Future PLM face to face: Open Source vs. Cloud

I was thinking about future options for PLM in today’s computing environment. In this fast moving world, there are two spaces that not widely experienced by the creators of PLM software. I’m referring to (1) Open Source; (2) Cloud Services. Using some legendary analogies, I can align each of these options as the role of David in his fight against Goliath. Both of them can be considered definitely as weak characters facing  enterprise giants. The PLM community has two clear representatives of both OSS and On-Demand options (Aras and Arena Solutions). So, I want to analyze and discuss – from your standpoint, what is the more appropriate option for the future of PLM?

Cloud Software and Services

In my view, cloud computing definitely shows a very promising future as a software model. Providers of cloud software can provide two big advantages – work better at a lower cost. At the same time, potential users of clouds have consistent concerns such as lack of control, security and, lack of flexibility, the latter being of particular concern for PLM. Still, time is still needed to create established communities around the upcoming cloud services and platforms. These will include infrastructure, management, research and development. Some of them are showing progress but they are very far from being mature. Future investment in cloud data centers can make this faster. In the PLM eco-system, the only company that has created a long-running Cloud-based offering is Arena Solution. However, in my view, they haven’t developed a real economy of scale on the cloud. Together with traditional security concerns and the significant lack of integration with existing enterprise and design software, Arena wasn’t able to scale up and compete with existing PLM kings, in my view.

Open Source

I already discussed Open Source Software for PLM in one of my previous posts < Open Source: Is the Game Changing for PLM? >. Open Source can provide two major advantages for PLM implementation compared to what we have today in PLM – a low entry cost and significant flexibility. These advantages need to address the regular concerns of enterprises in front of open source software such as certification, legal issues etc.  Therefore, I see Aras’s experience in open source as something very interesting, and it requires future investigation and learning.

Alternative Combination: Open Source on Cloud

Of course, this discussion is not complete without discussing the combination of Open Source and Clouds (with Open Source running on a Cloud). I have to say that today’s cloud services software, especially in the consumer domain, is pretty much based on OSS.   The so- called “LAMP stack” is one of the most used combination of open source infrastructure. What will happen in the future when enterprise PLM providers (ERP and dedicated PLM vendors) start moving towards one of these options? This is still not clear.

So, I’m very interested to hear your voices. Pros and Cons? What is your winning option?


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