PLM This Week: Is PLM Better in the Cloud? Siemens Updates Azure Certification
Felix Nilsson posted on March 26, 2018 |

Is PLM Better in the Cloud? Siemens Updates Azure Certification

The PLM world is constantly evolving, not least in regards to the technology platforms that PLM software suites are distributed on. For a top-level player such as Siemens PLM, this means that the company offers cloud deployment options through Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure in addition to traditional on-premise installations.  

When it comes to Microsoft Azure, Siemens recently announced that it has updated the Azure certification of its TeamCenter PLM solution.

“Teamcenter already helps our users develop their own market-leading products. With the updated Teamcenter certification at Azure, our customers can implement PLM faster, with lower infrastructure costs, and scale up or down the installation as business needs arise," said Joe Bohman, VP of Lifecycle Collaboration Software at Siemens PLM.

Siemens PLM's cloud strategy is aimed at relocating Teamcenter capabilities beyond traditional delivery platforms and diversifying its cloud partner base. This, Siemens claims, will result in more cost-effective and flexible implementations. The latest Azure certification is one step in this direction, as it could give Siemens PLM’s customers a lower cost for PLM capabilities and an easier path to implementation.

What Are the Major Benefits of the Cloud?

With cloud hosting, connectivity is generally available everywhere, running at high speed on high capacity centralized servers. Other factors in favor of cloud deployments are the ability scale the capacity, both in terms of number of users and what apps you want to access. In addition, several other services can be added, such as the connection of service technicians or vehicles that can autonomously report on their status and send an alert when service is required.

On the other side of the coin are persistent worries about intellectual property (IP) and unique product data, and how safe these are in the cloud.

"There are still some concerns about this," says Siemens PLM’s Sverker Nordlander. “The security aspects are something that should not be taken lightly, but I dare to say that today, with heavy and complex encryption, it’s no longer a reason to refrain from adopting the advantages of the cloud platform.”

What is the value of an updated Azure platform certification, which Siemens has now implemented? Siemens’ long-term collaboration with Microsoft is intended to help customers understand the technology from both companies and, Siemens says,
What is the value of an updated Azure platform certification, which Siemens has now implemented? Siemens’ long-term collaboration with Microsoft is intended to help customers understand the technology from both companies and, Siemens says, "it can help them achieve their innovation and product delivery goals."

A Generational Issue

Nordlander adds that this is largely a generational issue. There is still another older generation in place who perceive a risk of losing control of data when it is placed in the cloud, so they choose to restrict their use to on-premise solutions.

“That's right, and it might take a generational shift before this problem is solved. Another possible factor is that companies with existing IT departments can throw a spanner in the works. Employees worry about whether their own jobs are threatened, and as a result, they are resistant to change. In general, however, more and more people seem to realize the value of allowing someone else to deliver the infrastructure needed for effective PLM support.”

What are the major benefits of the cloud? Connectivity is generally available everywhere, processing power is scalable and robust, scalability works both upwards and downwards both in terms of number of users and which apps you want to access.
What are the major benefits of the cloud? Connectivity is generally available everywhere, processing power is scalable and robust, scalability works both upwards and downwards both in terms of number of users and which apps you want to access.

New Ways of Paying for PLM 

Other consequences of cloud deployments are related to the purchasing of PLM solutions including CAD, simulation, PDM, ERP connections and more.

Traditionally, the PLM industry has been characterized by perpetual licenses, while the cloud brings a more diverse set of payment models. Instead of buying traditional licenses with a high initial license cost and maintenance updates, the rental model is increasingly gaining ground. Note that the cloud itself is not a requirement for a rental model, but the distribution form facilitates such a model more easily. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) are intimately connected to the cloud and provide convenience over both the short and long term through the benefits listed above.

The big players in the PLM market are getting with the program in various ways. In the case of Autodesk, this has meant a complete switch to the cloud rental model, which saw the removal of perpetual licenses from their portfolio. PTC has also offered cloud-based PLM for a long time, but has now decided to invest in a clear rental model, regardless of whether customers want their solutions in the cloud or as on-premise installations.

Others are proceeding more cautiously, which is mostly related to what the specific customer segments look like. The automotive and aerospace industries are traditionally more conservative, for example, and tend not to be comfortable releasing control of their data. This means that the cloud uptake is lower and more fragmented, but it’s still growing.

Siemens has a Flexible Model

Siemens has taken a more flexible and open approach, offering many different deployment options. Here the wishes of the customers are the guide, which sounds wise, although a wider range of deployment options might offer greater challenge when it comes to support.

Siemens’ two main offerings are:

  • Perpetual licenses are the traditional model with a large up front investment, followed by maintenance agreements at a lower cost level.
  • Rental or subscription-based licenses, which usually includes maintenance. The individual content of these contracts differ, but can range from annual to quarterly or monthly payments, depending on funding. These solutions can be run on premise or in the cloud.

There has been intense discussion among customers about the actual change in cost in connection with these new rental offers from all the major PLM developers. In general, however, there is an expectation that the rental model will become cheaper within the next four years, eventually undercutting the perpetual licenses in terms of cost.

The rental model also comes with added flexibility. It’s also not yet clear how infrastructure costs will be affected by the cloud delivery model, as opposed to continuing with their own, often large IT departments.

Another clear difference between the traditional model and the rental model is that if you stop paying, your PLM system could very well stop working.

The Value of the Azure Update

What is the value of an updated certification for Azure, which Siemens now has implemented? Siemens’ long-term collaboration with Microsoft is one aspect that helps customers understand the technology from both companies and, Siemens says, "it can help them achieve their innovation and product delivery goals."

Microsoft's head of Worldwide Manufacturing and Resources, Çağlayan Arkan, agrees, "Offering Siemens Teamcenter on the Microsoft Azure Platform offers customers a lot more flexibility and affordability when it comes to PLM implementations," Arkan says. “Azure also enables greater flexibility in Teamcenter implementation and maintenance, while reducing PLM ownership costs with reduced IT resources and infrastructure requirements.”

Sverker Nordlander adds, “As more companies embrace PLM in the cloud, we enable these customers to achieve their goals of lower ownership costs, ease of implementation and shorter time to achieve value of investment. With Teamcenter Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on Microsoft Azure, customers can spend less on infrastructure, get started faster and potentially achieve greater returns on PLM investments."


PTC Announces Creo 5

Earlier this week, PTC announced the release of the fifth version of its CAD software suite, Creo. In addition to a slew of general productivity enhancements, Creo 5 comes with a number of completely new capabilities that build on the existing strengths of the application, as well as improving areas that users felt needed more attention.

Even before the acquisition of platform developer ThingWorx in 2013, PTC had its eyes set on the Internet of Things (IoT) as an important driver in product development. In this vein, PTC acquired and integrated a number of technologies into its product portfolio that could help users create smart new products and bridge the physical and digital worlds.

Creo also received a number of these innovations, like AR/VR support and deep IoT integration through ThingWorx. But with the latest version of Creo, PTC seems to have gone back to its CAD roots, asking users what capabilities they want in the Creo app. So, what’s new here?

Apps for Machining and 3D Printing

Additive manufacturing is growing rapidly both in terms of market value and its power to help designers innovate. In Creo 5, PTC has added new functionality that allows users to design, optimize, print check and print parts within the Creo environment, without the need for other applications. Creo talks directly to the 3D printer, streamlining the process since it reduces the need to recreate models.

The new version also introduces two new modules in this area: the Creo Additive Manufacturing Plus Extension for Materialise extends the above capabilities to metal parts, making it possible to print production-grade parts directly from Creo. The extension also lets users access the Materialise online library of print drivers and profiles.

The new Creo Mold Machining module adds much needed high-speed machining capabilities optimized for molds, dies, electrodes and prototype machining, with support for 3-axis and 3+2 positioning methods.

Topology Optimization

The new release also includes the Creo Topology Optimization add-on, which automatically creates optimized designs with a few clicks. The user only has to enter a defined set of objectives and constraints, and the app will perform a finite element method simulation to generate the most optimal design.

Better Simulation Capabilities

PTC has also bolstered the simulation capabilities of Creo 5 with the Creo Flow Analysis extension. This is a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solution, which lets users simulate fluid flow issues directly within Creo.

PTC’s main selling point for this app is the fact that you can use it right in the CAD-solution, which creates better workflows and makes it easier to integrate analysis early in the development process. Another point is that the software is specifically made to be easy-to-use for designers who want fast and accurate results. 

As with all big software releases, the changes are too many to count—and this is also the case with Creo 5. The new version sports key productivity improvements to the user interface, geometry creation with sketch regions and volume helical sweeps. Other enhancements include improvements to surfacing using subdivision modeling, sheet metal design and the application of draft features involving rounds. PTC has also expanded its Unite technology by adding another module that supports bi-directional exchange of both parts and assemblies with Autodesk Inventor.


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