What is different in Aras PLM?

What is different in Aras PLM?


Aras Corp is making waves in PLM eco-system. The latest news about addition of Aibus to Aras customer list raised eyebrows and questions among PLM industry pundits. Desktop Engineering magazine created few publications to cover that news. One of them – Aras Innovator Touches Down in Airbus’ PLM Backbone can give you an good summary of why Airbus made such decision.

Airbus got serious about the PLM platform for a number of reasons, among them: its open architecture, its agility for building solutions due to its interactive GUI, and the key criteria — better visibility into total cost of ownership compared to traditional PLM. Airbus has over 2,000 applications in its PLM portfolio and a variety of different platforms to support, which makes for a very complex environment, heavy on customizations.

As part of its unique subscription model, Aras covers all of the work and cost involved in migrating customizations to a new release—a feature that has a huge impact on TCO for PLM, Weimer says. “Upgrading all our customizations can be a very significant cost for us, but because Aras includes it in the subscription, all customizations are carried forward to the next release … and Aras carries the risk and cost of the upgrade,” he says.

What makes that promise possible is the underlying technology in the Aras Innovator platform, notes Marc Lind, Aras senior vice president of marketing. “With our platform, you are modeling as opposed to writing compiled custom code,” he explains. “What that means is that the platform underneath can be upgraded while maintaining the integrity of the models — not just out of the box features, but customizations as well.”

A larger paper by Desktop Engineering – Aras is Making the Case for Resilient PLM. You can download it from Aras website. The paper brings the point of resilient system – the marketing term PLM industry never used before.

DE paper made me think again about the topic of PLM system differentiators. I think, PLM companies are chasing differentiations. Nobody wants to sell “plain bagels” only. In my view, PLM industry has some challenges here. Dig inside of every PLM implementation. You can find it surprisingly similar and it comes down to CAD data management, BOM, portfolio management, product configuration, supply chain and quality. PLM vendors saying that their platforms are different. Different technologies were created in a different time. New user interface is nicer than one that was created 15 years ago. New administration tools are simpler. Cloud was a differentiation factor for some PLM vendors over the past few years, but these days cloud is everywhere. PLM companies are innovating in open source, business models and marketing.

But the devil is clearly in the details. Aras paper made me think about the attempt of trying to compare some of PLM technologies and business model elements. I captured the following picture in DE article. The same picture used as architecture diagram on Aras website. The following link leads to so called “model-driven SOA” approach by Aras.


I can get some color difference between pictures, but I found picture above too simple to exaplain how Aras is really different from other systems. After all, Web server SOA is code, which runs on the server. And what if solution models are presenting some logic? I made an attempt to create more granular comparison below by covering PLM system from technical and business perspective:


You can see several points where Aras is supporting one of possible options available in traditional on premise and cloud PLM systems (marked by orange):

1. Cloud and Hosting: Aras is available from IaaS infrastructure. From earlier announcements, Aras is supporting Microsoft Azure. 2. Operation System: As far as I know, Aras is supporting only Windows platform on a server, which is not unusual. 3. Database: Aras is supporting Microsoft SQL server, which one possible RDBMS supported by traditional PLM systems. 4. Client Applications: Aras is available in browser. IE and FireFox are supported according to last information on Aras website. 5. Releases. Aras is available via major releases and Service Packs.

However, there are 3 points where Aras is different from traditional PLM systems (marked by green). One of them is technical and two additional are business related.

1. Data and object model. Aras is marketing its object model as model-driven SOA. The high level description of this model can be found on Aras website. Although the definition is overloaded with technical jargon, it gives you an impression of something more powerful and open that must insure Aras sustainability for changes in a long run. Hence, this is a point of Aras resilient characteristics.

2. Aras License is free, which is unique in PLM industry. You can compare SaaS subscription to Aras, but there is no way how to get PLM software with zero cost from any other PLM vendors.

3. Upgrades. Typically for PLM on premise software, upgrades are handled by service providers or vendor. Aras is including upgrade support in the cost of subscription. It is somewhat compatible to SaaS- vendor will have to take care of server upgrades, but unique for on premise PLM offerings.

What is my conclusion? Aras stands out by 3 differentiation factors – free licensing, upgrade included in subscription services and technology to define everything in the system using XML-driven language. There is a connection between technical and business factors. According to Aras, model driven SOA gives a unique ability to support lifecycle of Aras implementations and future upgrades. This is a point mentioned by Airbus where Aras is assuming risk to upgrade the system in the future. It is a unique bundle that cannot be found in other systems. The jury is out to check sustainability of Aras model and their ability to support large scale Airbus-like implementations and upgrades. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is my personal opinion. Aras didn’t sponsor this blog post and didn’t influence its content. All information captured from public websites. 


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  • Jens Krueger

    Hi Oleg,
    thank you for this post, I like your approach to break-down the comparison of Aras with “traditional” PLM platforms. Regarding the data / object model, I would claim that there is no real difference: SOA provides services, which rely on a data model and code for the functionality. So, ARAS also has a proprietary data model, and traditional PLM platforms also publish services which can be consumed in a SOA environment.
    Best regards, Jens

  • beyondplm

    Jens, thanks for this comment and clarification. I guess, “Model driven SOA” is also can be defined as a proprietary data model. According to Aras, it creates decomposition between “model of everything” in XML language and product core that runs services using this model. In my view, Aras is walking very fine line of differentiation here… Technologies are important, but only if it can bring functional and economic differentiation. Assuming the same solution can be created by two different data models (Aras and some other vendors). Customer doesn’t care about that. However, if Aras technology can provide better “upgradability” for such solution, it can create a differentiation for customers to run upgrades without additional level of complexity. That’s why I said- jury is out to judge how Aras can support upgrades and maintenance for large customers such as Airbus.

  • Sascha Leidig

    Hi Oleg,
    illuminating post, I also like the detail comparison betw. Aras and typical PLM software which enriches the discussion.Let me add one point to the “Cloud and Hosting” aspect:
    Aras Innovator is now also available as a SaaS solution additionally (IaaS from Microsoft Azure, SaaS from T-Systems).
    Afaik T-Systems offers a “pay per use” pricing model based on the number of Aras users and you need no own infrastructure and no operating team any more.
    Best regards, Sascha

  • beyondplm

    Hi Sascha, thanks for your comment and information sharing. I’ve heard about T-System and Aras partnership about cloud PLM. It is indeed an interesting move, especially for European customers that might have concerns about data center locations. etc. I didn’t find any T-System per-use prices for Aras PLM cloud. Do you have a link that you can share?

  • marclind

    Jens, thanks for making this point. Wanted to clarify a bit. Aras has implemented an extensive out-of-the-box data model. We’ve chosen to use industry standards for it, PMI PIMBOK for project mgt, CMII for configuration & change mgt, ISO for quality, etc, etc, etc.

    What’s important to understand is that unlike DS, Siemens, PTC, etc we’ve chosen to deliver a completely open data model with a published data dictionary. We also do not obfuscate the data – here’s a blog on that topic http://aras.com/plm/003016

    Even more important is that Aras is a dynamic schema. Because of our underlying platform technology, you/anyone is able to customize the out-of-the-box
    data model on the fly without complex programing (no compiling, linking, etc). Data model changes are drag and drop with a graphical editor in the browser.

    All those data model changes, business logic customizations, workflow modifications, etc are not hard coded which means we can upgrade the system
    without impacting your customizations. No matter how crazy you customize the
    data model.

    You can customize as much as you want / need (tons or none) and
    still upgrade. That’s our core technical differentiation.

    Hope this helps.


  • beyondplm

    Marc, thanks for such clarification! it is very helpful and gives a good perspective to readers about Aras’ differentiations. Do you have videos or other resources that can demonstrate Aras data modeling practical use for customization and upgrades? Best, Oleg

  • Sascha

    Hi Oleg,
    thanks for your feedback. You can find some information here: https://servicenet.t-systems.com/t-systems-plm-en/plm-cloud/1373482 .
    I expect prices also to be published on the website soon as well as dates for webinars where you can get deeper insights if interested.
    If I get to know any news on that I will keep you updated.

  • beyondplm

    Hi Sascha, thank you! Please keep me posted.

  • Sascha

    Hi Oleg,
    two ARAS cloud webinars planned in which also price information might be given:
    10th of Sep: http://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1039019/EFCAC6BF800099B9136C8D2EE8E146F4
    30th of Sep: http://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1040220/5ACEC0E74D50FF995CD1AD1F7385279D
    Best regards

  • beyondplm

    Sascha, thanks for updating me! Are those seminars identical? I’d be able to join Sep 30th, but not sure can make Sep 10th. Thanks, Oleg

  • Sascha

    They are identical. Best regards, Sascha

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