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Autodesk puts PLM in the cloud

Autodesk previewed its new PLM product at Autodesk University in Las Vegas, with much emphasis on getting full value from the software set, something it contends traditional PLM hasn’t delivered.


November 30, 2011
by PLANT STAFF, from Autodesk University

LAS VEGAS: Product lifecycle management (PLM) is no longer just for the big guys with the deep pockets. Autodesk Inc. previewed its new PLM product at Autodesk University in Las Vegas Nov. 29, with much emphasis on getting full value from the software set, something it contends traditional PLM hasn’t delivered.

PLM is essentially enterprise-wide gathering and management of all the data related to a product from inception to disposal, integrating people, processes and business systems. Yet for Autodesk, a global developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software based in San Rafael, Calif., it has been too expensive for regular folks; more for the big companies, though even for them, hugely costly and not particularly digestible. It’s geared to engineering, difficult to deploy and too complicated.

In fact, you can see Autodesk CEO Carl Bass diss PLM on a You Tube video posted a few years ago, where he says, among other things, “[It’s] bitter medicine…No one wakes up and says this is a great system, this is what makes us more competitive, this is what makes it fun to go to work, this is what gives us design innovation…”

Why is Autodesk officially stepping into the PLM world? “The issue has been a technical one and previous business models haven’t been there to attain the full value of PLM, ” said Stephen Bodnar, vice-president of enterprise data and lifecycle management, at the launch.

And that’s been an issue for Autodesk’s customers. Bodnar said the company surveyed 300 of them and most believe they’ve been missing out, largely because of the cost.

Bodnar wasn’t prepared to talk price points at the launch, but he offered a comparison to traditional PLM. Old way, providing access to 200 users across an enterprise would cost almost $6 million. Autodesk’s solution applied to this scenario adds up to about $500,000 for implementation, maintenance and subscription.

“Our approach to PLM is a sharp contrast to the decades-old technology in the market today,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice-president of the manufacturing industry group.

Indeed, the product (part of Autodesk 360), was developed from the ground up and attempts to fill in the value gaps. You’ll find it in “the cloud” and it’s a service; you don’t own it, you pay for what you use. It’s faster, easily configurable, scalable and it covers a product’s complete lifecycle, including elements such as manufacturing, engineering, supply management, quality management, compliance management, sales and marketing, maintenance service, operations, customer management, planning, R&D, SDM and end of life.

Autodesk 360 for PLM will include:

• Autodesk 360 Nexus. It’s cloud-based and makes PLM business applications available to users anytime, anywhere.

• Autodesk Vault. Available now, it provides on-premise product data management software for engineering workgroups to organize, manage and track designs, engineering bills-of-materials and change processes.

• Autodesk Buzzsaw. Cloud-based supplier collaboration allows users to securely exchange designs and documents with external partners and distributed teams, regardless of their location using any platform, smart phone to i-device.
Autodesk’s answer to PLM will be available during Q1 of 2012.

Until recently, says Autodesk, PLM has been the near-exclusive domain of large businesses, mainly due to the high cost and expertise related to deploying and maintaining the systems.

“No company should be excluded from the benefits of PLM technology,” said Kross.

Click here for information on Autodesk 360 PLM.