In yet a further retreat away from long-time design tool partner Dassault Systemes, IBM announced a partnership with Siemens PLM Software for a new set of PLM applications and consulting offerings based on Siemens' Teamcenter PLM platform and IBM's middleware and service-oriented architecture (SOA) framework.
Siemens' forthcoming Teamcenter 8.0 comes ready to use with IBM's Product Development Information Framework (PDIF), a set of extensions built on SOA for integrating multiple applications, and comes preconfigured with the WebSphere middleware software and DB2 database management system. Siemens and IBM officials claim it is the only PLM platform to be so tightly integrated with IBM's SOA and integration architecture and for the first time, doesn't force customers to choose between the two environments.
The pair, which have been actively working together for more than a year, say the relationship is all about strengthening PLM as an enterprise platform. "This is not just a reseller deal," says Mark Hanny, IBM's vice president ISV alliances. "This is about the transformation of PLM beyond the engineering workstation. The central theme is about how companies can connect with other companies and suppliers around the world."
Teamcenter has historically been configured with the Oracle database or with SQL Server. For over 20 years, IBM has partnered with Dassault on PLM and CAD tools, reselling its Enovia PLM platform and CATIA 3-D CAD tool. Despite the new Siemens agreement, IBM will continue to resell Dassault products, officials say.
As companies look to PLM to streamline their business processes around product development and innovation, integration of systems becomes a thornier problem â one this latest alliance can help resolve, according to both IBM and Siemens officials. Specifically, by offering Teamcenter preconfigured with the IBM blue stack of technology, the companies aim to reduce the heavy-lifting typically required to get PLM systems to talk to other key enterprise platforms. Moreover, by creating such a tightly-coupled environment, companies will be able to focus more on business process transformation with PLM as opposed to the nuts and bolts of integration work, officials say. "Traditionally, the client buys the middleware and the application and they figure out how to make it work together with consulting help," says Rob Thomas, IBM's worldwide vice president of business development for information management. "(With this approach) the biggest benefit is to the client. Overnight, it changes the expectations around deployment and ongoing maintenance."
Those savings are indeed important, but only for those customers that buy into the IBM SOA. "If an end user buys into the IBM stack and Siemens software solution at the Teamcenter level, they're ultimately going to save some money that they'd have had to spend to do the integration themselves," says Ken Versprille, PLM research director for CPD Associates, a market research firm focusing on product development.
As part of their relationship, IBM and Siemens will also optimize Siemens PLM Software applications that can run IBM server and storage devices as well as collaborate on joint sales and consulting engagements.