Does Web API make PLM integration easier?

Does Web API make PLM integration easier?


Autodesk promised to integrated Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle (know as PLM360) with everything. Check my old blog here. Promised as something called “Evented Web”, it connected Fusion Lifecycle with other applications via mechanism similar to IFTTT or Zapier.

I learned from article  by Kyle Maxey that Jitterbit that its cloud-based integration solution will be fully embedded in Autodesk’s product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, Fusion Lifecycle. The following passage is interesting:

Using Jitterbit should be within the capabilities of the typical user of Autodesk software, according to Pupko. The ability to share data without having to write code or depend on third-party developers should empower ordinary users. In that way, Jitterbit integration fits Autodesk’s democratization script, where users are empowered to utilize tools once entrusted to specialists—such as PLM and simulation. Now, customized PLM connections can be quickly and easily built by a business to react to its needs.

It made me think about cloud and application integration. Few years ago I posted- Why PLM need to learn Web API?  It looks like engineers and implementation specialists will have to learn Web API to work on integration technologies such as Jitterbit.

In the past, SQL code hack was an ultimate way to integrate PLM system with everything. After all, the data was stored in SQL databases and getting data in/out using SQL commands and custom code was a proven way to get things done. Enterprise software vendors are moving databases and servers to the cloud. Which makes SQL databases not accessible for customization. So, vendors need to put APIs to customize systems. In the past, I’ve been asked what is a difference between using Jitterbit with PLM360 vs just using IFTTT or Zapier. Although API are widely used on the web, to get it done properly you need to have system fit together. My hunch is that this is what Autodesk/Jitterbit bundle is about.

I checked Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle website for Jitterbit prices. It starts from $800 per month and goes up to $3200 per month. Look here for more details. There many additional variables – number of environments, connectors, local agents, cloud agents, max number of connectors and cost of connectors. At the high level, it is similar to what we knew as Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), but moved to the cloud. This is consistent with my take on cloud evolution – Cloud PLM: from servers to multi-tenant apps. It looks like Autodesk / Jitterbit environment does fit “cloud servers” stage of cloud evolution, but there is no clear indication about underlining architecture shared on the website and articles. I hope to to attend Accelerate 2016 conference in Boston later this year to learn more.

What is my conclusion? PLM integration is still complex topic and requires lots of “hard wiring” and data manipulation. Web APIs are replacing SQL code because servers are now moved to the cloud. The technologies are changing, but the nature of integration is still the same. Lots of codes and data management specific, which might require integration specialists to be involved. 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. My opinion about BOM can be unintentionally biased.


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