Cloud storage “race to zero” will help to create new type of CAD & PLM solutions

Cloud storage “race to zero” will help to create new type of CAD & PLM solutions

cloud-storage-race-to-zero-cad-plm

Did you pay attention what happened to cloud storage? I’m sure you did. The cost is racing to zero. You can get basically any storage size you want today. Even more, cloud giants like Google and Apple are promoting additional services with unlimited storage capacities.

Cloud giants are building their businesses on top of free cloud storage businesses. The following article by TechCrunch can give you a short explanation about that – The race to zero is awesome. Here is my favorite passage:

In cloud storage, the large players are working to build apps on top of their storage stack, so that they can have a unique value proposition when the price of storage itself finally reaches nil. In cloud computing, it could be that the value add that the large players will use to compete will be their app environment. If you build for, say, Google’s app ecosystem, your cloud compute might be free. If Google’s app ecosystem is the best, you’ll want to work over there, but you wouldn’t if Google didn’t offer competitively priced cloud computing; smaller players could use that to their advantage, and potentially hem in on Google’s business. So compute prices would be pretty uniform across the industry, falling in near unison. That is, of course, precisely what we have seen with cloud storage prices.

You may ask how does it connect to CAD and PLM? Here is the thing- I think there is a disruptive play in creating applications and business models. It will result in changing of fundamental functional and business behaviors. Free storage is convenient – many of us are using free storage to keep our information. It is accessible and reliable. It is getting better in terms of security.

In my earlier article last week, I’ve been talking about “unicorns” – startup companies valued by private investors for $1B and more. Engineering community got its own unicorn – Onshape. The interesting aspect of Onshape is a new business model – you can use Onshape for free if you agree to limit the number of projects to ten (as I’m writing this article, but the original number when Onshape just released their beta was five). Another important aspect of Onshape functionality is product data management. Onshape keeps the history of all updates and allows you to back to any point in a history of your CAD models. In my view, this is an example of how to combine a desired business functionality with free storage.

I can see a direct correlation between cost and new technologies. The scale and ability to grow elastically can be a game changer for CAD and PLM technologies to grow faster and cost less than before. Another place where we can see a significant growth these days is IoT and hardware development. The cost of hardware components is going down. The cost of prototyping using 3D printing and other online services is going down tool. The result – a growing number of hardware companies and manufacturing services. It will demand new type of software tools – cloud, agile and cost-effective.

What is my conclusion? Storage is an essential component in business. In my view, Onshape is just first example in a row of CAD / PLM companies building solutions on top of cloud platforms. Two PLM examples – Autodesk PLM360 and Arena solutions. Both products are only available as cloud SaaS services which allows to optimize it for cloud infrastructure. Free cloud storage can become disruptive platform to build cloud solutions that can grow and adapt elastically to the demand of users. It brings huge potential to develop new solutions we never seen before. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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  • Roman Kligerman

    Oleg,
    What about customization possibility for cloud PLM systems?
    At client server PLM installations administrators/programmers have very wide
    possibility for customization. Most PLM applications are open source and there
    is an access to the code. But everything has cost. Upgrades to new PLM version
    are very painful.
    Do cloud PLM systems allow customization using code change and, if they do, how do
    developers make sure an upgrade will not affect the customized functionality,
    or, in case the customized functionality is included OOTB in the new version,
    how it can replace the customized one?
    Thanks,
    Roman

  • beyondplm

    Roman, thanks for asking – this is a good question. I addressed some of your concerns in my Engineering.com blog – PLM is best hosted, SaaS or on premise. Let’s sort it out… You can take a look here

    http://www.engineering.com/PLMERP/ArticleID/10717/PLM-Is-Best-Hosted-SaaS-or-On-Premise–Lets-Sort-It-Out.aspx

    Not all cloud PLM are equal and PLM vendors are limiting customization for entry level configurations as I can see.

    I’m surprised by your statement – most PLM applications are open source. Where is this information is coming from? As far as I know, the only “partially” open source company is Aras. TeanCenter, Enovia and Windchill are not open source and cannot get an access to the cloud. So , can you share source of your statistics?

    Best, Oleg

  • Roman Kligerman

    Actually I meant open source applications installed on client servers. I write Java code and can change much functionality in Enovia, excepted core functionality and applets. There is very rich API for Enovia v6. I can change GUI as well using JSP editing. Team Center and Winchill should have the similar access to code. I participated in selection process of PLM for my company and we asked about customization level for needed functionality. Both companies answered to some questions that customization level is code change. That is why I concluded that most PLM systems are open source.
    Regards. Roman

  • beyondplm

    Roman, thanks for clarification! In fact, none of PLM products is open source. The exception as I said is Aras Innovator – you can get obtain source code, but it is not available automatically to you. The fact customization is doing in Java or JScript or VBscript (for some old products) doesn’t make it open source.

  • Roman Kligerman

    Oleg,
    I read several articles you recommended to read in your posts. I did not find anything about customization possibility of cloud PLM systems. As I can suppose customization in cloud PLMs will be done using some admin wizards with no access to code. In this case customization level will be much poorer than in existing “on premise” systems (for example DS Enovia v6). On the other hand it will allow developers to update their applications to new versions without failing user customized functionality.
    As I know my company would not accept any of existing PLM
    systems with customization possibility using existing wizards without customization at code level. I am sure today there are many companies with long list of requirements that cannot be satisfied without code customization.
    So I think cloud PLM systems will not replace “on premise”
    systems in the closed future. It may take about 10 years, I suppose, until their customization wizards reach a level, satisfying customers of middle and large businesses.
    But finally future of all enterprise applications is a cloud.
    Regards, Roman

  • beyondplm

    Roman,

    “Cloud PLM” is a very vague term. So, you need to be careful when applying it. There are two major trends in cloud systems – hosted solutions and SaaS applications (usually multi-tenant).

    If you look at hosting options, one of them is just to host existing PLM products using different public and/or private IaaS infrastructure. In that case, you are getting practically the same PLM system with all customization, but running from cloud virtual servers. Same vendors will allow you to use the same software OOTB with limiting ability to customize for lower cost.

    Second option is multi-tenant SaaS PLM applications. I can call two examples – Autodesk PLM360 and Arena. There are ability to configure products. I’m less familiar with Arena, but PLM360 has the ability to make significant data model customization as well as scripting code using Java Scrip. You cannot hack on database level similar how you can do it with on prem PLM. But, I assume you probably cannot hack with SQL into Enovia v6 either because of Enovia architecture (inherited from MatrixOne)

    I think, you are a bit pessimistic about 10 years. But it is possible that some large OEMs will stay with on-prem solutions longer than we want it 🙂

    Best, Oleg

  • Roman Kligerman

    Oleg,
    I meant SaaS PLM applications when I wrote about customization level. I cannot get to database level or change some core functionality in Enovia. I talked about rich Java API allowing deep customization including changing existing functionality above the core one.
    Could you explain me what the usage of Java Script in PLM360
    customization is? Whether it is used as scripting language for queries, admin actions and creating new command using some wizards accepting this script? In this case it is similar to MQL (Matrix Query Language) in Enovia which has much less possibility then Java API.
    Or you mean the trend of enterprise web application developers to use client resources using implantation of some callback functions to client machines (Java Script, Jquery, Ajax). In this case a customer can change some functionality, which can be overwritten by developer during application upgrade / update. That is the main customization problem I see in SaaS PLM applications.
    Regards, Roman

  • beyondplm

    Roman,

    PLM360 as well as other SaaS application usually not allowing to reach database. Btw, Enovia (MatrixOne) is not different, because of its data modeling nature.

    IMO, PLM360 is reasonable flexible for SaaS application. Probably not as flexible as Aras and MatrixOne on prem, but you can customize.

    Take a look here for more information –> http://help.autodesk.com/view/PLM/ENU/

    I’m not sure what do you mean by “change existing functionality above the core”. What is core? What do you want to change and why?

    Thanks, Oleg