Cloud is here. Most industries are not questioning cloud technologies, applications and business models. But, in manufacturing and PLM, the story is a bit different. Earlier this week, I discussed Why big PLM vendors speak about cloud adoption. The conclusion, in a nutshell, is simple. Manufacturing companies are moving their IT and enterprise software assets to the cloud and PLM vendors are trying to figure out what does it mean for their existing applications and business. And there are some mix of good and bad news.
The good news is that large PLM companies are committed to cloud marketing. You can hear and see “cloud PLM” everywhere. The situation was different a few years ago. Autodesk was one of the first large companies that we’re breaking the ice of cloud PLM by announcing PLM360 cloud PLM in 2012. Since that time, PLM companies made a huge step forward in the cloud – you can host PLM systems using IaaS infrastructure. Pretty much every PLM vendor can do it today to get the system run from cloud servers. It is good for 2019 and maybe for 2020. But not much moving forward. Here is why…
Cloud changes everything in the way application and the technology stack is built. It also changes everything in the way companies are delivering software and provide services.
A typical software and tech stack of existing PLM combined from 3 levels: Database and infrastructure; Applications and Implementation. The first one is easy – all existing PLM systems are running on Oracle or MS SQL databases. PLM applications are usually web-based and use multi-tier or web applications by running servers and web clients. The last tier – implementation is usually a service provided by a partner or company itself. Depends on the size of the company it is delivered as a service in a way of installation, configuration, and (if needed) customization. The last can also provide upgrades between versions (not all PLM vendors support it).
A typical cloud technological stack is combined from infrastructure as a service (IaaS), delivery mechanism, data storage, application services (apps) and online experience (eg. billing and support). And it brings fundamental changes in the PLM model I described above. As a cloud service, data is distributed between multiple databases based on the need. The days of the single Oracle database are in the past. If you missed the news about Amazon leaving Oracle, check it out. If you never heard about polyglot persistence, you need to catch up. Business applications are turned into microservices that can scale and run to support all customers in a multi-tenant model, to have high availability and scale globally. Applications are becoming available on all surfaces – desktop, browser, mobile, voice, messaging. And there are two new elements of the solution- DevOps and customer support. These two elements are part of the overall experience. DevOps is responsible to keep an entire service up and running. Support is helping customers live all the time.
The following picture can give you an idea of PLM transformation from traditional PLM stack into a cloud PLM stack.
What is my conclusion? Cloud is transforming business and technology. An entire stack is changing from infrastructure to customer service and support. Data is becoming a center of everything. Application and services are becoming global and available to everyone. A manufacturing business is global and it means that the new PLM stack is turning global as well. Just my thoughts…
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.