A few weeks ago, I ran across What cloud PLM cannot do for you and was intrigued. I’m always interested in hearing about what PLM can or cannot do. If you’ve ever searched for anything related to PLM/PDM, chances are you’ve run across Oleg’s blog.
Ultimately, he concluded:
With much lower upfront cost and simple deployment, [cloud computing] opens PLM doors for many companies that never thought [they could] buy and implement PLM systems before. However, when it comes to implementation and services, cloud PLM won’t do much different from on-premise PLM systems. You still need to implement it.
I don’t know that I agree that the implementation cost between on-premise and cloud PLM is a wash, but otherwise there’s nothing that struck me about the article as outrageous. But when I got to the comments, I ran into the same old objections to cloud-based implementations that are based in emotion and not reality.
That got me thinking. While I don’t think it’s useful to break things down point by point (this isn’t a forum), I do think it’s useful to follow-up with a little cloud reality.
The Cloud isn’t Mysterious
When implementing enterprise software, there are always several options. They range from implementing inside your "four walls" to implementing entirely in a cloud located in someone else’s "four walls". Yes, there are hybrids and other permutations. No, I’m not going to make your head spin with the details.
What’s attractive about a cloud implementation?
- A common reason to look at the cloud is to minimize the need for IT support. Maybe your IT staff is too small and already overworked or maybe they are unhelpful.
- A cloud service provider will set up the server, provide normal server management including backups.
- A cloud service provider will manage updates.
- A cloud service provider usually guarantees some level of uptime.
Today, cloud service providers have lots of options available. You can choose from several options based on price:
- An inexpensive option is to share a server. Another company or companies will have their software running on the server where your software is implemented. If you don’t need extreme customization, this is the way to go.
- It costs more to have your own dedicated server. You can select the processor speeds, the size of the RAM, the size of the storage, etc.
Let’s Talk About Security
Security is typically the elephant in the room. Security is an issue whether your software runs inside your company’s data center or if it runs in the cloud. When you are running inside your “four walls”, you are responsible for all security issues. When you are running in the cloud, the service provider is responsible for security. Talk to your vendor about your requirements. But also make sure that your security requirements are real and not emotional.
Moving Past Emotional Objections
When I discuss cloud options with people, I like to uncover any emotional arguments early. If there are none, then I proceed to their specific requirements. At that point, we can look at the total costs for taking one path or another. Sometimes the cloud is the right choice and sometimes it isn’t.
Companies implementing solutions in the cloud are becoming more and more common. They are also becoming more secure. As with choosing software, I would start with your requirements and let that drive the decision to the cloud or not.
Every class of technology undergoes an era of innovation and disruption. For PDM systems, we’re in such an era today. Lifecycle Insights' Principal Analyst Chad Jackson put together the perfect buyer's guide to help you weigh your options.