Will Aras pave the road to PLM heaven?

Will Aras pave the road to PLM heaven?


I’m following Aras PLM annual event online this week – ACE2015. There is a moderate volume of tweets coming from Detroit. Navigate to the following link to have a look. You can take a look on the agenda here.

For the last few years, Aras is developing as a very interesting story. Do you remember my post back in 2011 – Aras PLM lines up against Windchill, Enovia, and TeamCenter. If you listen to updates coming from Aras, this is actually coming truth and I’ve seen presentations made by few customers explaining how Aras is replacing existing PLM implementations or co-exist with PDM implementations from Enovia, TeamCenter and Windchill.

The following slide caught my attention yesterday. It was part of Sonnax presentation at ACE2015. It gives an interesting definition of PLM nightmare vs. PLM heaven.


PLM Nightmare

Spreadsheets, Workflow software and Activity database. I can see a point of spreadsheets. Especially after my yesterday blog referencing complex automotive configuration environment made of Excel. However, the sense of nightmare with workflow software and activity database was a new thing for me. If I think about each PLM software, workflows and activities is an essential part of every PLM platform. My hunch is that PLM workflows are complicated and hard to implement. And it makes terrible experience for users.

PLM Heaven

Flexible, accessible by all and dollar doable. I found this combination interesting. It clearly shows the level of concern manufacturing companies have with software licenses cost. Flexibility is something that often associated with spreadsheets, but I can see a point of configurable flexible data models. Accessible by all is the most important. And this is, in my view, it is a combination of technology and license cost. Cloud, web and mobile are technologies that can make PLM software accessible. However, it should come in the package with business models allowing to all parties to be connected.

It made me think about accessibility of PLM solution as a key component of a successful PLM software. PLM software must be available to every person in manufacturing companies and connected eco system of suppliers, contractors, service providers and (probably) customers. Without that, PLM will be in a danger to stay a database of engineering change workflow and manage revisions of CAD files.

What is my conclusion? Aras is using tagline “Rethink PLM“. Actually, I like it very much. Coincidentally, I  posted about it – Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what? We can see lot of disruption these days in many industries – communication, transportation, connected devices, home automation, mobility. So, rethinking will be coming to PLM too. But, the meaning of “rethinking” is tricky and should be filled with clear differentiation supported by 10x better technologies, new business models and use experience. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


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  • That is one of the interesting things that I always mention when Aras comes up. With most solutions, you need to justify a large expense before you can start. With Aras, you can try before you buy (and try and never buy, in some applications). This changes the decision-making dynamics and the organization level at which decisions can be made. It is not that the TCO of Aras is always lower; that is yet to be proven. But the curve definitely does not get steep early in the adoption process.

    Stan Przybylinski
    VP of Research
    CIMdata, Inc.

  • MrJones2016

    Hi Oleg, thank you for your frequent posts on current plm topics. I read every one of them very carefully and am always excited when there is a new one.

  • beyondplm

    You’re welcome!

  • beyondplm

    Stan, thanks for emphasizing this point! It is not about lower price, but about taking different ‘sales’ approach which means ZERO upfront cost. Don’t you think SaaS subscriptions can achieve the same dynamics?

  • Yes they can, results to date show that they are in other enterprise domains outside of PLM. And I say that too… 😉

  • beyondplm


    What is the most close example you can compare with PLM SaaS?

    I think, there is a difference between 0$ price (which Aras is using) and lower upfront cost (most of SaaS businesses). During the PLM cloud discussion at COFES last week, we agreed that all SaaS vendors are charging 1-2 years subscription upfront and you can negotiate price. So, even if it is 100$ / month/user, you will pay $240,000 for 2 years for 100 users in your company. And it doesn’t include services.

    Opposite to that you can take basic Aras for free and pay only for implementation services. Yes, some of Aras’ modules such as CAD integrations are available only via subscription.

  • Chris Williams

    There are more cost drivers than just buying the software. For example if you purchase the Aras maintenance (what they call subscription), Aras will do the upgrades. In most implementations the cost to upgrade can be as much as the initial deployment. By doing the upgrade they significantly improve the TCO.

    Another perspective has to do with customizations. The Aras data model does not force complex customizations. With tools like Windchill or Enovia customers need to extend the data model (change the core product), making it hard/costly to upgrade, and changing things requires a formal process of compiling code, testing and deployment. I’ve spoken with multiple Aras customers who have told me the Aras data model is completely flexible. I’ve even seen where a workflow can modify the data model on the fly.

    It seems Aras has taken a very different approach.

  • beyondplm

    Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Indeed, Aras business scheme is innovative and providing customer an upgrade path included in subscription. On the technology side Aras has a very nice object model build on top of relational database (MS SQL). It has limits as any technology, but so far it demonstrated an impressive set of customer and industry implementations.