem for their own CAD and PDM systems. As a result, stable bundles became more popular. It solves the problem CAD-PDM version compatibility, updates as well as functional richness. These are most popular bundles – Inventor / Autodesk Vault, SolidWorks / EPDM, SolidEgde (NX) / TeamCenter, CATIA / Enovia, Creo-Parametric / Windchill. The high-end systems like CATIA, NX and Creo-Parametric becomes even more complex. CATIA was the first system that requires Enovia functionality and cannot work without data management backend.
This is an interesting option, in my view. The idea behind is that CAD system openness and Open API will be available ad-hoc to integrate with any PDM system. Sounds like a dream? Maybe… Nevertheless, I believe this is one of the forthcoming ways to create a stable integration. With the future migration of CAD systems to cloud, CAD API will move to web infrastructure, which can be used to higher standardization of integration mechanisms.
What is my conclusion? In order to solve CAD / PDM integration complexity we need to move towards higher level of decoupling and openness. It includes open API and standard protocols. Smart vendors will be moving towards this direction. It will simplify system usage from end-user standpoint as well as from the side of system administration and updates. Just my thoughts… What is your take?