9 Reasons Why the Cloud Makes PLM Better

Macbook and desktop on a desk

We’re a cloud PLM company, so needless to say, we think cloud computing is pretty darn cool.

But we also know that there’s confusion over what cloud computing actually is, and why there’s such a hullabaloo over it.

So we thought we’d clear the air and outline why we love The Cloud.

Here we go!

1. Faster and cheaper implementation

Traditional PLMs require on-prem deployments, which means that an organization has to invest significant capital expenditure into hardware as well as the expertise to maintain it.

It also means that the PLM provider can charge fat implementation fees to spin up the servers and get the PLM software running, which can take a long time.

In contrast, cloud hosts like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Microsoft Azure run huge data centres with servers always ready to go, and cloud PLM providers don’t have to build any software — they’re effectively giving users access rather than installing software on a network.

The result is an implementation that is fast, easy, and best of all, cheap.

2. More secure physical environment

There’re a lot of security concerns around cloud hosting. In fact, it remains a primary concern for most businesses. But one thing is for sure — even for large organizations, meeting the security standards offered by major data centres is next to impossible. As standard practice, data centres have:

  • 24/7 surveillance, an ID-controlled gate, and posted security guards
  • Carefully controlled access to servers
  • Tiered security settings, with only the top tier actually getting into where the servers are.

In comparison, organizations will simply put their servers in a basement or under the watch of the IT team, in what are largely unsecured buildings.

3. Easier to scale

Ability to scale up is essential to mission-critical software. As organizations grow, they need to be able to increase their computing power in order to handle more and more users on the network.

Cloud computing does this instantly. Major cloud providers have elastic server structures so that their clients can increase their bandwidth instantly.

What’s more, data centres are constantly spinning up new servers so there’s never a lag between a customer asking for more server capacity and a host providing it.

In contrast, spinning up new servers for either an enterprise or an SMB is both time-consuming and difficult, and it requires further capital outlay that some organizations might not have on-hand.

4. Better hardware in the long-term

When businesses build their own servers and host their own programs they’ll invest in new technology at the same time. But when it comes to upgrading, they’ll usually find that they struggle to get buy-in when their existing hardware is functional, just not optimal.

In contrast, hosting companies regularly replace worn hardware long before its due date to provide the best experience for their customers. And because they’re buying hardware by the container load, they can usually get the best stuff without incurring additional costs that need to be passed on to the customer.

5. Cloud PLM facilitates collaboration

Local networks are great — if you’re local. But as supply chains increase in size and complexity, PLMs need to be accessible to users all over the world. Local IT solutions are no longer viable, and the deeper organizations invest in them, the deeper those problems go. Inevitably, users resort to email and attachments, and just as inevitably, files, naming conventions, and versions get out of whack.

Cloud PLM means that users can access the same source of truth at the same time from anywhere in the world.

Collaboration becomes the default, not the exception.

6. Automatic software updates

Just like the cloud makes collaboration easy, it also makes software updates easy.

Traditional, on-prem PLM solutions require each instance of a PLM to be updated manually. For example, let’s say you’ve installed PLM software on 10 different laptops.

If you wanted to update them to version 2.0, you’d have to update all 10 laptops.

But with cloud PLM software, the PLM provider can push an update to your instance and update all of your users instantly, just like you get automatic updates for your Mac or Windows machine.

(And just like getting updates to your Mac or Windows, companies can choose to just ignore them if they want.)

7. Specialization

Specialization is good. When everyone focuses on their core competency, you generally get better results overall:

  • Organizations do what they’re good at — making things and serving clients
  • Cloud hosts do what they’re good at — building and managing IT infrastructure
  • Cloud software PLM developers do what they’re good at — building, developing, and improving cloud PLM products.

With cloud hosting, businesses don’t have to try and run their business and build a robust IT infrastructure. They can focus on what they’re good at and let other people handle the things that they’re not.

8. Reliable server uptime

Service level agreements (SLAs) today effectively guarantee 100% uptime. Technically, major hosting agreements guarantee 99.99% uptime, which translates into 52 minutes and 33 seconds of downtime a year.

What’s more, data centres where cloud systems are hosted have a number of redundancies with regards to network access, cooling units, power, and backup generators that it’s virtually impossible for businesses to recreate themselves.

The net result is a system that is very, very difficult to beat in terms of server reliability.

Every on-prem development professional will say that they have a reliable and robust backup and recovery system in place. And on paper, they probably do.

But in reality, those backup and recovery procedures can be… a little lackluster.

For cloud PLM providers and the hosts that they use, the ability to guarantee a data backup every day and a 30- or 60-day storage of those backups is critical to their success.

Essentially, cloud computing comes with a great safety net, which becomes increasingly important as multiple users are accessing mission-critical business processes on a daily basis.

9. Pay-what-you-use

You know how we said that cloud computing was cheap?

Well, it’s not just low implementation costs that make it a cost-effective option.

Cloud hosts charge effectively on a per-user basis. For instance, if you need 20GB storage, you just buy 20GB storage.

Because that’s how cloud PLM service providers are charged, it enables them to charge customers in the same way through SaaS business structures.

Cloud providers charge on a per-license basis, which means organizations can buy them as they need them. And if they ever need to cut back, they just cancel some licenses (rather than investing in $100,000 of hardware, no matter what their needs are).

Wrap up

Cloud PLM is going to be the PLM of the future. On-prem implementations are making less and less sense, both technically and financially. These are just 9 reasons we love cloud solutions for PLM products, but there are dozens more. And as value chains get longer and more complex, those solutions will emerge as the dominant technical solution in the supply space.

Image credit: Mateusz Dach via Pexels