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Manufacturing companies are owning large volumes of engineering data in CAD files, PDF and other formats derivatives from design. One of the questions IT in manufacturing companies is asking is how to store and manage all engineering files – CAD, PDF, etc. For many years, PDM (product data management) system was a simple answer. It is still the simplest and most straightforward option. Just buy PDM system from the same vendor you’re buying CAD system. However, most of these systems were developed a decade ago before globalization became a reality of every single organization.
Cloud storage business was initially focused on consumer market helping to store photos and other documents. Today it is coming to manufacturing organization. One of the companies operating in this domain is Box. I’ve been following what Box is doing for the last few years. Take a look on some of my earlier posts – Can Box become a platform for PLM? and How Box will compete with PLM vendors?
Yesterday, my attention was caught by TechCrunch article – New Box product will let you choose storage from IBM and AWS. Cloud companies are facing significant amount of regulation complexity related to local country policies. In many countries, local laws are restricting cloud software providers to keep data inside of country.
Box seems to me on target to provide a solution to comply with local regulations by introducing Box Zones. Here is the passage from TechCrunch article:
Box announced Box Zones today, a product that lets customers choose a storage component from another vendor, enabling customers to store files in-country when their privacy laws require it.
Box is actually announcing the product today, while rolling out a Beta in May. Initially it will work on Amazon Web Services in Ireland, Germany, Japan and Singapore, but the plan is to expand that over time adding new zones using IBM data centers later this year. Eventually Box hopes to make it flexible enough to add any approved storage you like.
The product will allow customers in Asia, the Middle East and Europe with legal and regulatory requirements to store their content in-country using third-party storage, and still use the Box service and everything else it brings to the table.
The article made me think, Box Zones can unlock some potential for global manufacturing firm to store product data in a way of CAD, PDF and other drawings in the cloud and complying with local regulations. It won’t replace PDM systems, but for most of companies these systems are mostly managing WIP (work in progress) engineering information. After engineering is done, many companies are moving CAD and related engineering data to other content management systems. Microsoft SharePoint is one of them. Box is clearly competing in this category. The integration between PDM systems and Box can be a solution to implement release processes and to make engineering information closer to all other departments in the company.
What is my conclusion? Few years ago, global manufacturing companies were not ready to move to cloud infrastructure. Not anymore. The situation is changed. Cloud is slowly but surely grows to become an infrastructure for manufacturing companies by answering on important requirements of data governance and regulation. Box Zones is a good demonstration of such steps. It seems like Box is supporting startup companies to develop solutions on top of their platforms. Read more here – $40M fund to support startups on Box platform. It might be an opportunity for manufacturing focused entrepreneurs. Just my thoughts…