What is wrong with 3DEXPERIENCE and ENOVIA?

What is wrong with 3DEXPERIENCE and ENOVIA?

Engineering.com article – A Big Win as Yamaha “Does a Daimler” and Chooses Siemens PLM brings up big debates about Dassault Systemes vs Siemens PLM solutions. You can find my old blog articles about “Daimler” story here. The history is coming back to the time when Daimler decided to move to CATIA because of newly introduced version – CATIA V6, which required ENOVIA backend. Read more about it here.

A decade later, Engineering.com article suggested Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE is not very much a happy story and many customers are struggling to adopt it in production. Here is a passage from the article:

As for CATIA in its V6, 3DEXPERIENCE based version, the situation is more problematic. ENGINEERING.com has previously revealed that this solution, in combination with 3DEXPERIENCE’s product data backbone ENOVIA, so far has been a failure in Jaguar Land Rover’s iPLM project, which after seven years still isn’t up and running. The iconic British automaker is still mainly using their old combination of CATIA V5 and Siemens Teamcenter as a foundation for their product development process. Nor is another big 3DX/V6 reference object, Renault, a purely 3DX user. When I asked Renault’s PLM manager, Eric Delaporte, about this in late 2016, he said that they aren’t running a “clean” 3DEXPERIENCE solution; instead, as he explained, “We are aiming at 3DX, but as of today the solution in question is a mixed V5/V6 version.” While waiting for the evidence that the 3DX platform and the V6 architecture have the necessary industrial maturity, automotive companies have generally stuck to the well-functioning Dassault Systèmes V5 solution, often in combination with Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter/Tecnomatix suite.

While Engineering.com doesn’t offer much data, I picked the comment provided by one of the reader with some interesting details.

There’s been a real conundrum this decade with Dassault Systemes, it seems that the 3DX platform with V6 software offers unparalleled capabilities for product and business management, but it’s a mess for implementation. Almost everybody I know in companies transitioning to it are frustrated. 3DX is simply too ambitious at the moment, it requires multiple servers and a web-based configuration with Oracle/SQL database deployed to function. I think if they made the on-premise version as integrated as NX while retaining the UI and functionality, then it’d be the clear winner.

If you’re not deep enough into terminology, product, history and technological trajectories of Dassault Systemes, ENOVIA and 3DEXPERIENCE, I can suggest the following article by Michael Finocchiaro  – Demystifying 3DEXPERIENCE.

Building on the success of CATIA V5 and Solidworks as well as their acquisition of MatrixOne in 2005, Dassault Systèmes created the V6 platform. As I described here, V6 was a fusion of placing VPM V6 on top of the MatrixOne foundation and was released in 2008. One of the biggest changes in V6 was the “no files” concept which meant that CATIA V6 no longer could open files off of a file system (file-based), but rather would be connected to a platform called ENOVIA V6 for access to and saving of geometry modified in session (“no files” as the data was stored on file servers and inside the database). This was quite an adjustment for IT departments that were used to file-based ways of working and did necessarily want to be obligated to buy a server. ENOVIA V6 was both this collaboration platform for CATIA V6 as well as the former MatrixOne “Centrals” portfolio for Enterprise PLM management of BOMs, Change, Supplier Relationships, etc. This also was confusing and is why people still refer to the platform as “ENOVIA”.

These publication made me think about what is potentially wrong with ENOVIA? Here is my take on the topic based on my experience. In a nutshell, it is about 3X complexity.

1. IT Complexity

ENOVIA combined with MatrixOne engine introduced a very complex combination of servers and components wrapped together to scale up as a single product. By itself, it requires lot of steps to install and configure. Combined with CATIA and other CAD packages it can reach the level of sophistication and configuration that is hard to manage by inexperience people.

2. Data modeling complexity

As any PLM product in the industry, MatrixOne has its own object modeling engine, which is based on Item-based object model. Designed by MatrixOne, it was already complex enough to implement and configure. To give you an idea about what is that, navigate to the following page to download ENOVIA Studio Platform V62011x  ~900 page documentation [document was there at the time I wrote the article] It is ENOVIA branded version of MatrixOne documentation. One the top of MatrixOne object model and data management platform, there is CATIA Modeler. All together is a culmination of complexity in PLM industry.

3. CAD+PLM best practices complexity

ENOVIA (MatrixOne) had application that used for traditional PLM / cPDM activity such as BOM management, Change management, Project Management and others. These applications originally known as MatrixOne Centrals came into 3DEXPERIENCE in a new form with lot of transformation and enhancements. These applications are complex by themselves, but combined with CATIA and CAD modeling can demand very high level of implementation knowledge.

3DEXPERIENCE is a beautiful software masterpiece capable to manage very sophisticated tasks. So, don’t underestimate the complexity of things CATIA and ENOVIA can manage. But to get it done is not a simple task.Too much history and too much complexity. Combined with history and complexity of complex manufacturing organizations, 3DEXPERIENCE / ENOVIA can introduce a level of challenge that is not simple to manage.  And to get there, you will have to pay a premium. There manufacturing companies decided to implement 3DEXPERIENCE should be prepared for two things: 1/ potentially very high cost and length of implementation; 2/ complexity of moving such hybrid environment towards cloud (private and public).

What is my conclusion? The next challenge for Dassault Systems is to simplify its platform and application stack. Lot of history is involved, but manufacturing environment is getting more dynamic and flexible. Old PLM applications were designed for 20-30 years lifecycle, today is different. It comes also from company business – product line development is more flexible with more changes as well as IT environment demanding end-to-end cloud with flexible data models, deployments in days and ability to share data in the heterogeneous environment of OEMs, contractors and suppliers. It is time for DS architects to spend some time near drawing board, otherwise, the magnitude of next challenges will be even bigger that manufacturing companies are facing today with 3DEXPERIENCE platform. 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.

Image is credit Engineering.com article

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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  • David Martin

    Great article, Oleg!

  • beyondplm

    David thank you!

  • Kent Keller

    I still think there is too much dependency on the CAD files in most solutions. The thought being that since CAD is used to drive CNC and other manufacturing processes, you need to manage the CAD files as the core of your system. However, there are massive downsides to this type of thinking. Because of this, BOMs are now dependent on file reference structure, the “Sandbox” becomes difficult to manage and isolate, engineering throughput is now bottlenecked by the performance of CAD assemblies, Dynamic changes to high level product becomes difficult to predict, deployment downstream to ERP, may require CAD installation and training, etc, etc. The core company system should avoid unnecessary CAD file dependency.

  • beyondplm

    Kent, thanks for your comment! DS made V6 (aka 3DEXPERIENCE) dependent on virtual product model (CATIA). I think, they are trying to establish stronger vertical integration, but complexity hit it in the middle. Just my opinion, of course…

  • Kent Keller

    I have had the best success when CAD files are managed by Engineering, then used to feed an independent, traceable Product Structure / Revision manager (i.e. PLM) that is CAD agnostic. The CAD agnositic system can easily build product structure and is, by definition, cross CAD compatible.
    This lightens the load of complexity in downstream systems as CAD is dissolved out and only attached in where needed for CNC.
    CAD Files –> PDM System –> PLM System –> ERP System
    CAD is dissolved out between PDM and PLM.

  • beyondplm

    Kent, In my view, this is a traditional strategy for PLM products for the last 10-15 years. However, 3DX is taking a different path in my view with data-driven approach in CATIA.

  • Kent Keller

    I would like to learn more about this.

  • Kent Keller

    What I am suggestion is not just a departure from file centered management, but a departure from CAD centered management. The CAD data stops being managed outside of engineering and kinda “goes along for the ride” downstream. This means that BOM management can be done completely “CADless”. This is not always a big advantage, but it certainly can be. Example, imagine a company where only 10% of their data in even in CAD. Of this, 8% is in Solidworks, and 2% is in AutoCAD, Rhino, Visio, or whatever. The existing NOMs that exist in ERP, Excell files, PDM Professional, etc could be imported cross platform into the CAD agnostic system for immediate ROI. There is no “When we finally get all the product in CAD…” Excuse. Napkin schetch and photos with markup can also serve to document your products and the CAD agnostic PLM doesn’t even care.

  • beyondplm

    About what?

  • beyondplm

    Some PLM vendors promoted the idea of CAD agnostic Item (BOM) driven implementations. It worked for some degree, but companies didn’t like the idea of integrating between CAD world and CAD agnostic PLM. It created too many integration challenges. Some of them are not real problems, but some of them are painful (if change processes requires some CAD / design work to be done). Also customers hated to deal with multiple vendors. Because CAD agnostic PLM usually smaller organizations (eg. Aras), they’ve been forced to provide integrations with CAD systems as well. New ideas (or buzzwords ) in this space are “overlays”. All PLM vendors are doing some “overlaying” to cover existing PLM systems and take over them in the future.

    What you offer is essentially BOM management system that is capable to integrate with PDM, ERP, CAD and other systems. And I like the idea. That’s why I founded OpenBOM (openbom.com), so existing systems can stay as is – CAD, PDM, PLM and OpenBOM is linking to data in these systems or import it when needed.

  • Kent Keller

    The “Overlay” buzz word basically. This industry is like drinking water from a fire hydrant.

  • beyondplm

    The idea of overlay isn’t new. It is a result of high-level of PLM system stickiness. To replace system is hard. To overlay system is much easier. Especially when it is combined with the expansion and offering less expensive licenses. It is of course, only applies to large manufacturing companies with complex PLM implementations.

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  • Manjunath Rao

    This blog is nice and informative . Please keep on sharing such articles.

  • Hariprasad

    Great post . Thank you for sharing .

  • Manjunath Rao

    This blog is nice and informative . Please keep on sharing such articles.Enovia Upgrade.

  • beyondplm

    Thank you!

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  • I dived in 3DX recently and came to following…
    Keepingto tightly combine presentation with controller is one huge problem in this software complex, because then its API doen’t stay the conflicting JSP tweaks, hence view adjustments cannot be simply reused. Some serious misunderstandings include overusing s and additional windows as root of UI structure, by the way it triggers similar server-side rendering context over and over again with almost each action.
    Also, community is closed from index, which makes it only worse.

  • beyondplm

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve seen issues with iframes. However, the following comment is not clear -“also, community is closed from index, which makes it only worse”

    Do you mind to clarify?

  • Finding community pages from Swym in the net is not obvious, because it’s out of search index (entries are dynamically loaded) which makes troubleshooting issues encountered by someone else before an unnecessary waste of time.
    Adding to what seems not clear about “JSP tweaks” – actually I meant any changes in front end. With weird logic tightly declaring where each button should be placed exactly, it’s no easy to customize for organizations that care about their employees’ user experience. For example, why one would hide the most important actions (Create, Add Thing, Export) in submenu while exposing not-so-useful actions related to View?

  • beyondplm

    @vintproykt:disqus thanks! Keep in mind, this is a platform for large business and IT service providers. Making it complex is part of the business model. As well as making it lock-in data. http://beyondplm.com/2019/09/08/what-would-happen-if-plm-vendors-agree-about-data-standards/