PLM and FOSS, What PLM Seekers Think?

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Since Aras decided to stop asking for license fees for Aras Innovator [evaluate the product]by switching to the business model that the vendor calls enterprise open source, , free and open source software (FOSS) product lifecycle management (PLM) as a topic has been talked more frequently than before. On his blog site Daily PLM Think Tank, Oleg Shilovitsky has touched upon open source PLM from different angles in more than 10 blog posts. Comments to these posts are also very interesting to read. To join in the discussion, I decided to dig into the software selection statistics captured at Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) to see what the users (more precisely, PLM seekers) think of FOSS PLM.

The Acceptance of FOSS PLM

Based on thousands of PLM initiatives recorded at TEC, below are the percentages of PLM seekers who chose the option “the software is licensed under an official free or Open Source license”, from 2005 to 2009, and in the first half of 2010 (figure 1).


Figure 1. Percentages of PLM seekers thinking FOSS PLM is considerable

One interesting aspect in figure 1 is the surge of the percentages in 2007 and 2008. Considering that Aras switched to the enterprise open source model in early 2007, I think the significant increase should have something to do with the availability of FOSS PLM on the market. Prior to Aras’ enterprise open source offerings, there were no actionable options for FOSS PLM seekers.

The Demand of Running PLM in FOSS Environment

Another aspect I’d like to present is the percentages of FOSS operating system (OS) and database being required when people think of selecting their PLM systems, regardless whether a PLM seeker is planning to have a FOSS PLM or not (figure 2).


Figure 2. PLM seekers’ preference on FOSS server platform and database

Figure 2 demonstrates the demand of running PLM systems on top of FOSS OS and database. Please note that a PLM seeker may choose multiple options for OS and database. On average, for the past five and a half years, each PLM seeker selected 1.6 options for OS and 1.8 for database. If you lay figure 1 on top of figure 2, you will find that 2008 was the year that PLM seekers had the most interest in FOSS, be it acquiring FOSS PLM or running PLM in the FOSS environment.

Should FOSS PLM Run in FOSS Environment?

In his blog post PLM and Open Source Big Games, Oleg wrote that Aras was “somewhat not balanced” in leveraging FOSS OS and database. In the product note for Aras Innovator, I also recommended that Aras should build more connections with other FOSS players for future growth. Now the question is, if an organization decides to adopt a FOSS PLM system, how likely it wants to implement the system on top of FOSS OS and database? Let’s do the same analysis as we did in figure 2 but focusing only on PLM seekers who think FOSS PLM is considerable (figure 3).


Figure 3. FOSS PLM seekers’ preference on FOSS server platform and database

It’s not a surprise to see higher percentages in figure 3 than in figure 2 since users who accept FOSS PLM should have higher acceptance to FOSS OS and database, in general. Please note that for this group of PLM seekers, an average seeker selected 2.3 options for OS and 2.6 for database. More interesting are the significant drops in 2009 and the first half of 2010. It seems that, recently, FOSS PLM seekers are less concerned about FOSS OS and database. Does it mean that Aras’ exclusivity with Microsoft is getting more user buy-in? Probably. Our data suggests that for the same group of FOSS PLM seekers, the percentages of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server went up in 2009 and the first half of 2010.

In sum, FOSS PLM has already had considerable acceptance (around 20 percent for the past two and a half years) from users. For users who want to have the combination of FOSS PLM + proprietary OS and database, Aras Innovator is the option. As for users who want to have the combination of FOSS PLM + FOSS OS + FOSS database, I’m not aware of any solution available at the moment. If you’re a PLM vendor/developer that supports (or intends to support) this combination, please do share your information with us.
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