Yes, There’s Value in the Cloud. And it’s Way More Than Just Fancy Hosting.
Right now, the buzz in the business world is all about cloud enablement - hosting, storage, etc., and establishing the infrastructure of the cloud. Frankly, I don’t see what all the excitement is about. It’s not new. Is it necessary? Perhaps. But it’s hardly transformational. If all you’re doing is moving your servers out of your data center and into someone else’s data center then how much value is that going to get you at the end of the day? In my opinion, if what you see in the cloud is a new data center, then you’re missing the big picture.
There is value in the cloud. Big time. And here’s where I see it… While everyone is focused on cloud infrastructure, another really important thing is going on – cloud-based datasets are growing, becoming aggregated and available as Web services. This is happening quite rapidly. They’re growing as I write this. I believe the REAL promise of the cloud comes into play when we move away from isolated resources to master information sources and use them in ways previously not possible. Connecting the cloud into our processes is where we’re headed. And it will change the way we all do business.
So what I am talking about specifically? Combining data, analytics and services in the cloud and bringing them into the corporate PLM. These are not browser-based services, they’re application based. And yes, consumer apps like Yelp and Zillow are doing cute things like that today, but that’s not where the big dollar impact is. The real value - and the REAL transformation - comes from connecting cloud resources into a business environment.
In a corporate process where cloud connections are made, the people who use ERP, PLM, CRM, etc., will have seamless and secure connections to massive cloud-based data sets that are made available through commercial providers and public sources. As these data sets continue to expand and become aggregated on a global scale, referencing and retrieval during the enterprise workflow will enable users to search, access and bring information to the point of use. You will be able to draw on highly specialized expertise without having those people on staff and you can include them in your workflow with secure need-to-know access. They will truly be part of your process and you will have control of the system of record. It’s similar to an “enterprise mash-up” that brings together disparate data sources to provide the right data to the people who need it, precisely when they need it.
Here’s how it works: A commercial airliner has about 6 million parts in it and half of them are fasteners. As a supplier or a subcontractor, you have to hire your own PhDs to analyze the fit, torque, sheer strength, tolerances, etc., on every fastener in your design. Your team is good, but their job is intermittent and they only have your data to go on. What if, instead of relying on a single person in your company that may or may not have the specific expertise needed for every type of analysis, you could have each fastener’s characteristics reviewed by a team of experts with an extensive knowledge base, deep expertise and lots of historical data at their disposal …and you only paid for the analysis performed?
Even better - what if, when your design engineer adds a fastener to a product’s Bill of Materials, he is automatically prompted to perform a compatibility analysis? This is what being cloud connected provides. And you can apply it to a wide range of functions in the business workflow. Simulation on complex structures is a great example. It’s extremely complicated, wildly expensive and requires massive computing resources. Global companies can avoid those costs when they use the cloud to connect with outsourcing partners for BPO-like product engineering services that do the simulation analysis.
Can your company do this? Of course. In fact, everything an enterprise needs is already here. Open standards, web services, private clouds - all there today. And open source models such as Aras PLM provide good business software with no additional licensing fees, removing a major barrier of entry for large cloud deployments.
What if you’re a service provider? What’s in the cloud for you? For service providers with extensive knowledgebases, specialized skill sets, etc., the cloud + open source PLM offers a way to embed your services directly into the global product engineering market place.
The bottom line is that the cloud is much, much more than a hosting environment. It gives us a way to integrate and network our businesses as never before. And Aras is leading the way, bringing a large community of data, analysis and services to the engineering desktop and into the workflow – to the benefit of users and service providers alike.
Mon, Oct 18 2010 9:27 AM