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…
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.