For the last four years Agile PLM users have been in a sort of limbo about the longevity of their application. There have been a lot of rumors, user uncertainty and vendor silence. For better or worse, the situation is coming to a head. And again, for better or worse, you are being forced into making an important decision. I want to make sure you are ready for it.
In a 2019 interview with Oracle's CIO, Larry Ellison, he discussed the layoff's that had been turning many heads. He explains how some of Oracle’s businesses are “melting away and we just don’t care. We are focused on our star products… now driving our top line higher”.
What we know
2017 - Introduction of Release Update Packs
(colloquially known as "RUPs")
Oracle moved Agile PLM to a Release Update Pack “RUP” approach of product update – essentially a bug fix with “as-necessary” feature additions for the latest two active versions of Agile. Support documentation indicates that Agile 9.3.5 and 9.3.6 are now scheduled to end Premier Support in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Timing for Extended Support is undetermined. The future direction for Oracle lies with Cloud offerings which for PLM are “Product Development (PD) and a few associated additions for innovation, product development, and project management and quality – all with the moniker of “cloud” on the end of the name.
Oracle has in its defense made no secret of its future direction. It is, and will be about the cloud. While the bad news may be that the on-premise Agile PLM’s end clock is almost out of battery, the good is that PLM as well as an entire supporting – and integrated - suite of supply chain applications architecture specifically for the cloud are now available.
Based on the above, you might come to the conclusion that Agile PLM has indeed run its course.
What to do? It depends…
Agile PLM owners who may be considering Oracle Cloud might ask "Do I stay on a proven and mature on-premise PLM application that is not keeping up with the market and industry changes? Or where ROI is proven or do I catch the train to the latest technology, knowing that perhaps some critical functionality is still developing?"
If you’re open to considering a vendor move, add an additional dimension of complexity. Changing vendors will impose additional cost, time, pain and risk related to migrating and learning curve, but there are cases where it may be worth it.
A move from Agile PLM will have to happen – Agile will no longer innovate. Each Agile client must evaluate their situation to determine when to pull the trigger. It becomes a sliding scale of pain tolerance and you must ask yourself, “what is acceptable and at what cost before I must bite the bullet and migrate?” The graphic below illustrates a sliding scale of pain:
There are some common-sense next steps forward:
- Develop a strategy that leverages an ROI. Determine what is working and returning value in Agile PLM versus the cost and effort of any alternative. A timeline should be short to mid-term in order to mitigate long term loss of productivity.
- For Agile PLM owners still on support, maximizing value may include upgrading to the latest version (9.3.6) to gain full support value. Subsequently, begin an evaluation for a migration to the next generation PLM. This creates a bit of a time cushion in order to evaluate Oracle’s next generation cloud offering against other competitive options whether on-premise or cloud.
- Consider where the future is taking PLM. There are many innovations underway or planned that compliment PLM and/or general supply chain functionality that can extend the viable life, ROI, and functional value well into the future.
Cloud vs. On-Premise
All major PLM’s are on board in one definition or another (hosted to true SaaS) with Cloud as the platform of the future. Smaller standalone solutions like Arena, PropelPLM and Omnify are only offered via SaaS/Cloud. The traditional major PLM vendors like PTC, Teamcenter, Aras, Enovia and others also all have a cloud offering. Some, like PTC for instance, will continue to support and offer either option with duplicating application functionality even though the Cloud offering is re-architected for true SaaS.
This is an emerging solution to an old concept whereby a common framework allows free flow of data in an integrated manner to flow throughout the product definition and life cycle. Product and related data can be acted upon by one of many applications whether they be CAD on one end of the PLM experience or Augmented Reality (AR) and everything in between that the supply chain can come up with. This integrated approach promises better data validation, access and accuracy of all enterprise information, and development of the concept of a Digital Twin: digitally representing the physical object through the life cycle. It is a framework for data sharing and communication that falls squarely into the Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and data exchange definition.
Interactive user experience
New generations of people are using products in ways never thought of when originally conceived. These new scenarios are driven by end user application use patterns in some cases gathered in real time and fed back. The quicker a company can react the faster to market a game changing functionality can be incorporated and the more market share to be gained. This is Big Data and the Digital Twin applied to discrete manufactured product.
While some of these are concept others are currently active and in practice. Either way you want something that will enable you to plug innovation into the equation.
Get Someone In Your Corner
I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention that we are here to help you work through the PLM transitioning time you are in to help you come out on top.
Several of our Agile PLM clients have worked through these decisions and have come out on top. In all cases, clients maximize value while managing and minimizing pain as they make the transition.
Here is what has worked for them:
- Evaluate motivation & pain
- Determine the best road map with timing
- ID path – Move with Oracle and their PLM Cloud or choose a new vendor meeting future innovative criteria needs
- Buy time by upgrading to the latest Agile PLM version 9.3.6 in order to keep all h/w and s/w compatibilities safe, ensure bug fixes/patches and any application improvements that may come out in RUPs
- Domain offers a support program that provides an upgrade to the latest version and provides a managed service for Agile PLM application support. We free the client from further investment into old technology in order to focus on future technologies for both personnel and application infrastructure.
- Budget/Plan/Execute the move to next generation PLM
The key benefit to this approach is to maximize ROI on a mature PLM while securing time to make the best decision for the client over the next year or two. This strategy reduces risk resulting from hastiness and encourages corporate alignment for maximum longevity of the next investment. Costs are reduced by creating a more reliable plan that can thoroughly be examined for efficiency.
Domain offers a free discovery session to talk strategy with our clients the strategy. Domain will provide a high-level understanding to enumerate and quantify the effort and value involved.