Are you ready for cloud computing? Apparently, a growing number of PLM and design tool providers think the time is ripe to start migrating core engineering systems to the cloud as a way to facilitate global collaboration and to provide more cost-effective and scalable ways of implementation.
While definitions vary, the idea behind the cloud is to leverage highly scalable and pooled computing resources, affording organizations the flexibility to scale processing power up and down, depending on need, as well as to eliminate the need for investment in costly dedicated server, networking, storage, and datacenter gear along with the dedicated personnel and talent to run and administer the systems.
Arena Solutions' PDXViewer is a cloud-based tool that lets engineering organizations share detailed BOMs, build packages, and quote packages with their supply chain partners.
(Source: Arena Solutions)
While cloud technology is dominating headlines and new user implementations for many core enterprise business systems, including financial and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, the technology is still pretty nascent in the PLM sector. The reason for the slower uptake? It's mostly due to companies' reticence to entrust core R&D and engineering intellectual capital to servers and services that lie outside of the protections of their own network domains and security infrastructures.
The other big inhibitor for cloud-based design tools is performance. Many shops are skeptical that resource-hungry, graphics-intensive applications like CAD and simulation can run optimally in a cloud-based architecture, which is so heavily dependent on the broad availability of high-speed bandwidth.
Despite lingering concerns, however, there is growing comfort level with the cloud model for other applications, which is prompting once-averse organizations to reconsider the model for PLM. It doesn't hurt that many of the leading PLM providers have stepped up to the plate, introducing cloud-based strategies of their own over the last year. In that vein, Dassault Systèmes, building on its Version 6 foundation, last year unveiled a multi-pronged cloud strategy that includes a deal with Amazon Web Services to provide the infrastructure-as-a-service; a strategic investment in Outscale, a startup software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider; and 3DStore, its own online store.