Serverless PLM – Dream or Reality?  

Serverless PLM – Dream or Reality?  

Have you heard about serverless computing?  Not yet… This is a time you should start paying attention. Serverless computing is gaining some traction. While serverless isn’t exaclty new thing it is reaching some interesting point in the development where it is already mature to observe some trajectory of future development.

First of all, relax – serverless isn’t exactly serverless at all, but it does allow to application developer to set event triggers and leave the infrastructure requirements completely to the cloud provider. The vendor delivers exactly the required amount of competing power, storage, memory. Developers don’t need even to think or code for this.

There are lot of resources online about serverless architecture. Start from Wikiepdia here and move forward. Here is a simple passage:

Serverless computing still requires servers, hence it’s a misnomer.[1] The name “serverless computing” is used because the server management and capacity planning decisions are completely hidden from the developer or operator. Serverless code can be used in conjunction with code deployed in traditional styles, such as microservices. Alternatively, applications can be written to be purely serverless and use no provisioned servers at all.[2]

The same article gives you an idea of current serverless providers or runtimes and databases. Most of providers are big cloud infrastructure players – Amazon, Google, Microsoft. Below you can see 3 videos from each of these providers showing off a story about serverless computing. I found these videos is a good place to start.



Google Cloud Platform:

You can ask me what is the point? Isn’t it another level of infrastructure like we’ve seen before – IaaS, PaaS, etc. Remember my article about PLM and cloud wars ()? The vendor list is the same.

But here is a difference. Today, PLM vendors are using IaaS services provided by all these vendors to host their existing PLM products developed 15-20 and sometimes even 25 years ago into IaaS infrastructure. In the grand schema of cloud PLM development, this is all yesterday news. Some of newer PLM vendors such as Aras and Propel are more focusing on a  specific platform and services. Aras is very much dependent on Microsoft tech stack and Propel is fully relying on This is a story for today.

Unfortunately, for most of manufacturing companies these stories are not very much resonating. Cloud PLM for them is either very expensive idea with slow ROI or existing PLM suites hosted using one of available IaaS providers. I’d say, it is kind of boring.

Why Serverles PLM is interesting? Because it is a paradigm shift combining development methods with an extreme level of resource optimization. The first one can give an opportunity to realization of super flexible model of product lifecycle computing services. Second is a foundation of future business model where PLM infrastructure will cost a fraction of today pseudo-cloud PLM services hosting an entire databases for a customer with 10-30 users.

Who has the best opportunity to realize such potential? This is a great question to ask. I’d love to say, existing PLM vendors are heads down developing future serverless PLM architecture. It is still a possibility for them to do so. However, I’d bet on newcomers in cloud software busienss – companies developing services for manufacturing companies to discover such opportunity and come with a new PLM paradigms enabling flexible resource allocation and codeless planning of PLM implementations.

What is my conclusion? Serverless is a new computing paradigm which is getting traction among developers. As much as I think, developers are one of the most important category of serverless platforms today, I believe serverless technologies can kick off ideas how to transform old fashion PLM suites into flexible and configurable set of services with a fraction of cost comparing to existing PLM product suites hosted on Amazon, Azure and maybe Google. 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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