PTC has announced that their core solutions are going to be migrated over to Atlas, the cloud-based platform that Onshape runs on. What are the implications? What are the opportunities? Well, we’re going to talk about that next.
The Implications and Opportunities for PTC
Okay, so let’s talk about what are the implications and opportunities for PTC as they move a lot of their traditional core products – we’re talking about Creo and Windchill mainly, and maybe Integrity – over to Atlas, which is this platform that Onshape built. It’s a cloud-based platform to run applications. Onshape runs on that, but it’s a platform that they’ve separated from Onshape. It doesn’t require that anymore, and they’re going to be using this platform as their cloud-based platform, the architecture upon which the products are going to move over.
So, it’s a really interesting kind of announcement, and what I’m going to talk about next is a lot of speculation. They haven’t announced what that is going to look like as it moves over, but there are some really interesting opportunities. First, let’s get some context. Let’s talk a little bit about what their traditional engineering IT ecosystem kind of looks like today.
The Traditional Engineering IT Ecosystem
First off, let’s start over on the right, which is kind of like the internal IT development environment inside a company. You have different types of engineers using their own applications that run on their desktops – mechanical CAD, electrical CAD, and software development. There are integrated development environments that are often run, and each of those are creating files, models, drawings, diagrams, schematics, and code. Afterwards, they are then uploaded or synchronized with a couple server-based systems, traditionally – PLM and ALM.
PLM is typically where you see the hardware being stored and managed – the digital definitions that you need for all the hardware: mechanical hardware, electrical hardware, and electronic hardware. Afterwards, the software development material goes in ALM – Application Lifecycle Management. Of course, you can have other people kind of punch through and connect to those from outside through the firewall, and their applications can contribute definitions to those systems as well – PLM and ALM.
Challenges of the Traditional IT Ecosystem
That’s the traditional IT ecosystem that we’ve had going back for a while before the cloud was available. What’s going on here, and why might that be an issue? Well, there’s an issue of access for external folks, or work-from-home employees, over the last year where you had to be within the firewall to somewhat contribute. This has always been a challenge, but it’s been well tread. A bigger issue, however, is this lack of integration between PLM and ALM – two separate systems. You certainly can manage the digital definitions of software code or applications and all of your hardware in two different places perfectly fine.
The issue is when you start to get into system engineering. When you have architectures that span domains, requirements management that spans domains, and you need to feed those down into each – software development, mechanical hardware development, and so on because they need to come back up and be integrated into a whole system. Cross domain testing would also be another one. Once you flash software onto your product and it fails – you need to understand the root cause, which might be software, electronics or the electrical distribution system. You can’t do that separately in these two systems – ALM and PLM.
The New Opportunities of Atlas
Having a split between those two is kind of artificial. It’s easy to understand where they came from, and they were developed separately. Traditionally, it’s hard to bring them together. However, moving to Atlas represents some new opportunities, and one of those big opportunities is to have closer, more tight knit processes that you can execute because of integration. Now, of course, you look at this diagram, and you can see it doesn’t matter if you’re internal or external. You’re a contractor or supplier – you access these solutions the same way. It’s through the cloud, it’s through a browser, and that’s great.
More importantly, from my perspective, once you move PLM and ALM to the same environment and the same platform, you have an opportunity to have seamless processes. I’m not saying they need to be integrated into the same code base or the same system application, but what is important is that you surface the right capabilities for different users. A software developer sees one change process, and they see one set of requirements that are allocated out across different domains. System engineering is the same way. The mechanical hardware engineer is creating geometry and drawings as part of one experience, not two or three or four different applications.
I think the real benefit here is that there’s a usability productivity aspect that I’m talking about. You get access to a broadened set of capabilities that will make individuals more productive, and that’s great. More importantly, with an integrated process, you can have one change process that everybody participates in, and you have one system engineering process that everybody is involved with. You have one testing process that acts across integrated domains – mechanical, electronic, electrical software. There are lots of benefits there, and you can accelerate what you do without being artificially constrained.
Moving Forward With the Cloud
So, that’s the advantage and opportunity that I see. PTC announces that these core products are going to be moving to the Atlas platform, and there are benefits to running anything in the cloud. Lots of solutions can offer those capabilities, but this is interesting because you can bring together the worlds of hardware and software to run on the same processes. Where today, in almost every circumstance, they’re using completely different systems. They’re in silos, and if you want them to talk, it’s going to be painful.
You’ve got to get them out of their silos, and you’ve got to get them out of their workflows. You might have to drag them out, kicking and screaming, but if they’re using a single platform that gives them the capabilities they need to do their job, in an environment that makes sense for them, that suddenly becomes very powerful because you can accelerate those individual processes that span what everybody does.
This meeting was very focused on financials for PTC, but that is only a small piece of information that I heard which got me very excited. I think it’s a really great opportunity, and that’s the implications and opportunities of PTC moving their core products onto the Atlas platform. Take care and talk soon.