PLM and Open Source Big Games

I have been paying more attention to open source last time. What I wanted to analyze is how Open Source will influence future enterprise software landscape and what does it means for Product Lifecycle Management software. Open Source never been on the simple track in the enterprise organization. So, I’d like to put some of my analyzes towards trying to understand if future of PLM can gain some competitive analyzes from Open Source projects.

Big Player and Changes

The original open source invention contradicted lots of established rules in the enterprise software, mixed usage of FOSS software and components faced significant legal challenges. In addition, the valuation and other business characteristics of open source companies challenged lots of analysts and raised many discussions. However, I can see some significant changes for the last couple of years. Growth as community based development, FOOS started to leverage alternative sources of revenues. You can take a look on the following article by CNET from the last year, Open-source M&A: The scorecard to date” mentioned some interesting numbers related to OSS dividends.

Another article: How many billions is open-source software worth? by Computerworld also last year  estimations and some estimation numbers about OSS industry worth. What is about $387B? Sounds big? This is the number BlackDuck Software, Boston based firm came up. The following part is especially interesting:

That’s the number that Black Duck Software came up with. Black Duck isn’t an open-source ISV (independent software vendor). The Boston area company started as an IP (intellectual property) risk management and mitigation company, but has since grown into an open-source legal management firm. Since Black Duck was founded in 2002, the company has been tracking all known open source on the Internet According to their research, there are over 200,000 open-source projects representing over 4.9 billion lines of code. To create that code from scratch, Black Duck estimates that “reproducing this OSS would cost $387 billion and would take 2.1 million people-years of development.”

Open Monetizing Source Trajectories

Another interesting article with a catch’y name: “Has Oracle Been a Disaster for Sun’s Open Source?” Worth read. I recommend you to have a look. Oracle becomes a provide of Open Source Software. However, the Open Source trajectories inside of Oracle are not very happy. It is still not clear how OSS software will be integrated, developed and promoted by such a business community as Oracle.

The problem is that Oracle is naturally trying to optimize its acquisition of Sun for its own shareholders, but seems to have forgotten that there are other stakeholders too: the larger open source communities that have formed around the code. That may make sense in the short term, but is undoubtedly fatal in the long term: free software cannot continue to grow and thrive without an engaged community.

In addition, I can see additional trials to monetize existing open source projects. I got an invitation to the conference “Lucene Revolution” by company name Lucid Imagination that will happen in Boston in October this year. Lucene is a well known Open Source search platform. Lucid is trying to play a “Red Hat” search game, which can be an interesting monetizing strategy for established OSS brands.

PLM and Open Source

If we’ll take a look on PLM Open Source land, we can see Aras is pushing OSS trends forward. I think, it is getting more traction and interests. However, I see Aras’ activity as somewhat not balanced in the following two areas: 1/ development of the communities; 2/ leveraging existing OSS software stack. Probably, Aras’ roots and relationships with Microsoft put some restriction on their OSS-related positioning. Despite these two concerns, I can see a significant interest from customer side to what Aras is doing in Open Source PLM.

What is my conclusion? Customers in engineering and manufacturing organizations are looking for changes in enterprise software. FOSS is one of the potential directions to make it happen. Usage of OSS can save cost and therefore, provide benefits to end users. With lower cost base, enterprise vendors can be innovative in the development of new business models which, in the end, also benefit end users. As I had chance to mention before, community development, cross-usage of existing OSS platforms and tools can be very interesting.

Best, Oleg


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  • Oleg,
    Interesting article. Open Source has always been of great interest to us. We have developed a lot of our technology on Open Source Platforms. I think your point about Aras is dead on. They are not really open source given their reliance on Microsoft. I think this definitely hinders the traditional momentum of an open source solution for PLM. For Aras I am not sure that really matters but it seems like for them it is more of a gimmick than a really impactful element of their product. If they deliver a quality solution for a good price then ultimately they will succeeed open source or not.

  • @Stephen – Thanks for the vote of confidence. Delivering innovative, high quality PLM software is certainly something we take pride in doing at Aras.

    Your statement about open source is a bit confusing however, “…not really open source given their reliance on Microsoft” By this logic none of the 16k+ projects on would qualify as ‘real’ open source… wondering if oss projects at would qualify? (they require the IBM’s proprietary stack)

    To us open source is not about a specific technology, it’s about putting companies in control of their own destiny. By providing open source PLM solutions, we are enabling businesses to access ALL their data and giving them the flexibility to use our prepackaged PLM solutions or modify, extend, integrate as needed to support specific competitive practices.

    No lock-in, no “sorry you can’t do that”, no forced upgrades – Corporate users determine their level of utilization and are always in complete control.

    That also extends to their involvement and participation in the open community; if interested, great! If not, that’s fine too (there’s no requirement to contribute in any way).

    Also, in the world of PLM business solutions, our perspective is that it’s not about ideology or ‘writing code’ / complex IT app dev. It’s about industry best practice and working with business processes. That’s why we have made our advanced PLM solutions (i.e. Aras) as simple as possible to work with (and why MS technologies make sense). With that thought process / goal, we are dedicated to empowering global businesses to achieve enterprise-wide PLM.

    Hope this helps clarify.


  • @Oleg – Great post. Think as you continue to explore you’ll find that these are divergent vectors (1/ development of the communities; 2/ leveraging existing OSS software stack).

    Our perspective is that PLM needs to be ‘accessible’ to everyone, not just those with computer science degrees. Problem is that oss stack requires skill sets that not many engineers, purchasing agents, quality managers or supply chain professionals have. Even a lot of IT professionals don’t know LAMP, Spring, PostgreSQL, JBoss, and other open source technologies.

    In order to build the largest possible PLM community, we believe you have to remove the complexity. The system must be extremely powerful and capable of running the most demanding enterprise PLM workloads, yet simple enough for everyday power users to configure and run.

    We believe that we’re on our way to accomplishing this objective; sales up 200%+ this year (so far), downloads, corporate participation, solution contributions, etc – everything / every metric is up substantially. However, we recognize that we have a way to go to fundamentally transform PLM.

    Our way of thinking goes;
    * make the world’s most powerful PLM solutions also the easiest to use / learn / work with
    * and make them freely available as open source (which also gets rid of all PLM license exps so they are more economical and can be validated in the enterprise without any risk)
    * and make them completely open to enable PLM best practices sharing

    The result of these actions is to put global companies back in control by releasing the shackles of PLM lock-in and complexity, build a true corporate community where PLM process innovation occurs, and build a high growth enterprise PLM business in the process.

    Hard for me to understand how using Linux, Ruby on Rails and Pentaho would help build PLM community, what’s your take?



  • In line with the ‘making the powerful PLM solutions dramatically easier’ might be interested in today’s announcement:

    “Aras vault replication establishes a new level of fault tolerance, system configurability and end user simplicity in PLM industry”

  • Ratneshwar Jha

    Nice summarization of related thoughts. The answer to Aras dependecies on microsoft can be as follows:
    1. Philosophical Point: Open source revolution is now struggling hard between Ideality vs Reality. Ideality is the very own philosophy which lead birth to OS concept (Unix revolution)which can be compared to Egalitarian social setup (Marxism). Reality is that OS piousness is now been blended with individual corporate pursuits.
    2. Techinical Aspect: As the world is witnessing steady rise in multi-platfom apps development. A PLM implementation must have to answer all of it as it has to fit in the given technological constrained ecosystem.Therefore, as of now,it would be far from practicailty to expect any enterprise solution to be complete OS solution.If at all it happens,it will be of limited scope of usability.

    Yes,your point regarding cost is very valid but first an enterprise OSS must answer all of the constraints with a well defined model and approach. Then only, it can be said “A dream come true”.


  • I’m leaving the space to argue about OSS to Aras’ people. I see Marc is here already. They provide un-usual OSS, in my view. Their uniqueness is a combination of non-OSS platform and OSS-like solution development. Nobody did it this way before, in my view… Best, Oleg

  • Mark, Thank you! The traditional view on OSS (doesn’t mean the right one, btw) is that community of “science degree people” develops solution. In order, to make it available to non-computer-science-degree people, companies like Red-hat is packaging/licensing/distributing. Aras is unusual combination of platform that wasn’t developed as a traditional OSS and lots of community projects. What is your characteristic to measure the size and activity of the community of development (if any)? Best, Oleg

  • Ratneshwar, Thank you for your comment! You made a very important point, in my view. The difference between philosophical and technical aspects The philosophy of OSS needs to merge with the reality of business. We are going to see multiple forms of these mergers… I see Aras is one of them. Best, Oleg

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  • Yes Oleg, we (Aras) are the same, but different. We use a Red Hat business model; make money selling optional enterprise subscriptions. Which is similar to the PLM System Maintenance you’d buy from any one of the major PLM providers… but with a lot more (i.e. like Upgrade Services no matter how much customization, etc.)

    The difference is that we’re combining formats as a single vendor – open source and community source… and then we put it all on top of standard commercial platforms. In our case Microsoft which is absurd to any open source ideolog.

    This is because we’re optimizing our format for global businesses as opposed to ideology.

    There’s a pretty good / deep overview of the numerous different open source structures that was presented at the Open Source Business Conference this year by The 451 Group – it’s called “The Evolution of Open Source Business Strategies” — PDF at

    It covers how IBM, MySQL, the Linux distros and others are structuring their software and business models to leverage open source methodologies – at the end of the day oss is about techniques not technology.

    Hope this helps.


  • Marc, Thanks for your comment and document link! I found it interesting… Also, it is always good to have a clarification of Aras vision and strategies. I think, innovation in Open Source will continue. We are in the early beginning and 2010s will bring more clarity in this space. I think, proprietary IT platforms are adding huge overhead in the overall software cost. By leveraging OSS infrastructure we can get rid of this cost in the future. This is just one option, of course… Best, Oleg

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