Will Graph DB provide a perfect model for PLM?

Will Graph DB provide a perfect model for PLM?

Graph is a very powerful paradigm. For many years, the idea of “graph” or “connection” was empowering software engineers to develop many PDM and PLM applications. As much the conceptual model of graph is good, the realization is not perfect. Therefore, all PDM and PLM vendors are using relational databases to manage data.

Database and data management technology is going through cambrian explosion of different options and flavors. It is a result of massive amount of development coming from open source, web and other places. Database is moving from “solution” into “toolbox” status. Single database (mostly RDBMS) is no longer a straightforward decision for all your development tasks.

My old presentation about PLM and different flavors of data management, I made a point of switching from database as a platform to a database as a tool paradigm. Check my article. I’d be interested to know your opinion. Few years ago I learned about Linkurio.us and its graph visualization tools. Linkurio.us video Graph-based product lifecycle management caught my attention few days ago.

If you’re one of PLM addicts, it can be a good movie for the weekend. You can find bunch of good examples and very good “graph PLM” ideas. Here are few screenshots I captured:

An example of product data structure as a graph:

Linkurio.us user interface allowing you to browse, navigate and filter information.

Application architecture

It made me think about usefulness of total graph model for PLM. No surprise, product structure and relationships are obviously a good match to graph. But this is true for many other concepts in modern connected world – devices, social networks, cloud infrastructure. I think, graphs can solve some specific problems in Product Lifecycle Management. At the same time, I still like to idea of database as a tool and not as a platform like it is used in many existing PLM platforms developed for the lats 15-25 years.

What is my conclusion? Database as a Tool. This is a new paradigm and an outcome from large diversity of database technologies growing for the last decade. Data storage is cheap and computing power is easy to get. So, future computing systems will be using multiple data management systems to achieve the goal of reliability, flexibility and scale. 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 can be unintentionally biased.


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