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Technological Options for PLM on the cloud

Thanks to Oleg Shilovitsky for this story

Cloud is hyping in 2012. Coming Facebook IPO can only supercharge the future of cloud computing. Last year Autodesk announcement about Nexus 360 cloud PLM created a confirmation that large CAD / PLM vendors will be interested to leverage the power of cloud. Two weeks before AU2011, during DSCC 2011, Dassault Systems confirmed their plan to continue development and investment in their Enovia cloud platform.

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It takes time, but economic of cloud computing is too good to be ignored by CIO. At the time consumer market already embraced cloud computing via multiple store (but not only) options like Dropbox etc., CIOs are just coming to discover it. Navigate to the following Gigaom article – CIOs come around to cloud storage. Here is my favorite passage:

“The sheer volume and availability needs are pushing cloud storage to the forefront,” he said. They have to look at the economics of cloud compared to the high-cost, high-maintenance data center storage model, he said… In short, even the most risk-averse C-level information executives are coming to realize that if cloud storage isn’t in their current plan, it will be in the near future.

At the same time, I can hear voices of customers and vendors about the fact cloud computing is still confusing. So, in today’s post, I decided to put some practical technological options about how PLM (and not only) can be delivered on cloud today from the technological standpoint.

Amazon

Amazon is Amazon. Flexible, public, cloud. Period. It is a perfect virtual environment with dollar meter. You pay for what you use. Despite few outages, AWS is pretty stable and can provide you a reliable base as a platform for cloud PLM. Most of PLM vendors talking these days about cloud are exploring Amazon as a first option. Amazon also provides probably the best shortcut between existing PLM architectures and future cloud models.

Microsoft Azure

Azure is a different type of cloud animal. If you’re familiar with terminology, Azure is PaaS (opposite to AWS, which is IaaS). I can see many advantages of Azure. It is single development platform, tools, multi-language support. Another positive side of Azure is that Microsoft can much easier force developers follow specific rules that can prevent application from misbehave. The perception of vendors and developers is that Azure is closed platform. I’m not saying it is true, but this is what I think many people assume when they think about “Azure cloud”.

OpenStack

This is a very interesting option. OpenStack pretends to become “an Android of the cloud“. Open Stack achieved critical mass to become a reality. OpenStack is IaaS environment currently supported by Rackspace and NASA. Technologically, OpenStack is a combination of storage and computing library. The easiest way to start with OpenStack is to use it on Rackspace. OpenStack objective is to convert cloud into commodity, which can be beneficial for many consumers of the technology. I can see an interesting option for OpenStack and PLM. OpenStack provides a very open and economic way to establish mini-cloud centers. It can be a foundation for cloud services available for large companies having concerns about public cloud.

Cloud Databases

This is an interesting option for PLM developers. Fundamentally, PDM/PLM is all about a database today. To move PLM database on the cloud, can be an interesting option. Read my post few months ago – Will Database on the cloud supercharge PLM for Small Companies? There are few providers to be mentioned here. I’d be starting from Amazon RDS. Another option is to use databases services created by enterprise software vendors – Oracle Cloud Databases, Salesforce.com Database and few others.

Don’t Forget IBM big blue

Big Blue IBM is also going to the cloud. However, IBM is doing it differently. It called IBM Smart Cloud. You can learn here about how IBM suggests to use these services here. In a nutshell, IBM idea is to wrap whatever you have with Tivoli cloud services. IBM is attacking cloud from a software perspective and looking how to build a cloud umbrella beyond your existing data center. IBM clearly is looking how to attract “enterprise dollars” from AWS, OpenStack and Azure.

What is my conclusion? I believe we can see lots of misunderstandings with the cloud computing in a near future. CAD / PLM vendors and service providers will be able to balance in order to dance on both sides of the solutions – on premise and on the cloud. Understanding of technological options is a good foundation towards reasonable decisions about the cloud in 2012. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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