PLM dilemma to support “all clouds”

PLM dilemma to support “all clouds”


After few years of the intensive sprint to support cloud technologies, major PLM vendors are happy to report – yes, we are on the cloud. While the most commonly asked question is “what cloud?”, the answer you usually can hear from vendors is simple – any cloud, just pick one. Private, public, hybrid… Our technologies are flexible and cloud enabled. We can deploy our servers anywhere. This is sounds like a happy story for IT managers looking how to “enable” their strategic presentations by cloud buzzword. IT managers can keep buying existing PLM products and believe that these products will be magically “transferred” into future cloud infrastructure.

The story is too good to be true. CIO article – Why private clouds will suffer a long, slow death put some interesting perspective on recent development of public cloud infrastructure by AWS, Microsoft and Google, public cloud infrastructure as well as what trajectory will take innovation in the future development of cloud services.

If growth of public cloud providers will continue as predicted, the two cloud giants will end 2020 at around $96 billion in total revenues — just shy of the magic $100 billion mark. At the same time, the following passage describes private cloud as a solution looking for a problem.

Analyst firm Wikibon believes that no vendor is making more than $100 million via OpenStack. If that’s anywhere near true, the sum total of all vendors has to be less than $2 billion. Private cloud is a concept propped up by legacy vendors desperate to provide enterprise IT groups a reason to keep buying their servers, storage, and network products, and that’s where the problem lies. It’s a solution in search of a problem. And not a very effective solution at that.

However, the most inspirational thing in the article is that private cloud supporters are spending resources and effort on solving wrong problems.

The core problem for private cloud is that the providers are focused on delivering what solves their problem — pushing more hardware. This blinds them to the importance of top of stack services and causes them to spend endless energy on tweaking the infrastructure software to incorporate their latest switch. Or server. Or storage array.

Opposite to that, public cloud providers are focusing on how they to leverage a massive scale of computing power combined together with new business and technological models offered by public cloud services.

The last one made me think about PLM vendors focusing on how PLM platforms can support all cloud platforms and on premise deployment at the same time. Although it might sound as a flexible strategy going to satisfy the demands of conservative IT managers and support sales messages, it can be a dangerous technological trajectory that will limit vendors from discovering new computing, data management and collaboration opportunities.

What is my conclusion? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You cannot have cloud PLM both ways if two ways conflict. Public and private cloud technologies are conflicting. By supporting both and trying to protect existing technological assets, PLM vendors are in danger to miss some new public cloud opportunities. Think about Kodak, RIM and few other companies. The good news for large PLM vendors is that slow death of private clouds combined with huge piles of cash collected by CAD/PLM vendors can still give a plenty of opportunities to develop or acquire new technologies. 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 cloud technologies can be unintentionally biased.


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