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.