What’s Your Reason for Not Using SaaS PLM?

  • Written By: Yu Chen
  • Published: February 22 2010

Without a doubt, software-as-a-service (SaaS) as a software delivery model has become a hot topic in the enterprise software field and has gained some noticeable shares in sectors such as customer relationship management (CRM). On the other hand, the product lifecycle management (PLM) industry has seen increasing awareness of SaaS. Oleg Shilovitsky, the most active PLM blogger, has talked about SaaS and cloud computing in some of his recent blog posts on Daily PLM Think Tank Blog. Mark Burhop form Siemens PLM Software also initiated a discussion on cloud computing in a recent blog post. However, SaaS remains as a limited option for PLM users as I see it.If someone is looking for SaaS PLM solutions, he/she will find that there are very few options—Arena and PLM+, which serve users in the engineering world, and a few more solutions (e.g., Yunique PLM and Zweave) which focus on fashion, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and so on. I can’t confirm that the above mentioned solutions all meet the SaaS definition considering that some may argue that SaaS has to be multi-tenant. However, these solutions are the closest to SaaS PLM even if some of them may not yet be multi-tenant.Will SaaS Be a Strong Delivery Model for PLM? Yes in the future, but not at the moment. In his blog post, Mark Burhop mentioned some concerns about PLM when delivered through the SaaS model:

  • Security: As a user, can I trust those who store my product data (my core intellectual property)?

  • Efficiency: Will it be efficient enough to transfer product data (often document-based, and sometimes quite heavy in terms of document volume) through the Internet?

Besides the above two reasons, I also found integration another factor that keeps PLM away from SaaS. As a matter of fact, PLM is the bridge between product design and many other endeavors that a company conducts. This means that a PLM system needs to integrate with both design tools (such as computer-aided design [CAD] systems) and other enterprise systems (such as enterprise resource planning [ERP]) in order to fully achieve the benefits of adopting PLM. Although technological advancements have been made to build better connections between PLM and CAD, and PLM and ERP-like systems, integration remains one of the biggest challenges in the on-premise PLM world, and it will remain a challenge for PLM delivered through the SaaS model.In addition, SaaS PLM functionality is not as comprehensive as major on-premise PLM suites for large organizations. Today’s SaaS PLM offerings are mainly competing with on-premise PLM solutions aiming at the small and medium business (SMB) market.

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