Do you think the cloud is big enough for PLM?

Do you think the cloud is big enough for PLM?

I have many discussions these days about cloud PLM with variety of people in different roles – technical, marketing, sales, etc. Early this week, I had a chance to run a roundtable discussion during Autodesk University Russia 2012 – How to select the right Cloud? It is interesting to see how discussions are getting more mature. Still, there are many people that trying to emotionally steer the discussion towards the “security topic”. Usually, I agree with them – cloud is a question of trust. From that standpoint, it is not different from your trust to online banking system or the internet hosting provider.

The topic that rarely came to discussion is a question of capacity and cost of cloud storage. I can see people impressed with limitless storage systems of Google, Amazon and other cloud giants. And the trend for cloud storage price can take it even down in the future. Few days ago, I’ve seen an interesting infographic article from Mashable presenting an impressive visualization of cloud monsters – Google, Amazon, Dropbox, Microsoft and others. Here is an interesting passage from this article:

Some companies have dropped clues to their true cloud space, however. Their networks scale many petabytes of data on a daily basis, storing and transmitting hundreds of gigabytes per second. If we assume the major cloud operators — Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft — are storing about 300 petabytes each (and that’s a conservative estimate), then the cloud as we know it reaches at least 1 exabyte.

So, the question I’m asking these days is how much storage companies need to have on the cloud? Will CAD/PLM vendors be able to accommodate online storage for more and more companies interesting to get into the cloud PLM and cloud CAD? Who will come with right solutions to provide a scalable and efficient cloud storage scaling mechanism for different manufacturing companies? The scale and size are different. When you can probably put all engineering data of a typical mid-size manufacturing company to your pocket size hard disc / storage, I don’t believe large OEMs in aerospace can find a solution to store 50-year data history even using their own IT facilities.

What is my conclusion? Scaling, Sizing, Pricing. These are important topics and questions to ask about. We are in the early days of cloud adoption. To understand the right capacity of cloud storage and price it right can be one of the key factors to success. Don’t underestimate a size perception and utilization factor. Few people are approaching maximum size of Google’s email storage. To scale at the right time is one of the keys to success. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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