Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Autodesk 2014: How Will the Cloud Affect PLM?

Today, Autodesk presented a look at their 2014 portfolio along with a preview of their offerings for building, plant, product, and factory design. If you missed any of the information, you can check out the CIMdata write-up: Autodesk 2014 Design and Creation Suites Give Flexibility to Innovate More. Or you can look at more information on the Autodesk website.

Autodesk has also introduced a re-branding for all of their suites. You can see the new logo above. Don't be confused, it's not the logo for Google Drive; that wouldn't be right. Along with this new logo comes new capabilities that seek to leverage the advantages of the cloud, and tie these suites together in a way that will benefit customers. How this works in the future and in practice is still an open question. Autodesk said there are already millions of people taking advantage of their 2014 solutions.

This started me thinking about PLM in the cloud and how Autodesk might leverage this technology to make PLM more robust and ubiquitous throughout major corporations. I think Autodesk is taking the lead in this area as they roll out solutions that feature a cloud model, without making the cloud a big deal. Subscriptions to these kinds of tools are not new; Aras PLM and Arena Solutions have been PLM pioneers in this area. But, with Autodesk there is a considerable user base and a large breadth of solutions that makes this an interesting experiment to watch.

I want to see how large corporations will adopt PLM cloud technology to support their global organizations. Larger companies will likely already have some type of private cloud that they use for many activities. However, having the ability to use PLM applications that are designed to take advantage of the cloud could be a real payoff for PLM. These new tools would be smart enough to know when to use the cloud and when to use local resources. The user should never have to tell the application that they want to use "the cloud"; the applications should be smart enough to know about the available resources, and use them efficiently.

I am looking forward to seeing smarter PLM solutions that will take advantage of the could and any other available resources automatically. But, I think we shouldn't be continually talking about the cloud. That's like talking about what types of disk drives are used by IT, and where they are located. The bottom line is: we don't care! IT cares, but the PLM user doesn't care. Just give us all the resources we need and get us what we want when we want it. To PLM solutions providers: give us intelligent tools that anticipate what we will do, and make sure we have as much resource as we need to get our jobs done. I don't want to worry about the cloud, or federations, or multi-tenants, or anybody else living in my cloud.

I think the less we talk about the cloud the better. The cloud is often nothing more than a Red Herring. We get hung up on what it's all about, when all we really want is efficient, easy to use PLM. I hope the cloud is part of that equation, but let's move on.

What do you think?



  1. Excellent text, users don't want or need to know how it works, they just need a efficient tool to get the job done!

    The term 'cloud' is used so often just for the purpose of creating some hype for new systems, the bottom line is, will these new cloud based systems be more efficient in getting real work done easier.

  2. Minevist,

    Thanks for your comments. I have great hopes for the cloud and it's impact on easier-to-user PLM. Like a lot of things, it will take time to see how we can use it to make our jobs easier and more efficient.