Upgrades are painful. Everyone in enterprise business knows that. If you are using multiple enterprise systems, ongoing upgrades can become a major IT activity for long time, will take resources and money. Usually, it involves updates of software, updates of customization and additional related application and data.
The problem of updates is not unique for manufacturing world. Different vendors are facing this problem coming from different perspective. Venturebit article last month shows the same problem in Android and Apple market. Navigate to the following link to read – Apple finally charts iOS fragmentation, and it puts Android to shame. The picture below is self explaining. Here is my favorite quote:
Very little of this should be surprising if you’ve paid attention to the world of Android updates. The operating system is notorious for being home to countless devices with varying degrees of support from manufacturers and carriers, which don’t have the biggest incentive to offer timely updates. While Google does a good job of keeping its Nexus devices updated, the chart above shows that most Android devices are still languishing the past. And that hurts the platform as whole.
In CAD, PDM and PLM world, most of the updates are driven by versions of CAD systems and new functionality. Information about diversity of software versions is not available in public. I tried to find this information for TeamCenter, Windchill, Envoia, but failed to find public references. The information about versions of CAD, PDM and PLM software is not exposed outside. Usually, customers prefer to follow newer CAD versions. It triggers a massive chain of events that will require to update other software as well. The updates of PDM/PLM systems are expensive, since it requires company to invest in re-implementation, adjustments and training.
I’d like to make a parallel with Apple and Android market. Obviously, vendors are interested in alignment of customers to their last versions. My hunch is that vendors are not very much interested to add migration costs to the cost of implementations and upgrades. Also, in many cases, implementations are so complicated that work cannot be done with customers.
Future cloud models can change dynamics of the software upgrades. Modern multi-tenant models can change the fundamental cost structure for software vendors. Usage of single software version in production will drive the incentive of vendors to pursue support for upgrades and migration of customization.
What is my conclusion? Cloud is not only about how to move a data server from your IT basement to hosted location. It is about fundamental change in how software vendors will provide services and support customers. Incentives of vendors and interests of customers will be co-planar now. Structural cost changes of multi-tenant cloud deployment will make make it financially possible. Just my thoughts…