How to compare SaaS PLMs?

How to compare SaaS PLMs?

Cloud SaaS Architecture

Unless you lived under the rock for the last few years, you’ve heard about SaaS. The new modern word SaaS is ramping around and vendors are using it everywhere. The ‘SaaSification’ is taking the tech world by storm says Accenture article

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.

The article highlights some very important aspects of SaaSification that are actually focusing on the customer value and enablement of processes that have never been possible to see before – 1/ new economic modeling; 2/ fast time to market; 3/ automation and agile delivery; 4/ high degree of user involvement.

As it happened many times in the past, vendors were taking names and filling it with a specific meaning and flavor that is different. When it happens a lot in the industry, the term becomes pointless very quickly. It happened with the “cloud” before and now it is happening with “SaaS”. The last 12 months were very fruitful for bringing different ‘SaaS’ applications and announcements to the PLM market. Here are just a few to mention. This is not an exhaustive list of announcement and SaaS applications, but I picked these three to show how different can be actually SaaS models.

  • PTC acquired Onshape and later Arena announcing SaaSification of PLM and future businesses.
  • Siemens introduced Teamcenter X, which is SaaS offering its very popular Teamcenter PLM.
  • Aras just introduced Enterprise SaaS for their Aras Innovator platform.

PTC is focusing on multi-tenancy as a criterion and differentiation for SaaS solutions. Multi-tenancy is a strong foundation of Onshape and now Atlas. When Arena was acquired, the same notion of multi-tenancy was mentioned by PTC. Check the old Arena’s blog – Not all clouds are created equal. This is a passage from a CIMdata review about PTC, Onshape, and Arena.

PTC announced the completion of the acquisition of Arena Solutions, a pure, multi-tenant SaaS PLM provider. PTC expects the acquisition to directly complement its Onshape pure, multi-tenant SaaS CAD and PDM solution. This combined solution will also complement PTC’s existing Windchill and Creo businesses by expanding the company’s presence in the attractive mid-market, where SaaS solutions are widely adopted.

Siemens TeamcenterX announcement was completely different. Siemens is coming from the place where Teamcenter is one of the most widely deployed on-prem PLM in the world. And coming from this place says a lot about architecture and solutions. Hence, even TeamcenterX is using SaaS definition, it looks like mostly focusing on automation and bringing Teamcenter instances to AWS using some advanced deployment technologies.  Here is how Siemens defines SaaS PLM:

Get started with Teamcenter X today for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud delivery of PLM that’s easy to use and easy to access. You can pay as you go, and only pay for what you need. Best of all, Siemens manages Teamcenter X for you, so we do the heavy lifting while you drive product innovation.1/ Instant-on cloud PLM for fast return on investment. 2/PLM that grows with you as your business grows; 3/ Mendix low-code platform keeps you up-to-date with the latest technology

Finally, Aras is introducing “Enterprise SaaS“. I can see some interesting parallels in how Aras did it. Back in 2007, Aras introduced “Enterprise Open Source”, which was a very innovative way to deliver a free download of Aras Innovator combined with open source community solutions and well-documented data model. Aras Enterprise SaaS is technically automated and containerized automated delivery of existing Aras innovator to hosted locations (currently Azure).

The powerful new SaaS offering, called Enterprise Edition, now complements the existing Standard Edition (formerly Premier) and Free Edition. Enterprise Edition delivers full customization capabilities in an all-inclusive SaaS format with DevOps processes specifically designed to meet the mission-critical demands of the most complex scenarios. The new subscription offer from Aras provides unmatched cloud capabilities for the largest enterprise deployments. Aras Enterprise SaaS delivers the same open, flexible, scalable and upgradable platform with the same applications and capabilities as available with an on-premise deployment.

So, how to compare SaaS PLMs? This is a question I’ve been getting from many readers of the blog. While I’m still thinking about comparing models with some criterias, here are a few ideas.

1- Available platform (AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.)
2- Tenant Model (Single vs Multi-tenant)
3- Compatibility between SaaS and non-SaaS offering
4- Continuous access vs Hosted Instances
5- Data sharing options

I’m still working on the list and therefore very much interested in your feedback and ideas.

What is my conclusion?

Many users and customers are confused about modern PLM SaaS trends. It is very hard to compare SaaS PLMs without going into some very specific comparison details about what is behind the SaaS wall. In my article, I brought a few ideas on how to compare it, but I’m looking forward to your suggestions. Once, we discuss it enough, I’m going to create a comparison table of all vendors.  What is clear today is that SaaS is not a single word that can be used to compare PLM vendors these days. 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, construction companies, and their supply chain networksMy opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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