Just to think about integrations and PLM can hurt your mind. Integrations are complex and expensive business. It is not unusual to hear from manufacturing companies that they do manual integration between products to avoid unexpected complexity and cost. Usually integration is done as a service project and requires skilled people familiar with PLM products, APIs and variety of other technologies and tools.
Cloud is introducing the new level of challenges in front of manufacturing companies. Modern integration scenarios are breaking corporate walls and exposed into online world. In my earlier article – How PLM can avoid cloud integration spaghetti, I discussed some challenges and potential ways to overcome it.
One of them is the opportunity to leverage Web APIs and automation platforms like IFTTT and Zapier to manage integration between systems. Read more in my PLM and Integration business () article.
It looks like the idea of IFTTT-like integration found few supporters in Autodesk PLM360 team. Earlier this week during PLM360 conference in Boston, Autodesk previewed some of their plans related to new generation of PLM integration. In a presentation made by Jared Sund, Sr. Product Manager for PLM360, Autodesk made a promise to integrate with everything.
The technology behind this promising statement is Jitterbit middleware and so called “evented Web”. The last one is very similar to the approach taken in automating platforms IFTTT and Zapier and relates to Web APIs (reminded me an old article – why PLM vendors need to learn Web API).
The following few slides can show you the presentation of how PLM360 is going to make integration part of their Web interface.
“Evented Web” is a good news for PLM360 customers because it brings much easier way to create integration scenarios. The following slides and video can give you an idea how Autodesk is thinking to make it happen.
The following video shows simple scenario of event driven integration between PLM360 and Salesforce.com.
PLM360 event driven integrations made me think again about PLM integration. I don’t think this approach is a silver bullet to solve all PLM integration problems. In the past, different middleware technologies were created to manage integration (if you’re long enough in the integration domain, you might remember Microsoft Biztalk and IBM WBI products). The challenging aspect of integration is to maintain integrations and apply additional changes when new business requirements come. In addition to that, many event handlers can significantly slow down system, so integration monitoring will be highly demanded tool. So, if you are considering event driven web integrations, think about these questions and make an assessment of the data amount to be transferred.
The selection of tools would be another question. Personally, I love IFTTT and Zapier approach. My question to Autodesk and Jitterbit people is about differentiation between Jitterbit tools and IFTTT-like platforms. What is the advantages to use PM360 and Jitterbit? In case PLM360 is supporting REST API, it can be used with IFTTT or Zapier too. If organization is already using IFTTT for to integrate cloud product, why they will consider to bring Jitterbit platform in addition to IFTTT.
What is my conclusion? Integration problems are painful. The fact PLM360 is focusing on solving integration challenges is a very good news for customers. Web products can provide a new approach to implement integration scenarios and “evented web” is one of them. The cost of implementation and maintenance will be still key factor that will drive customer decision to implement integration and move away from manual re-entering of information between applications. Just my thoughts…