Will PLM microservices kill platform dinosaurs?

Will PLM microservices kill platform dinosaurs?


Until now we had enough said about “cloud”. While PLM vendors are still disputing what is a true and false cloud, the things are moving forward. Have you heard about “microservices”? You probably should… Because, microservices is one of these things that can give you a better sense about different cloud technologies vs. old platforms hosted on Amazon and Microsoft IaaS platforms.

If you had no chance to catch up on my earlier writing about the role of microservices in cloud application architecture, here are few links to my articles – How PLM platforms will survive in no stack era, Why 2015 will be the year to rethink cloud, How to break limits of existing PLM architectures and CAD-PLM integration and microservices architecture.

Microservices are a more concrete and modern interpretation of service-oriented architectures (SOA) used to build distributed software systems. Like in SOA, services in a microservice architecture are processes that communicate with each other over the network in order to fulfill a goal. Also, like in SOA, these services use technology agnostic protocols.[1]. In contrast to SOA, microservices gives an answer to the question of how big a service should be and how they should communicate with each other. In a microservices architecture, services should be small and the protocols should be lightweight.

For Entrepreneurs Blog by David Skok article Microservices Essentials for Executives: The Key to High Velocity Software Development presents few interesting aspects about how new companies developed microservice based architectures capable to disrupt existing monolithic software stacks.

Among multiple benefits, an increased agility is my favorite:

Increased agility. Microservices empower development organizations to respond much more quickly to market and customer feedback. Whether it’s a game-changing feature or a tweak to make an existing feature eminently more usable, no longer will its release be delayed by the schedule of the single release train. Instead, each microservice can be released independently.


I compared agile microservice architecture with existing well known PLM environments.I think, most of PLM environments to day are still following tight coupling with some elements of centralization. I believe this central element is called PLM platform by most of PLM players. The really interesting thing can happen when existing monolithic applications and platforms will start to decouple. It will change architecture patterns and data integration paradigms.

Platformization is one of the modern trends in PLM software. CIMdata created a dossier about PLM platformizatio here. I’ve heard about that during the last CIMdata vendor forum. Read more on my blog here. Although from CIMdata articles, you can think about Platformization as a business strategy, I wonder what does it mean in terms of technologies and products. How existing PLM products and tools will be transformed into “business platforms”? In my view, the topic is important but controversial. It is going back to the reality of many PLM implementations – a diverse set of tools used by a company in a different areas of design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, etc. Agility of microservices can put a technological foundation behind the vision of “platformization”.

What is my conclusion? Existing PLM platforms are going back 15-20 years in the lifecycle of development and multiple acquisitions. These platforms are mostly monolithic application and servers relying on database architecture to store and manage data. One of the biggest problem of existing architectures is move from one product to another or to update existing products. The monolithic application nature makes that problem very painful. New cloud architectures can provide an alternative by bringing a set of microservices and replace existing product with new type of cloud agile platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain.

picture credit David Skok For Entrepreneurs blog 


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