How to build reliable PLM system? For long time, this topic is among the most often demanded requirement in engineering and manufacturing software. CAD and PLM software is extremely complex and it brings variety of issues related to reliability of software and its adoption. It is not unusual to see deliberate decisions made by manufacturing companies to adopt CAD tools in the middle of their development cycle from 2nd or 3rd service pack.
PLM tools in the past never been built frequently – one of the reason for that is to come down to a stable version that is tested enough and ready for enterprise deployment without risking large enterprise customer. Long release cycle was absolutely needed to eliminate crashes, errors, data leaks. Software vendors are using set of traditional tools such as unit tests and application monitoring to eliminate problems, but these are not the panacea to the problem.
For the last few years, I became in love with a new concept called “Chaos Engineering”. You can read about principles of chaos here. Here is my favorite passage:
Chaos Engineering is the discipline of experimenting on a distributed system in order to build confidence in the system’s capability to withstand turbulent conditions in production.
Advances in large-scale, distributed software systems are changing the game for software engineering. As an industry, we are quick to adopt practices that increase flexibility of development and velocity of deployment. An urgent question follows on the heels of these benefits: How much confidence we can have in the complex systems that we put into production?
Even when all of the individual services in a distributed system are functioning properly, the interactions between those services can cause unpredictable outcomes. Unpredictable outcomes, compounded by rare but disruptive real-world events that affect production environments, make these distributed systems inherently chaotic.
Check more on the following Github link about Chaos Engineering. It gives you bunch of links to variety of tools and information about Chaos engineering. Check the link and browse information about article and tools.
So, how is that related to PLM? Here is the thing… In the past, manufacturing companies acted pretty much individually. Very large OEMs organized their own eco-systems. Smaller acted by themselves. IT was in charge to build an operation environment for each individual company. Enterprise software such as CAD, PLM, ERP, MES was deployed and tuned for long period of time to make sure company can run properly. These enterprise systems grown in size and scale to become unmanageable with the current set of tools. For the last decade, the frequency of enterprise PLM system deployment decreased and many companies asked to slow down deployment of new tools. Remember this article – Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015. Guess what… we are in 2018, but I’m not sure BCA solved their PLM problems discussed in 2012.
New manufacturing environment can be characterized by an increased amount of dependencies between OEMs, suppliers, contractors, customers, business activities, conditions and processes. Traditional enterprise system architecture cannot support it anymore. This is one of the main reasons why we can see an increased interest in approaches such as “bi-modal PLM” and “PLM overlays“. Existing systems outgrew themselves and slow down the progress. We need to make a change.
What is my conclusion? Paradigm change will coming to enterprise PLM in a way to systems and infrastructure leveraging “chaos engineering” as a fundamental architecture pattern. Global distributed system of record and engagement will allow to manage data, organize collaboration and control processes across multiple geographies, organizations, teams and tools. Move slow and break nothing. That could be a new approach of changes in global distributed PLM tools capable to absorb changes and withstand complexity of changes and modifications. Reliable systems do exist. It is possible to build a new enterprise PLM system architecture on top of highly redundant and reliable system with right culture of maintenance, safety and reliability. For PLM vendors, it is a time to start thinking how to make global PLM services reliable with less features. Reliability and resilience will be the next major wave of technology we are waiting in PLM. Just my thoughts…
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.