SaaS PLM Vendors Gambit

SaaS PLM Vendors Gambit

Manufacturing has been used PLM for a long time to track and manage product data design and changes in the company databases. But PLM paradigm is shifting and cloud / SaaS seems to be a trending word in the industry and PLM vendor’s lexicon these days. Back in 2018, I wrote my How to win PLM SaaS Race. PLM architecture evolution moved from on-premise servers to hosted servers and now on the fast move towards new architectures – PLM applications and SaaS platforms. Think about it as moving from NAS discs to Google Picasa and finally to Facebook Albums.

If you’re a PLM IT professional, I’m sure you’re trying to understand the repercussion of the SaaS PLM shift and where PLM vendors are standing in the SaaS transformation. In my earlier article last week, I provided a broad perspective on the decision making about PLM technologies, products, and vendors in the correlation to each company size, lifecycle, implementation phase, and other parameters. Check my articles here – 2021 PLM Selection Process.

I’ve been getting many questions about SaaS architectures and strategies for PLM recently. The last year brought a lot of news related to PLM and SaaS – PTC acquired first Onshape and then Arena Solutions; Siemens PLM announced Teamcenter X.

CIMdata recently released its plans to conduct the cloud/SaaS research, which is supported by leading PLM vendors – Aras, Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens. I look forward to learning about the results of this research.

The interest of PLM vendors to research and learn what is coming in the PLM SaaS race is clear. So, today, I want to share where I see each of these leading PLM companies are standing (the order of vendors in the list is alphabetical).

1- Aras

Aras PLM is the youngest member in the elite group of the PLM leaders. Aras was a prominent innovator in the PLM space introducing ideas of open source and subscription to the PLM industry much ahead of other vendors. Aras platform is flexible and probably one of the best in the world of traditional PLM. However, I didn’t find any public evidence that Aras is working on any SaaS technologies. Aras cloud strategy is focusing on “enabling” and enabling cloud hosting using the Azure IaaS platform. Aras technology completely relies on Microsoft stack which can explain Aras/Microsoft combination for cloud hosting. Aras’ Chief Strategy Marc Lind recently mentioned in his comments to one of my articles that Aras is using the latest and greatest cloud technologies. So, I hope Mr. Lind will share more.

Meantime, Aras PLM cloud is a deployment option based on hosted virtual machines on the Microsoft Azure platform. It is not clear what is Aras strategy for multi-tenancy and other SaaS specific characteristics I can see in the strategy of other PLM vendors.

2- Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systemes 3D EXPERIENCE is a foundation of everything that DS does these days. DS was investing a long time in this platform, which goes back to MatrixOne acquisitions and significant development and acquisition investments. The last one was acquiring NuoDB – a database vendor developing infrastructure optimized for SaaS and cloud-scale. Check out my article – Why DS acquired NuoDB?

DS position 3DEXPERIENCE platform as an all-in-one solution providing all 3 elements – IaaS/ PaaS/ SaaS.

Last year, before 3DEXPERIENCE WORLD 2020, I took a 7 days trial of 3DX SaaS applications. It was an interesting experience and you can read more about it here. Although details of 3DX SaaS multi-tenant architecture are not shared, there are multiple examples of how 3DX platforms can be available using SaaS configuration from different hosting options.

3- PTC

PTC is committed to SaaS development and SaaS architecture. The information about PTC SaaS was described during many events by PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann, PTC Atlas platform is the core foundation of PTC SaaS strategy with Onshape technology running at its core. Read more in my article – What is PTC Atlas Platform?

As you can see PTC positioned SaaS as a combination of licensing model, deployment model and specific architecture.

The recent acquisition of Arena PLM brings an additional element into PTC SaaS PLM Puzzle. After spending more ~$1.2B in SaaS acquisition, I’m sure PTC will double down on SaaS development and re-architecture of its existing products – Creo and Windchill.

4- Siemens

Last year, Siemens announced their strategy for a new SaaS and cloud solution – Teamcenter X. I had an opportunity to evaluate Teamcenter X and talk to Siemens architects and product managers about what TCX does and what are differentiators of Teamcenter X architecture. SIemens’ challenge as a leader in cPDM market share is to keep both words happy – new SaaS development and mature conservative Teamcenter setups. As you can see from the picture below, Teamcenter X is a strategy to provide full option flexibility and look for new SaaS advantages.

Check my articles about what I learned about Teamcenter X – Learning about Teamcenter X and how it can impact PLM SaaS development and here – I started the TCX SaaS PLM trial and here is what I learned.

What about other vendors?

I didn’t mention all PLM vendors, mostly because I was focusing on vendors providing support to the CIMdata SaaS PLM study. But I have to mention that other large vendors such as Autodesk, SAP, Oracle are also playing SaaS and cloud games these days. I hope to be able to share more about it in the future. Please share what you know about them in the comments.

What is my conclusion?

Unlike many competitive situations, leading PLM vendors stand different in the race towards future SaaS PLM. It ranges from PTC aggressively acquiring existing companies, technologies, and customers, building a new SaaS foundation to a very conservative Aras position, which recognizes cloud and SaaS as a deployment option and questioning how SaaS can benefit customers. However, from my experience, every single PLM development success in the history of the engineering software industry was a marathon and not a sprint. So don’t be confused by current stands and sacrifices vendors did. Building SaaS technologies is a lengthy process with multiple steps. What is important is to see strategic steps towards the future dominant position, rather than the immediate status quo.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networksMy opinion can be unintentionally biased.


Share This Post