Hosted PLM and the problem of cloud integration

Hosted PLM and the problem of cloud integration

Once upon a time, PLM and cloud things were not friends. PLM companies were telling that cloud is not secured and manufacturing companies will never trust their IP to cloud services. But things have changed. Autodesk was the first vendor who open cloud PLM pandora box back in 2011. And since that time all PLM vendors slowly but surely are making their transition towards cloud PLM.

CIMdata a leading PLM consulting, research, and education company made a research about cloud PLM adoption – why not enough PLM users are in the cloud? One of the key finding was that actually security is not the biggest inhibitor for manufacturing companies to adopt cloud PLM. In fact the top issue is integration between cloud PLM and enterprise software.

Siemens PLM Teamcenter blog reminded me about it. Check this article – PLM Cloud Solution to Accelerate Business Value. Here is an interesting passage and picture from CIMdata study:

Great news for the PLM cloud solutions world: CIMdata, the leader in PLM education, research, and strategic management consulting, recently launched a webinar: “PLM on Cloud: Accelerate Your PLM Business Value” to address the challenges that companies face today while implementing PLM solutions and to amplify the benefits of PLM on the cloud. The webinar educates the audience on the recent research conducted by CIMdata in the PLM cloud space and gives insight to the best-in-class solutions that help accelerate PLM business value. In the webinar, you will learn how Teamcenter on cloud leverages AWS cloud services to address concerns that companies have today, including cloud integration, security risks, and performance.

Siemens Teamcenter blog is obviously selling Teamcenter partnership and certification by AWS, but that’s not a point. I can see how Teamcenter and AWS can reduce cost of IT needed for PLM deployment. I can also understand how Teamcenter on AWS can simplify the process of installation and configuration. But the last point made me think about Teamcenter, AWS and integration between enterprise software and extended enterprise.

Here is the thing. Teamcenter can be obviously deployed on AWS IaaS and eliminate the need to install and configure PLM. I see many large companies are migrating their IT stakes to AWS or compatible IaaS providers. So, it can naturally simplify everything, but… from integration perspective it might not change a lot.

I can see two possible options – Teamcenter cloud tenant is used by a single company or Teamcenter can be used by multiple companies. The first case doesn’t bring any integration advantages. The same Teamcenter integration can be done with or without AWS. Having multiple databases in the cloud will not solve a problem of integration. The second option can be interesting – will Teamcenter run as a multi-tenant solution serving multiple customers.

The last point in Teamcenter blog gives you a hint by stating that cloud will “eliminate complexities of system deployments and improve global collaboration across the extended enterprise:”.

Article doesn’t say anything about architecture of Teamcenter to make it happen. Also, article doesn’t say much about how Teamcenter on AWS can be used by smaller companies in extended enterprise and become more affordable and integrated PLM solution.

I used Teamcenter as an example, but I think the same question can be asked about other large PLM vendors – Enovia, Windchill and others. Are they ready to provide cloud PLM alternative or their cloud architecture is just hosted AWS instances?

What is my conclusion? The next round of PLM competition will happen in the cloud. How PLM vendors will solve challenges outline in CIMdata cloud PLM research? How AWS hosted PLM will solve the problem of cloud integration and extended enterprise collaboration? Teamcenter blog doesn’t say much about it. In my view, just by hosting existing platforms, the problem of integration and other problems outlined by CIMdata won’t be solved. The answer is more granular organization of data and native cloud services. Will Teamcenter and other large system provide the answer? The answer on this question will shed some lights on future trajectories of cloud PLM business. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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