Will Aras buy a CAD vendor? (future of CAD-less PLM)

Will Aras buy a CAD vendor? (future of CAD-less PLM)

For the last few years, Aras made a story in PLM world. Aras was founded in 2000 and had a turbulent story until coming with the business model of enterprise open source- a mix of free license combined with community building and subscription model. Last week I learned that Aras made it to the top list of Forrester research. See my blog few days ago for more details – What I learned about PLM leaders from Forrester research. Among all companies there, Aras is the only small vendors in billion dollars company club (Autodesk, SAP, Oracle, Siemens, Dassault Systemes and PTC). Regardless on $100 millions entry point published by Forrester, there is a big difference between Aras and all others.

As I expected, the discuss in this post was mostly about Aras. My hunch, not many companies are really interested how many inches up or down are ranked Dassault, Siemens or PTC. The position of Oracle and SAP is clear as well. But Aras is clearly a darling of PLM world made a story. And what is next for Aras is one of the most important question to ask in my view.

Aras is so called “pure PLM” player. For the last few years, this position is almost disappeared from PLM industry landscape. With the exception of very few firms, all pure PLM vendors such as MatrixOne and Agile PLM were acquired by CAD and ERP vendors. So, what will be the trajectory of Aras in the next few years? Will Aras embrace the future using their unique business model, will be acquired by CAD vendor or actually expand into PLM world by acquiring CAD vendor? I’ve got some perspective on this from Joe Barkai commenting online to my blog:

This is a fundamental question: should ARAS add a CAD tool to its portfolio to be more like the “big guys”, or focus on remaining a “pure play” open standards-based PLM? The hopes of CAD companies to force a de-facto standard in a given organization are not any closer to materialize, and heterogeneous CAD (and simulation) environments are here to stay. In my opinion, ARAS is better off investing in supporting new and potentially differentiating engineering and design methods and tools such as MBSE, complex large-scale mechatronic systems, advanced simulation, etc.

A thought: Instead of existing disciplines, e.g. CAD, EDA, which tend to be, and perhaps should be, multi-vendors anyway, I would consider investing in one of the emerging uber-categories: MBSE, IoT, perhaps next-gen requirements management and configuration management, whatever they shape up to be.

A very impressive success of Aras brings the question about future of CAD-less PLM vendors. It was hard to imaging large and successful PDM / PLM player without accomplishing by CAD vendor for the last decade. Is it going change? In my view, this is one of the most fundamental question for CAD / PLM industry. I’m not sure there is no answer on this question, but Aras is clearly a sign of changes in PLM industry and vendors’ landscape.

What is my conclusion? Aras success was build on a combination of free software and subscriptions. At the same time, many other PLM business were acquired and shutdown. Regardless on future trajectory of Aras, it is a confirmation that PLM industry requires rethinking and alternative business models to compete with traditional well-established players.Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

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.

 

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  • marclind

    Oleg – Thanks for your perspective on our unique position. Maybe can add our take on things…

    At this point we don’t see the need to “own” a CAD tool. In fact, we see a heterogeneous future with multi-CAD design environments (MCAD, ECAD… and SW/FW).

    We/Aras believe that design, development, manufacturing and field service are all being transformed simultaneously.

    We describe our focus as being on the “Business of Engineering” meaning the complicated, cross-discipline processes and configuration / change mgt necessary to realize next generation products.

    Our strategy is simple, “Full Lifecycle Digital Thread”

    In fact, this week we’re actually planning our next steps for MBSE, requirements, RFLP, Test Ver/Val, SDM and a range of other topics.

    Our perspective is that true openness – open arch, open data model, open APIs, open source, open stds – wins in tomorrow’s connected products world where machine learning is increasingly introduced. Companies have to have complete & open access to data and APIs in order for AI to work, ya know.

    With all that said, we feel strongly that forward thinking companies are hungry for an alternative PLM value proposition. One designed to enable:

    * extended enterprise processes with tens of thousands of users and petabytes of data

    * true digital twin configuration and digital thread traceability

    * fast, agile deployment whether replacing legacy PDMs or layering our platform over them

    We believe these factors are why we’re now the fastest growing PLM company worldwide.

    And we see a bright future for Aras as an independent company over the next 15 years!

    Hope this helps.

    MarcL
    http://www.aras.com

  • marclind

    Oops, forgot to say that Joe Barkai is right on about our priorities! 🙂

  • beyondplm

    Mark, Thanks for sharing Aras strategy perspective. I agree with everything and most of your predictions. The one I doubt is “Aras as an independent company over the next 15 years”. But if you will do it, Aras will be unique for generations to come. No PLM company did it in the past.

  • beyondplm

    Of course :).

  • marclind

    Well it’s already been 17 years… what’s another 15 🙂

  • Tom Grigas

    I think it is more important for Aras to acquire a Enterprise visualization solution. This would algin with their Enterprise positioning and keep them independent. 3DPDF just does not fill the requirements.

  • beyondplm

    Tom, thanks for your comment! I can see your point. But, visualization is half way up to a full CAD system. Btw, what are main problem points you see with 3DPDF?

  • beyondplm

    I guess, because investors will want their money back. One man told me earlier this week – investors always want to have a return and make a profit. Still Aras can stay independent and that would be really amazing case I wast talking about in my earlier message.

  • marclind

    Tom – Interesting perspective on where Aras could move next. Am curious as well, what issues do you see w/ 3D PDF / PRC?

    Our thinking right now…
    At Aras we have an open strategy for 3D visualization:
    * you can use JT if that’s your preferred format…
    * or can use any of the proprietary formats…
    * or you can use 3D PDF – we just happen to be working with PDF/PRC ourselves for the following reasons…

    We see PDF – and more specifically the underlying PRC format for 3D – as providing accuracy, precision and functionality, as well as, broad coverage (i.e. 3D, 2D, schematics, TIF, Excel, Word, video, etc, etc) and it’s quite versatile for re-purposing / combining. There are a number of examples of this at http://3dpdfconsortium.org/showcase/

    Whereas JT is only 3D mechanical and is not easily combined. In a cross-discipline world JT is like a dead end that doesn’t have coverage of all the other aspects of the product system.

    Of course that’s just our take.

  • marclind

    Absolutely and that’s why we’re building a high growth company that we believe we can take public in the future

  • beyondplm

    Marc, Agree. That would be an absolutely amazing result. Btw, when the last PLM company was taken public?

  • Tom Grigas

    Guys I see 3D PDF as a great low cost way to share the viewable of 3D but little beyond this. Visualization tools allow non-CAD users to leverage design data thru its derived association to CAD into areas like, manufacturing simulation, visual work instructions, publications, even engineering simulation. When visualization is tied to xBoM it is a powerful way to leverage the data created in engineering throughout the enterprise without having to be tied to a single CAD system. This is just my opinion.

  • beyondplm

    Tom, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I can see your point of getting all information via xBOM interface first where data (not visualization) comes first.

  • marclind

    Wasn’t it MatrixOne back in 2000? http://ipo.findthecompany.com/l/35/Matrixone-Inc
    Agile’s IPO was in 1999

  • Phil Spreier

    Interesting points Tom. I would say that today’s 3D PDF is quite a bit more advanced than simple visualization. The 3D PDF Consortium website has some interactive BOM examples that you might find interesting (http://www.3dpdfconsortium.org/project/bom). I think you might be surprised at what is possible using 3D PDF today.

  • beyondplm

    Marc, You’re right – Agile and MatrixOne. 1999/2000. They probably made good money. Do you know any other company that made IPO in PLM?

  • beyondplm

    Phil, thanks for sharing these links! I know some companies developed a whole bunch of apps using 3D PDF. The question if this is still the best “dev environment”? The content inside of 3DPDF is pretty much dead. Isn’t it?

  • Phil Spreier

    I prefer to think of 3D PDF as a final form document (dead has such a negative connotation). It is meant to be viewed, animated, measured, marked up and annotated. The document can be edited (forms, etc) but the 3D model cannot be edited.

    While the content cannot be edited, it is quite interactive. There is a JavaScript API that can be used to interact with the model. For instance, a part number can be selected in a BOM and the model could automatically zoom to the corresponding part. So while the model may be “dead”, the PDF is quite lively 🙂

    Being a final form document is great for a number of different use cases. And it is a huge benefit for records (contracts, TDP, etc) and archives.

  • beyondplm

    That’s an interesting perspective. Not surprised – I’ve seen it in some place. It is “released” envelope for the model including BOM. What will happen with annotation? Should annotation be applied to become changes in BOM / models?

  • Phil Spreier

    Annotations are saved In the PDF file. There is an XML interface for the annotations. (XFDF, current in ISO process).
    Just to be clear, I am referring to comments, notes, text, measurements, etc. that are added after the model is saved as PDF. Sometimes people refer to PMI as annotations as well. PMI is also stored in PDF, but it has a different interface.

  • Phil Spreier

    I think that a better way of saying this might be that the model and the annotations are stored separately in a PDF file. When a PDF is annotated, the model stays unchanged and there are PDF interfaces that allow you to extract the annotations from the PDF. You can then save the annotations to PDM or any other back end that you would like.

  • beyondplm

    Phil, thanks for clarification!

  • beyondplm

    The data flow between PDF and PDM system can be complex. When it goes one way and publish a specific revision, it is simple and has less probably for conflicts. However, when data will start flowing back and forth, conflicts will happen. What if one of sub-assembly changed. Should all PDF “containers” be updated? Is it a reasonable scenario?