Open Source PLM?

Published 26 April 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: autodesk, design competition, lg, crowdsourcing, crowdspring, lg competition. lucky goldstar

Still recovering from the jetlag of attending COFES (Congress on the Future of Engineering Software) in Arizona but having flashbacks of some of the meetings we had. One of the stand-out sessions was with Simon Floyd of Microsoft, who is in charge of PLM strategy at the global giant. Simon introduced us to a company called Aras, which had decided to sack its entire sales force and turn its PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software into Open Source.

After much head scratching it seemed that Aras based it’s ‘Open’ PLM layer on all of Microsoft’s enterprise products, so companies that had already acquired Microsoft Enterprise products would have all the necessary products (like SharePoint) to assemble a PLM system, with the addition of the ‘as-many-users-as-you-want, no license fee, no nothing, honest’ Aras Innovator PLM Solution Suite.

While we didn’t get a demo of the software, the issue for us seemed to be that Microsoft was backing a specific PLM vendor,when its partnered with Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens PLM Software and many others. Pushing an Open Source alternative will certainly put some noses out of place. Even more when they hear that the Microsoft sales teams have all had a demo of Aras Innovator as a demonstration of adding value to the Microsoft Enterprise package.

I’m probably the last person on the planet to find anything about PLM interesting but many of the big CAD vendors have big investments in getting customers to spend big in this area. Now they have to get over the hurdle of what the free, or almost free software can do.


Hi Martyn, I enjoy your blog a lot. One minor correction, Sharepoint is not required. Aras Innovator will also use the filesystem for storage. Tom Gill

Posted by gillt on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

Hi Martyn, I certainly enjoyed meeting with you and Al at COFES. It’s always a pleasure. One point I would like to clarify is how we represent partners, or as you put it, back them. In this case, we introduced you to Aras because we’ve jointly developed a proof-of-concept for how business intelligence can be utilized for decision making outside the engineering domain (and outside PLM systems where appropriate) using SharePoint and the newly included PerformancePoint services. To this end, our sales force now has an additional demo that newly includes Aras. What this means is that alongside the demos they have with Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Dassault Systemes, MSC Software, PTC, Siemens PLM, etc they now also have Aras, and I suspect that in the near future we will also add SpaceClaim to our arsenal. Our strategy is to demonstrate the value of our products within the context of our partner’s solution offerings. While I understand that the PLM space is perhaps a little too dreary for you, I will gladly setup a demo with any of our partners should you wish to venture into the process side of the house. Finally I did enjoy hearing you speak of Apple’s challenges in the market which I agree with, and it will be interesting to see whether or not their price premium will be accepted broadly in the CAx space and whether or not that makes Apple a viable platform for the likes of our partners. Cheers, Simon PLM Technology Strategy Microsoft

Posted by Simon Floyd on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

Hi Martyn, The SharePoint connection may also come as a result of confusion. The presentation and demo that Simon and Peter were showing included Actify’s SpinFire solution, which also has a SharePoint-based element called DesignShare. It – like Innovator – is built entirely on the Microsoft stack. In fact, the Innovator download includes some of the Actify solution as well – you can find more details on that here: Between the three of us (Actify, Aras, and Microsoft) we have something that addressed both the structured and unstructured collaboration needs of manufacturers, at Cost Of Ownership/Implementation Risk levels that are truly remarkable. Dave Opsahl Actify, Inc.

Posted by David Opsahl on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

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