Aras is one of the companies I’m continuously following for quite a while. Alongside interesting architecture, Aras is also innovative in introducing a variety of innovative business and application models. One of them is open source, which was a pivot Aras made in 2007.
Aras Corporation is an American developer and publisher of product development software, Aras Innovator. The product is used for product lifecycle management (PLM) and other purposes. Since 2007, Aras has been providing Aras Innovator for free as open-source software, with Aras Corp providing technical support, software updates, and other consulting as a subscription service.
While a traditional assumption of “open source” is to open the source code of the application, Aras introduced a new approach – enterprise open source. Here is a definition of enterprise open source. Here is a definition I took from Aras FAQ website.
Enterprise Open Source is a way for businesses to use supported software with all the collaborative benefits of a community and a for-profit company standing behind it and advancing it. Global organizations get the freedom and flexibility they want with the control and security they require. Aras is the only PLM software company with a solution suite that’s powered by an advanced model-based service-oriented architecture (model-based SOA). We are also the only PLM software provider to offer a subscription package that includes all upgrades & upgrade services. Last, but certainly not least, no one else offers an enterprise open source business model. This is important because it eliminates PLM license fees.
The last time I checked Aras was available for free downloading via this link. But it is hard to find what parts of Aras functions are available for free and what features require subscription (if you have the link explaining it, please share).
I noticed that Aras is gravitating from open source to just a definition of itself as an open system with open architecture. Check out this link – Aras Open Architecture.
The unique open architecture of the Aras Platform connects to authoring tools and enterprise systems allowing distributed teams to collaborate across the entire product lifecycle. The openness of the environment supports data sharing across systems, providing critical capabilities necessary for digital transformation efforts.
The PLM industry is moving to the cloud and SaaS these days. I was asking myself what is Aras strategy for cloud and SaaS. Aras architecture described as open exclusively relies on Microsoft platforms including Microsoft infrastructure and SQL Server. Check more information here.
Aras Innovator requires a server running MS Windows Server 2008 R2 or higher with Internet Information Server (IIS), .NET 4.5.2 or higher, and MS SQL server. For more details please refer to the platform specification. Realistically, it’s going to take some work because it is very tricky to get a PC to act as both a client and a server. If you’re determined to do it you’ll need to get IIS Web Server, .NET, and SQL Server running on the PC. Keep in mind this is not a supported Microsoft configuration. In fact, the Windows and .NET security models make it quite difficult to get IIS Web Server and SQL Server running properly. We highly recommend you evaluate Aras PLM on a Windows Server machine, after all, that’s how it’s designed to run.
What about Aras and Cloud? In the recent CIMdata interview, Aras VP Product Market Mark Reisig explained Aras strategy. What I learned is that SaaS covers a broad spectrum of things such as business model, subscriptions. The most interesting thing I found is about Enterprise SaaS.
The third option is our Aras Enterprise SaaS offering. With SaaS, subscribers receive the same Aras Innovator platform and capabilities that are delivered with an on-premise deployment. This means unlimited customization, guaranteed upgrades, including all customization, 7×24 support, and unlimited training. The SaaS option includes managed services of the Aras Innovator environment, from establishing the customer’s dedicated cloud to the day-to-day operations all delivered by Aras’ Global Cloud Services team
What is my conclusion?
Aras trajectory in PLM development is very interesting. One of the unique things in Aras is a single platform foundation Aras has developed for the last 21 years. Which makes one of the longest mature developed PLM platforms that was not influenced by any acquisitions. Aras business model evolved and expanded from enterprise open source to current enterprise SaaS. Aras is not speaking much about specific Aras SaaS technologies and data architecture as well as what modern SaaS tools and architecture Aras is using. It will be interesting to see how Aras is going to compete with major PLM software providers actively looking into how to develop and to extend into SaaS platforms. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.