Nuage: The First Social PLM System?
Chad Jackson posted on March 14, 2012 |
Well, looks like we've got PLM systems coming out of the woodwork nowadays. We had Autodesk launch PLM360. We also had Kenesto preparing theirs for for release. And yet, now we have another one: Nuage. But this one feels a little bit different from the other ones. In this post, I'll provide a little background for Nuage, explain what capabilities it provides and then provide my own commentary and analysis. Ready! Set! Go!

Background

Nuage was founded in October 2011 in Mission Viejo, CA. Many of the leaders of the company are longstanding members of the industry including the CEO and President Chris Atkins, who founded Metafore which was acquired by Kalypso, CMO Ron Close, who led international marketing organizations in Siemens PLM and Autodesk, and SVP Business Development Wilma Flanagan, who was a partner with Kalypso and other leadership roles at CSC and Unisys.

Capabilities Provided

Nuage is split out into three distinct offerings which share a common architecture and user interaction: Cafe, Catalyst and Junction.

Nuage Cafe

To get started, here's a list of the capabilities Nuage Cafe provides.

  • It's free or low cost and in the cloud. Literally, anyone can get an account with a 2GB limit. Could be other people in your company, your suppliers, your customers or anyone else. It's like Facebook or LinkedIn that way. If you want more, it's $20 per month per additional 10GB of space.
  • If you use Facebook or Linkedin, this will look familiar. And while that makes seem uncomfortable, it's a good thing. There's very little adjustment to the user interface. Basically, you already know how to use this type of system.
  • You connect with other people in Nuage. Again, could be anyone. Maybe other engineers in your company. Might be folks from procurement or manufacturing. Might be someone from suppliers, customers or anywhere else. Again, it's similar to LinkedIn or Facebook in that manner.
  • You can check-in and check-out individual files. Think individual documents, maybe a single CAD model and the like. You can manage versions and iterations of that file. No one else can see files you check-in based on default security settings.
  • You can create and participate in groups. These groups might be composed of people inside your company that are working on an individual project. It could be you and several engineers at a supplier. It could be any combination of anyone you know.
  • You can share your files. You could share it to a group composed of other people. You might share it with someone else individually. Again, your files are automatically exposed to anyone else. You explicitly choose to share it with others or groups.
  • You can comment on files. It's basically like the comment discussion on a status update in Facebook. This turns into a stream, along with other activities, that you can keep up to date on. Comments could be amongst a group or just against a single file.
  • You can message other users. If you are connected to someone, then you can send them a message. Again, a lot like Facebook.

 Nuage Cafe will be available in March.

Nuage Catalyst

At this next tier of service, which you can purchase for $75 per month, there are a number of more advanced capabilities you gain.

  • You can work with more complex file structures. If you're familiar with CAD, you know that an assembly often requires individual part files. As a result, you have a network of interdependent files that need to be kept together. Nuage Catalyst provides that functionality.
  • You can work with Bills of Materials. Obviously, this is a core capability if you are manufacturing products.
  • You can work with an out-of-the-box change management process. Pretty much every manufacturer runs a change process. Nuage Catalyst will come with a standardized change process. If this doesn't work for you, then...
  • You can build your own workflows. There will be a workflow builder where you can piece together and customize your own processes.
  • You can manage your tasks. Individual users could very well be involved in multiple processes, so they need a means of managing their tasks. Nuage Catalyst provides that capability.

The basic idea here is the folks at Nuage want to provide the 10% of PLM functionality that everyone needs at this level. Those who need more, which is a small few, can take advantage of Nuage Junction. Nuage Catalyst will be available in the June / July timeframe.

Nuage Junction

What would be left for this last tier of service? This is where things get fairly interesting. Nuage Junction provides several interesting capabilities.

  • You can build your own process "adapters." Basically, this level of service provides a solution builder tool to let you build your own special functionality. It might be pulling data from another system. It might be executing some functional computations used in a workflow. This interface is meant to be simple and easy to use, something like visual basic.
  • You can buy process "adapters." These "adapters" aren't meant to be exclusively used by one company. They can sell them through something akin to an app store.

 Why provide this capability? It can essentially enable consulting providers as well as larger manufacturers to build out there own processes. Nuage Junction will be available in the Fall.

Commentary and Analysis

So there's the rundown of the functionality that Nuage will provide. But what does it mean? How is it different? Here are my thoughts.

All the Benefits of the Cloud

Let's get this one out of the way first. Providing PLM as a service from the cloud offers certain advantages. When you purchase the service, it's instantly on so you can use it right away. It also means that stakeholders from many other organizations can access and participate in that same system because its not locked away behind a firewall on-premise. This stands as an advantage for Nuage over the on-premise PLM systems that are offered today. However, a host of old and new providers are hosting their PLM systems in the cloud including Arena Solutions, Autodesk's PLM360 and Kenesto.

Search and Connect with Your Colleagues

The place where Nuage diverges from those other three PLM providers lies in the implications of the system's infrastructure. In a number of cloud PLM offerings, the system is instanced, meaning that each organization gets their own workspace and can then invite others to join.

The Nuage approach is different. Anyone can join one big party through Nuage Cafe and even interact with those that use Nuage Catalyst and Nuage Junction. It's not composed of individual instanced workspaces, but one big system. In that way, it actually mirrors the big community that exists in Facebook or LinkedIn. If you need to connect with a colleague in Nuage for product development reasons, you simply search for them, connect and start working together. It's hard to say at this point, but that feels far easier and less restricting.

Social Integrated into PLM

Let's be honest. We've been talking about social computing in product development for a few years now. I've seen people adopting it to support crowd sourcing initiatives, but few adopting it to facilitate internal communications in the heart of the development cycle. In my opinion, there's a lot of other issues that undermine the advancement of social computing in this context. And if it is a separate capability, then it is too easily set aside for later. And that later effort simply never comes because it is deprioritized every time.

Nuage, however, is different in that regard. The social capabilities are integrated into the core of the system. It's actually a foundational enabler for what we consider core PLM functionality today. Want to share a file? Connect with the person first. Once shared, that person then sees the stream of social activities related to that file. There's no separate system to turn on or module to install. It just happens. And I think that's the way that social computing in product development will succeed. Nuage is the only one to date that has taken this approach.

Conclusions and Questions

Let's recap before I get to questions.

  • Nuage Cafe is free for anyone and everyone up to 2GB. After that, it's $20 per month for each additional 10GB. You can connect with other colleagues and form groups. It lets you check-in and check-out files as well as share and comment on them.
  • Nuage Catalyst lets you work with complex file structures, Bills of Materials and an out-of-the-box change management process. You can also build out your own workflows. Users can manage their tasks from multiple workflows.
  • Nuage Junction provides a development environment to build out "adapters" that provide specialized functionality. You can use your own "adapters'" or purchase other's "adapters" through an app store.

 What do I think?

  • Nuage offers the advantages of a cloud PLM system over on-premise ones. However, those advantages are the same as those offered by Arena Solutions, Autodesk and Kenesto.
  • Nuage is one open system, so it is easy to find and then connect with your colleagues that might be inside or outside your company.
  • Social computing capabilities are integrated into the core of Nuage. I have doubts that separate individual systems or modules will be pursued heavily because they are often deprioritized because of other initiatives. Core integration of social computing capabilities probably offer the most feasible path to successful use. And that's the key differentiator for Nuage.

 Well, those are my thoughts. Ready for questions?

  • There is a real delineation between on-premise and cloud PLM systems. Will we see a split between these two types of systems or is this the future direction of the PLM industry?
  • Do you think social computing in product development will have success as an independent system or module? Or do you think it needs to be incorporated into core PLM systems to be successful?

 Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

Recommended For You