PLM Vendors and Future Cloud / SaaS Wars

PLM Vendors and Future Cloud / SaaS Wars

Cloud technologies made huge progress in the last ten years in engineering and manufacturing companies. Back in 2010. You might remember the debates about how the cloud can potentially be used as technology, business model or applications. Check old CAD /PLM conference agendas like COFES 2010. I’m sure you will be smiling when reading some of these debates. Check my old blog – 6 questions about future CAD/PLM. A quick jump in 2015 and you can check what are differences between PLM cloud solutions coming from top vendors – The buyer’s guide for cloud PLM in 2015.

I draw the following diagram 4 years ago in my blog to explain what will be the trajectory of cloud PLM application development from company servers to hosted servers and multi-tenant cloud applications.

Fast forward to 2020. PTC acquisition of Onshape is one of the indications that PLM competition is moving into SaaS zone. If you missed my earlier articles about PTC and Onshape, check it Onshape+PTC=What happened?  and here Why PTC is on the right path to building a future multi-tenant PLM platform? (). So, as we’re moving in 2020, it is a good time to check CAD and PLM companies and how they compare to each other in the future of multi-tenant PLM platforms and SaaS competition.

I’m still working on providing a better comparison and technical details between system Meantime, here a quick summary of PLM SaaS tech status quo.


Autodesk cloud platform (Autodesk Forge) is a foundation of all cloud services at Autodesk. It is a multi-tenant cloud platform, which runs on the public cloud. The following article can give you some ideas about – What is Autodesk Forge.

Autodesk cloud PLM (Fusion Lifecycle) formerly Datastay is available as a separate service. There is no technical details available online. Check my earlier blog with some information about recent Autodesk cloud development related to PLM.

Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE is a foundation and cloud platform of all DS products. According to the DS website, the platform is available on-premise, private and public cloud. The roots of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform go back to the acquisition of MatrixOne. I’ve been watching a recent online DS cloud event, which includes preview of new mobile SaaS applications.

Dassault Systemes is using Outscale cloud hosting company for 3DEXPERIENCE.


Oracle PLM is evolving from Oracle Agile PLM, to a new Oracle Cloud PLM I wrote an article few months ago. Oracle call it Cloud 2.0. Check it here (). Check CIMdata – Oracle Supply Chain of the Future interview. More about Oracle cloud PLM strategy is here.

A few years ago, I found interesting research about Oracle multi-tenant database development. The following picture shows you functional scope of Oracle Digital Supply Chain solution.


PTC has its existing product line (Windchill) and now expanded with Onshape Cloud CAD. Check Jim Brown’s article about why Onshape and PTC is more that CAD in the cloud. The following passage is important.

PTC understands the value of the platform. During the analyst briefing about the acquisition, I had the opportunity to join the discussion and stated that although many people know Onshape as “CAD in the Cloud,” the announcement also mentioned the words “PLM” and “platform.” I shared my view that one of the unique aspects of Onshape is that it offers a very different data management approach than the traditional CAD – PLM relationship. I asked Jim Heppelmann how much the platform played into the decision to acquire Onshape and what plans he has to carry that value into the future. Jim shared that just cloud CAD would have been interesting and he probably would have made the acquisition for just for CAD. But he shared that he wanted to get the whole footprint on the cloud and that PLM made the decision a “no-brainer.”

Here is a slide I captured during the PTC announcement last week.


SAP 4/HANA Cloud is a cloud PLM from SAP. According to the website, it gives many options and can (!) be deployed in the cloud.

Siemens (PLM)

Siemens made multiple acquisitions and keep expanding. One of them is Mendix, which is an umbrella for low-code development and digital transformation. Read more about it here. It is hard to say how all Siemens PLM pieces will be connected together. Check my Digital Magic article. But the following marketing picture can give you some ideas. Check the recent interview with Siemens Industrial Software CEO Tony Hemmelgarn.

Moving from giant companies to smaller but growing companies and startups, here are few vendors to mention.


Aras is fast growing PLM platform, famous by its enterprise open-source model and flexible modeling engine. Aras made significant progress for the last decade winning many enterprise customers. According to Aras website, cloud is a hosted version of Aras. Aras is also available on Azure. I didn’t find any information about Aras multi-tenancy and special SaaS capabilities.

Arena Solutions

Arena Solutions was pioneering on-demand PLM models for the last 20 years making significant progress is acquiring customers. Recently acquired by JMI Growth fund, Arena also snatched Omnify PLM. Arena is SaaS product. There are not many details about Arena architecture online, but it probably goes back to the origins of the company.

OpenBOM (disclosure- I’m CEO and co-founder)

OpenBOM is online SaaS service helping manufacturing companies and engineering teams to manage Parts, Bill of Materials, Vendors and Purchases. OpenBOM is multi-tenant data management system. OpenBOM has unique collaborative features similar to Google Sheets allowing simultaneous data editing and collaboration. OpenBOM provides integration with many CAD, PLM and ERP systems.


Propel is a cloud PLM system that using the cloud platform foundation. It provides PLM and QMS functions. The unique characteristic of Propel is integration with the platform and features. is a multi-tenant platform. As far as I know, Propel is using data management, administration, and user interface framework.


Upchain is a cloud-based PLM system It has PDM function helping to organize CAD data, manage BOM, revisions, ECRs and focusing on connecting manufacturing companies’ supply chain. Upchain has API and integrated with many software packages. Check Upchain features. The website doesn’t say anything specific about the cloud architecture of Upchain.

What is my conclusion? The ifs and whens of cloud PLM are gone. PTC acquisitions are the milestone to move cloud PLM competition from hosting and platforms that can do “any cloud you want” into a world of scalable, multi-tenant SaaS platforms. These platforms will be efficient, will utilize the full power of cloud resources and will optimize business models to leverge scalability and elasticity of cloud systems. The technology is changing and companies that have the right technology will have a very good chance to win. 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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