Autodesk was one of the first large vendors to announce the “cloud PLM” option back in 2011. Check my old blogs – My first take on Autodesk PLM 360 and Autodesk, Cloud, and PLM. It has been a long journey for Autodesk PLM.
Autodesk made a switch from providing isolated PLM applications to a broad vision of data management to support design data. Such a strategy provides tons of advantages by allowing it to provide a strong data foundation for design data and a broad range of interfaces to expand solutions with SaaS applications providing specialized solutions for solving specific business problems.
Earlier today, I found out that Autodesk is announcing what seems to be the next step for Autodesk PLM and it will play PLM under the Autodesk Fusion 360 umbrella as Autodesk Fusion 360 Manage. The new package is an instant addition to Fusion 360. This blog can give you some ideas about what is announced in addition to the name change.
It doesn’t change existing users, which probably means Autodesk didn’t change the existing technical architecture and data stack — just a new name.
… if you use Fusion Lifecycle, you will simply see the new name throughout the product. The name change will not interrupt your workflows and there is no action you need to take. Support resources remain the same as well. Fusion 360 Manage is the same great PLM solution as Fusion Lifecycle, just with a different name.
What seems to be new is Fusion 360 Manage extension. Check more here. The key element is to manage the release cycle in Fusion 360, which was a kind of gap in Autodesk Fusion 360 compared to other cloud CAD systems (eg. Onshape).
Here are a few examples of screenshots I captured in the video.
It raised many questions in my mind and I didn’t find answers yet to them on the Autodesk website. How Fusion 360 Manage is connecting to Fusion 360 data? Is it managed by a single user or group of people? How data can be shared and updated? How multiple Fusion 360 users will be managing data simultaneously connected to Fusion 360 Manage. I hope Autodesk will provide more answers soon. It is not clear how the new Fusion 360 Manage will be connected to other CAD systems from Autodesk (eg. Inventor) and others (eg. Solidworks). Finally, how Fusion 360 Manage will be compared to Autodesk Vault, which recently introduced a new “mobile” option.
The name “Manage” is not very original. It reminded me of another similar system, but fully on-prem – “Solidworks Manage”. The extension seems to be an interesting option Autodesk developed to provide an easy plug-in option for Autodesk Fusion 360.
What is my conclusion?
Autodesk is making an effort to connect its PLM system to Fusion 360, which makes total sense. It will take PLM out of isolation from other Autodesk products and close the PDM gap Autodesk Fusion 360 had with a new Release Management workflow. What is not clear is how Fusion 360 Manage data system is connected to Autodesk Forge and how information can be shared downstream. It is also not clear what will be the price for the Fusion 360 Manage extension. Fusion 360 Manage starts at 965$ / user/year, which is about twice of Fusion 360 price. Fusion 360 and Fusion Manage together are about the same price as Onshape without the new offering PTC acquired from Arena. So, both SaaS PLM options from Autodesk and PTC are not super cheap if you go with an average of 10 users setup. 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.