Microservice & advantages of  PLM cloud native apps

Microservice & advantages of  PLM cloud native apps

People are hard. We know that. There are so many articles written about complexity of changes, people management and PLM implementations. However, here is that thing  – I think technology matters. Especially when it comes to cost and scale. I was attending HOOPs summit in Boston yesterday organized by TechSoft3D.

TechSoft event usually brings great talks about 3D and visualization. One of the topics that caught my special attention was related to scaling of engineering applications. It came across several applications and partners presentation demonstrating their solutions together with TechSoft3D.

Here is one of the examples – aPriory CEO, Julie Driscoll talked about scaling their application and embracing AWS as a platform for the future scale.

It made me think about scaling and cost of PLM applications. In the past PLM scalability was mostly focused on two main aspects – how to scale SQL database and how to scale PDM functions distributing CAD files and moving them between centralized vault and workstations. I can see how things are changing. Companies are really interested how to scale their products and services. The question how to leverage substantiation power available today from variety of cloud data services is very often on the top of people mind when “scale” question is asked.  But to get this cloud power isn’t a simple thing. It cannot be achieved by bringing existing PLM servers to cloud services. It made me think about microservices and web architectures again.

Last week, I asked what PLM systems are actually supporting microservice architecture? From many answers (some of them are online and some of them are offline), I can make a conclusion that the answer is none. However, if you have information you’re ready to share, please reach me  out.

My attention was caught by the article – Kubernetes and microservices: A developers’ movement to make the web faster, stable, and more open. You might consider the article a bit more technical, but I certainly recommend you to take time and read.

Here is my favorite passage:

Referring to what is in some cases dubbed “microservices” or “cloud native computing,” the development philosophy holds that breaking applications into smaller, self-contained units can significantly reduce costs and time needed to write, deploy, and manage each one. The result should be a web that is faster yet more stable. And just as compelling to proponents, it should deliver a more open web that makes it easier for users to change cloud platforms.

While such shifts in development philosophy typically take many years, cloud native computing has caught fire and is having a big moment. Even though it remains small overall, the uptake and enthusiasm has even taken advocates like Morgan by surprise.

“It’s kind of incredible how rapidly this has been growing,” he said. “It speaks to the fact that people are focused on the right thing, which is solving actual problems. What we are seeing here is just a beginning. But I think this could fundamentally change everything about web development.”

And this one from IBM:

Jason McGee, vice president and CTO of IBM Cloud Platform, said his company is betting big on cloud native solutions because they have the potential to help its customers move faster. Microservices are allowing companies to mix and match containerized, open source solutions so they don’t have to build everything from scratch.

“I can build a microservice that you can re-use,” McGee said. “That will allow the overall industry to go faster. Right now, we spend a lot of time re-solving the same problems.”

You can think about microservices and new application infrastructure as a fundamental change in development of applications. It applies to PLM software directly. Most of them are monolithic 20 years old tools. Some of them are shifting towards REST APIs and cloud services. To scale these applications will be an important goal for every CAD/PLM company and will become a question of survival in few years.

What is my conclusion? PLM industry is a step before realizing that technology of web development can change fundamental architectural assumptions of 20-25 years of PLM development. From “central” SQL database thinking, PLM vendors will be moving to polyglot persistence and from hosted PLM servers to microservices that can be integrated and connected with each other to scale together. This is a note to all CTOs and IT people on both sides – vendors customers. 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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