Unless you lived under the rock for the last several years, you’ve heard about SaaSification. This funny term was changing entire industries. Read Forbes article – How ‘SaaSification’ Is Taking The Tech World By Storm.
The greatest value the cloud offers is the ability to use technology to scale business processes quickly and make them more consumable. The cloud is a big enabling piece of this cycle, helping facilitate the speed and scale at which organizations create and refine their offerings with Software as a Service (SaaS) underpinning this process. The so-called “SaaSification” of business is driving innovation and smart organizations get this—they are seizing the moment, creating dynamic services on a platform, consumable by large groups of users at any time. According to some recent industry analyst estimates, 34 percent of enterprises will have 60 percent or more of their applications on a cloud platform within two years.
My favorite passage from the article is this one –
This has turned much of technology’s conventional wisdom upside-down. Today’s enterprises want to emulate cloud-native companies like Facebook that are pushing straight through to production and actually letting a product fail there, testing live in production.
For years, the PLM industry was relying on PLM systems that required install, setup, configuration, and implementation cycle. Although almost all PLM vendors announced some sort of cloud solution, the devil is in the details. A very small portion of them is actually SaaS which is like Facebook is always on, allows online registration, trial, and usage. In my article PLM Software Architecture Evolution, I explained the difference between SaaS and hosted systems. Check this out.
CIMdata published the interview with Jon Hirschtick, the president of PTC SaaS, and David Katsman, VP of customer experience at Onshape PTC. Check this out here. The interview was heavily focused on cloud strategy, Onshape, and the Atlas platform.
I captured two important passages about PTC cloud strategy. One is related to the value of the cloud, but more specifically about the difference between Hosted and SaaS solutions.
Jon Hirschtick (JH): Well, you know, great navies have more than one ship! First, cloud solutions are really important to PTCs strategy. I think that mirrors the importance to the customer, not because of what the customer is asking for, or what they sell or buy, but because of the potential of cloud used properly to enable higher benefit to the customer. Just like computers in general gave benefits to the customer. Cloud has potential, there’s a number of ways to use cloud, and we’ll talk about that and how each of them have escalating levels of potential to impact and benefit the customer, whether they realize it or not. It’s super important to us because it’s super important to our customers whether they know it or not.
SP: You said that ‘Cloud is an important technology, and there’s multiple and different ways to use it to benefit the customer.’ To me that’s the most important thing. A hosted solution provides benefit to the customer, it just can’t provide the same benefit as other applications of cloud technology.
JH: Correct, that’s just the point, a legacy solution provides some benefits too. We’re not trying to tell every customer to switch midstream, that wouldn’t be good for them. One of the points I really want to emphasize, because I thought it would come up, would be this idea of different ways to use cloud to produce different benefits.
The second passage is about SaaSified PTC applications.
JH: The core of Onshape has evolved into becoming the Atlas platform, for not just Onshape but a range of PTC applications that are under development. We’ve announced a couple like GDX for Creo generative design extensions for Creo that’s going to be on Atlas, Vuforia is moving to the Atlas platform with their current solutions moving over and some certain new solutions. Creo and Windchill are going to build let’s say “SaaSified” offerings, like we say there are levels, and even Jim (Heppelmann, PTC CEO) would tell you this, there are levels of “cloudness” there, so we will bring some benefit to those users too.
Which made me think about the trajectory of PTC SaaSification. PTC owns one of the biggest combinations of PLM technologies. Starting from PTC Windchill, which is hosted cloud, then moving to recently acquired Arena Solutions and then Onshape/Atlas platform. The biggest PLM SaaS puzzle PTC has now () is to resolve the combination of these solutions and to build a scalable single SaaS platform.
While I can see how Onshape/Atlas will be growing and expanding with new features and functions, it is not clear to me what portion of these new functions will be developed from scratch and what will be “SaaSified” from existing Windchill and Arena stacks. Both Windchill and Arena have developed 20-25 years ago. Mixing all these services together while continuing Onshape/Atlas expansion can present an interesting set of architectural challenges.
What is my conclusion?
The next few years will be pivotal to understand the trajectory of PTC PLM development. I expect Onshape / Atlas to grow with new features, functions and platforms (Azure?). Onshape seems to be growing fast in both business and educational segments for both small and large companies. Will features migrate to Atlas / Onshape PLM from existing Windchill and Arena platforms? There is no clear answer to this question. At least I wasn’t able to find it. What will happen with the independent development of Windchill and Arena at the same time? This is another interesting question. How all these platforms will balance new development and support and expand existing ones? Last, but not least is how Onshape/Atlas will support all partners. The existing Onshape App Store is a great platform for applications (full disclosure – I’m CEO and co-founder of openbom.com available also via Onshape App Store application). If you plan to touch one of the following PTC products, you better understand the trajectories of their development. Just my thoughts…
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 networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.