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Open Source

What will change existing PLM paradigms?

by Oleg on February 26, 2015 · 1 comment

It is not uncommon to hear about “changing paradigms” in different domains these days. We are watching Netflix and disconnecting cable TVs, using Uber instead of driving our own cars. Yesterday at PI Congress, I saw the following slide demonstrating examples of digital disruption in different industry domains.

digital-disruption-pressure

Which obviously made me think about disruption in PLM. This domain has some characteristics that make it hard to disrupt. 1 / It is dominated by a small number of very well established vendors. 2/ The barrier to entry the space is high in terms of expertise and completeness of the solution. 3/ Decision lifecycle for customers to buy a software is long and the usage lifecycle is even longer. Companies can use software for 10-15 years because of product lifecycle (eg. aero-planes). As a result of that, one of the main drivers to change PLM system is in fact because existing PLM software will no longer developed or supported by PLM vendor.

For the last decade, we’ve seen very few example of starting a fresh new paradigm in PLM system. Aras Corp came with enterprise open source Aras Innovator. It was a cool idea – think about “Linux of PLM”. It would be interesting to see how much focus Aras will put in their open source in the future.

Another fresh start was Autodesk PLM360, which introduced “cloud PLM alternative”. Even ideas of “cloud” or “hosting” aren’t new and some vendors in PLM space did it before, entrance of such a big vendor like Autodesk in this domain made a change in the industry. 3 years later, we can see all PLM vendors have “cloud” in their portfolios.

There is one thing that didn’t change in PLM and this is very painful thing. You cannot just install and start using PLM like email. In the world of PLM it called “implementation”. You need to figure out how PLM products will help to organization to use it for their product development processes. And this is all about people. Technologies are easy, but people are really hard. Therefore, in my view, PLM got stuck with people. The current paradigm assumes PLM implementation as a core fundamental part of everything. It slows down adoption and requires extensive resources and effort from organization. How to change that?

Have you heard about DevOps? If not, I recommend you to put aside whatever you do and close this educational gap. It is well known in software development and it is essentially a combination of two terms – “development” and “operations”. It became popular and it is a result of massive introduction of new software development practices combined with cloud operations. Few months ago, I mentioned devops in my post – Why to ask your cloud PLM vendor about devops and kubernetes? Business insider article Today’s IT department is in fight for its life helped me to bring my thoughts to clarity. Here is my favorite passage.

Devops is all about how do things faster,” Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst tells Business Insider. It’s the IT department’s version of Facebook’s famous mantra “go fast and break stuff.”  IT departments say they had better figure out how to be faster, cheaper, and better. If they don’t, the company’s employees will no longer depend on them. They bring their own PCs, tablets and phones to work and they buy whatever cloud services they want to do their jobs. And the CIO will find his budget increasingly shifted to other manager’s pockets.

“Like the manufacturers were in the 1970s and 1980s were fighting for their lives, today’s IT departments are going to fight for their survival,” Whitehurst says. Traditional IT departments are slow and methodical. Rule no. 1 was to never bring the systems down. They would take months, even years, to roll out new new software, testing everything carefully, often spending millions in the process. Devops eliminates that. Instead, IT departments tear their projects apart into teeny components that can be implemented in tiny changes every day.

The last phrase is a key one. How to tear projects apart into teeny components to be implemented in tiny changes. It made me think about existing PLM implementation paradigm.  It heavily relies on long planning cycle and business department alignment. Once this planning made, implementation takes long time and put ROI in absolutely wrong place from what organizations are demanding it to be.

So, how PLM can adopt new way to do things? It requires 3 main changes – 1/ To change state of mind. Don’t think “one big implementation”. Opposite to that, think about small steps that will make business better, faster, efficient. 2/ To bring new PLM biz development tools that can help organizations to plan into small steps. 3/ To make PLM platform capable to function in Devops mode. It  requires new type of data modeling, deployment and monitoring tools.

More to come, but I think, Devops ideas can inspire and educate PLM developers to think differently. How to develop PLM practices in a different way. How to bring a new feature in a day and how to test changes for the next hour. These are questions PLM business consulting, developers and business consulting should ask about.

how-to-change-plm-paradigm-with-devops

What is my conclusion? Changing paradigms is hard. For many years, PLM industry fundamental paradigm was to relies on implementation as adoption process of PLM technologies. It started from selling PLM toolkits that required long implementation. PLM vendors tried (still do) out of the box approach, which mostly ended up as a good marketing to demonstrated capabilities of PLM technologies, but required implementation anyway. Cloud approach cut the need for expensive IT involvement, but still requires implementation process. PLM industry needs to find a way to make PLM implementation simpler and easier, so people will stop thinking about PLM implementations as a mess. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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plm-for-open-source-hardware

We live in the era of changes. Think about the impact open source software (OSS) made on the software industry for the last 10-15 years. Many things we are using on daily basis today became enabled by open source software. Now, take a deep breath. The story of open source will repeat again, but with hardware. If you haven’t heard about “open source hardware” yet, it is a time for a crash course. Wikipedia article gives you the following definition:

Open-source hardware consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered by the open design movement. Both free and open-source software(FOSS) as well as open-source hardware is created by this open-source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bills of material, PCB layout data, HDLsource code and integrated circuit layout data), in addition to the software that drives the hardware, are all released with the FOSS approach

There are many examples of open hardware today. You can see a list here. It is fascinating an exposure of open source hardware in so many domains. There are many examples today. I wanted to bring one from automotive industry – OpenXC platform. In a nutshell, this is an API for your car to develop vehicle-aware applications.

OpenXC is a combination of open source hardware and software that lets you extend your vehicle with custom applications and pluggable modules. It uses standard, well-known tools to open up a wealth of data from the vehicle to developers. OpenXC is an API to your car – by installing a small hardware module to read and translate metrics from a car’s internal network, the data becomes accessible from most Android applications using the OpenXC library. You can start making vehicle-aware applications that have better interfaces based on context, can minimize distraction while driving, are integrated with other connected services, and can offer you more insight into your car’s operation.

The following video shows an example how OpenXC is used to develop an interesting version of vibrating shift knob.

Reading more about open hardware made me think about software tools used for the development of hardware platforms. It came to me as a comparison to the open source tools for software development. The large amount of software development tools we use today became available only because of open source.

So, here is a question – what tools are used today and will be used tomorrow for development and product lifecycle of open hardware platform? GitHub is widely used today to store data for software, firmware, specifications. The tools for mechanical design are separate. It seems to me a lot of siloed information is distributed between developers, contributors and consumers of open hardware platform – specification, bill of materials, production instructions, quality and testing procedures, etc. What tools can be used to manage this information? The future development of hardware platforms, interfaces and tools will create a demand for product lfiecyclce tools that can be shared and used by the community.

What is my conclusion? Open source hardware is a potentially big thing that can change the existing landscape of manufacturing as we know now. Companies are changing their perspective on IP management and looking how to innovate using open source platforms. It is already happening in many domains and open hardware can become the next big thing here. What software will help to manage open hardware lifecycle? In my view, this questions remains open. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit Wikipedia article

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smart-products-bom

We live in the era of smart products. Modern smartphones is a good confirmation to that. The average person today keeps in his pocket a computer with computational capability equal or even more than computer that aerospace and defense industry used for navigation. In addition to that, you smartphone has communication capability (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) which makes it even more powerful. If you think about cost and availability of boards like raspberry pi and Arduino, you can understand why and how it revolutionize many products these days. Although, wide spread of these devices has drawbacks.

Smart products are bringing a new level of complexity everywhere. It starts from  engineering and manufacturing where you need to deal with complex multidisciplinary issues related to combination of mechanical, electronic and software pieces. The last one is a critical addition to product information. Bill of materials has to cover not only mechanical and electronic parts, but also software elements.

Another aspect is related to operation of all smart products. Because of connectivity aspects of products, the operation is required to deal with software, data and other elements that can easy turn your manufacturing company into web operational facility with servers, databases, etc.

As soon as devices are exposed to software, the problem of software component traceability is getting critical. Configuration management and updates is a starting point. But, it quickly coming down to security, which is very critical today.

GCN article – How secure are your open-source based systems?  speaks about problem of security in open source software. Here is my favorite passage:

According to Gartner, 95 percent of all mainstream IT organizations will leverage some element of open source software – directly or indirectly – within their mission-critical IT systems in 2015. And in an analysis of more than 5,300 enterprise applications uploaded to its platform in the fall of 2014, Veracode, a security firm that runs a cloud-based vulnerability scanning service, found that third-party components introduce an average of 24 known vulnerabilities into each web application.

To address this escalating risk in the software supply chain, industry groups such as The Open Web Application Security Project, PCI Security Standards Council and Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center now require explicit policies and controls to govern the use of components.

Smart products are also leveraging open source software. The security of connected devices and smart product is a serious problem to handle. Which brings me to think about how hardware manufacturing companies can trace software elements and protect their products from a potential vulnerability.

What is my conclusion? To cover all aspects of product information including software becomes absolutely important. For many manufacturing companies the information about mechanical, electronic and software components is siloed in different data management systems. In my 2015 PLM trends article, I mentioned the importance of new tools capable to manage multidisciplinary product information. Software BOM security is just one example of the trend. The demand to provide systems able to handle all aspect of product BOM is increasing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: JulianBleecker via photopin cc

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Why PLM stuck to provide solutions for SME?

April 21, 2014

PLM is in the focus on many companies these days. Questions how to improve processes, optimize cost and improve quality are important and PLM vendors are laser focus on that. But… with one small clarification . It works for large manufacturing companies. To transform business processes is the way PLM succeeded to deliver ROI and […]

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PLM Open Source Future – Cloud Services?

February 17, 2014

For the last few years, open source was one of the major disruptive factor in tech. Open source powers world’s leading tech companies. Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and many others would not exist without open source. The success of RedHat put a very optimistic business projection on the future disruption of industry by […]

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PLM Software and Open Source Contribution

February 11, 2014

Open source is a topic that raised many controversy in the last decade. Especially if you speak about enterprise software. The trajectory of open source software moved from absolute prohibition to high level of popularization. In my view, the situation is interesting in the context of PLM software. The specific characteristic of PLM is related […]

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Will Open Source Databases Make PLM Affordable?

November 7, 2013

Budget and cost. These are important elements of every IT solution. PLM is not an exclusion from this list. There are lots of debates about PLM systems cost lately. Few days ago, I was discussing one element of PLM system total cost of ownership related to “up-front cost” – The Future battle of PLM upfront […]

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GrabCAD and Open Engineering Source: Dream or Reality?

September 8, 2013

Everybody knows about open source software (OSS). The model of OSS skyrocketed for the last decade and made lots projects on the web very successful. The evolution of open source wasn’t simple. It evolved from just making software source code available to quite complicated system of open software licensing. Open source inspired lots of new initiatives. One […]

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Will New Jazz Product Development Model work for PLM?

April 13, 2013

The world around us is changing much faster these days. It happens in many places. Business environment are much more dynamic. New technologies are disrupting existing industries and eco-systems. PLM systems were developed to help companies to manage and follow product development processes in the companies and extended eco-system. As businesses are going through the changes, […]

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PLM Cloud and Open Source Coopetition

March 25, 2013

I want to continue the theme of disruption started in my post last week. I can see two major forces that will disrupt traditional PLM approach nowadays - cloud and open source. Both have some strong position points and some weaknesses. I put some of my thoughts about cloud and open source disruption last year – PLM […]

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