Unless you lived under the rock for the last few years, you’ve heard words IaaS, PaaS and SaaS at least few times. While IaaS and SaaS are relatively easy to explain, PaaS is one of the most disputed cloud concepts. Many enterprise vendors took PaaS concept to create a strategies of their future cloud platforms. But…. there are some bad news for these companies. After all, PaaS is probably not going to happen.
My conclusion after few years of following the topic was that in many forms PaaS has the same fundamental illness as every complex enterprise software. And PLM system is a great example. The level of complexity is skyrocketing. The amount of commitment and investment in support is gigantic and after all ROI is very questionable. Every PaaS system is a sandbox that provides some additional services, but at the same time limits users in many forms – databases, infrastructures, programming languages, etc.
Will 2017 mark the death of PaaS article brings an interesting set of data points related to development and future trajectories of PaaS services. Here is a great passage that can summarize core problems with PaaS.
Strong tools within IaaS providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure seem to be driving interest in those platforms. While they may have PaaS as part of their platform, most developers opt for the core IaaS services, such as storage and compute platforms. Developers do not like to be placed within a sandbox. Many PaaS providers have restrictions, such as tools, databases, and programming languages, that developers typically don’t like. IaaS seems to be a better fit than PaaS for DevOps organizations, considering that they are able to replicate the platforms of IaaS providers, such as the ones that are on premises as well.
And the core problem of PaaS is complexity.
Also, a dark side of PaaS emerged in 2016. Some consider PaaS too complicated and too limiting for most development efforts, and developers.Most PaaS offerings put the developer into a sandbox, with only the features and functions that the PaaS provider furnishes to build and deploy applications. While this makes development an easy and controlled process, many developers need to gain access to the resources and tools required to support specific features, such as remote and native APIs, as well as middleware and database services.
In many forms PLM (platforms) share the same dark sides of complexity and inefficiency. There are too many limitations and questionable ROI. PLM monolithic platforms can bring a significant value of vertical integration, but at the same time limit manufacturing companies in the way data and process can be managed. Now imagine 2 PLM PaaS platforms running side-by-side in the same company and you will understand why manufacturing business are not jumping ahead to commit to these solutions.
The following picture shows you a typical cloud PLM platform vision. I captured the following picture here on PLM portal.
What is my conclusion? For the last few years, the dream of PLM vendors was to follow the trend of cloud computing and transform existing PLM platforms into cloud PaaS. You can see it in many PLM cloud marketing materials. As it turns out, PaaS as well as PLM platform is a very complex idea. My hunch that PLM PaaS idea will require some redefinition and refresh in current cloud system realities. So, where to start? My hunch that micro-service architecture in cloud applications can be a good starting points. After all, PLM micro-services can kill platform dinosaurs. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.