Access and Feeds

PLM and SaaS: Still Early-Adopter Territory

By Dick Weisinger

While enterprise software is gradually making a presence in the cloud, the rate of migration hasn’t been uniform across all categories of software.  On-demand CRM under the lead of SaaS-pioneer, for example, is now more than 20 percent of the CRM market, and the ratio of on-site to SaaS installation is continuing to skew towards SaaS.

But other segments like SaaS PLM have not seen much growth.  That may be slowly changing.  In mid-February, Dassault Systemes announced that their ENOVIA lifecycle management PLM platform will be available on demand.  Solidworks CEO Jeff Ray said that users will share data “just like people today share photos with family and friends.”

Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes described the evolution of CAD/PLM over the last 30 years.  The ’80s saw a transition from 2D to 3D modeling.  The ’90s was all about digital mockups, and the last decade emphasized PLM.  He said that in the next decade that 3D worlds will be connected by communities.  “Our dream for the next ten years is to use 3D everywhere to invent and imagine,” he said.

But enovia looks to be the only one of many.  Other major PLM vendors haven’t  picked up yet on SaaS.  For example, a Siemens blog describes putting PLM in the cloud as an “interesting topic for 2010″, but cautions about problems with security, “missing levels of control”, and bandwidth concerns of moving PLM data between local and remote networks.

Other reasons for concern that have held back the migration of PLM to SaaS include problems with integration — integration of both CAD design tools and other enterprise software systems, like ERP.

So while the move of PLM to SaaS is probably an inevitable one, and while PLM and cloud computing is sure to be a topic of discussion across the PLM industry throughout 2010, PLM running in a SaaS environment looks to be quite a ways off before becoming a general trend.  Perhaps the Solidworks announcement will bootstrap an interest in the industry.

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