Acquisitions allow companies to grow their revenues, take advantage of any synergies, and improve their competitive offerings. In the case of PLM acquisitions, a major challenge is that the acquired software is based on a minimum of at least one technology stack, which differs from the acquiring PLM vendor’s architecture(s).
As a result, the PLM vendor typically finds it impractical to rewrite code and instead opts for an integration. Over time, the result is a large offering of products built on many different technologies, some of which are integrated with each other while others are cobbled together. In my experience, trying to manage a collection of products from the same vendor built on different or evolving underlying architectures has been problematic, to say the least. Additionally, we’re all familiar with products where the upgrade path from an existing technology to a new one was less than adequate, and this occurs for the same reason—two different underlying frameworks.
Recently, Oleg Shilovitsky wrote an interesting blog entitled, "Will Aras Lose It's Mojo or Develop a New Way to Acquire Companies?" Oleg does a nice job of describing the Aras’ recent acquisition, Comet Solutions, as a CAD agnostic solution for Simulation Process Data Management (SPDM) that enables simulation at scale across the product lifecycle. He briefly discusses the earlier Aras Acquisition of Impresa, a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) solution that enables Manufacturers and Owner Operators to digitally maintain complex products in the field, extend their Digital Thread, and “own the lifecycle.”
In his blog, Oleg raises an important question: “Will Aras lose its famous platform mojo and become a set of integrated applications?” Marc Lind, the Senior VP of Strategy at Aras, responded and said no, Aras “incorporates” technology into the Aras Platform. But, what does “incorporation” mean?
Aras Innovator is different.. The “famous Aras platform mojo” Oleg refers to isn’t a software product or a group of products integrated together; it’s a platform—a single resilient, open digital platform with one set of open APIs.
As a platform, Aras employs an “incorporation” strategy, which means we rewrite all of the necessary acquired functionality reusing functions that already exist in the services layer of the Aras Platform via open APIs, then build applications that replace the acquired product.
You’re probably thinking, “How can we take the time to rewrite code and continue at the pace Aras is growing?”
In addition to being a digital product platform that has PLM applications, the Aras platform is also a development platform. What makes Aras unique is that every application is built based on a model-based engine that subscribes to functions through open APIs in the services layer. What this means is that every application and every customization accesses a function, like “save item” accesses the same “save item” function. When Aras acquires a new technology, we choose to “incorporate” the product into the services layer as required and write applications using the modeling engine.
The added benefit to Aras’ platform approach and the continual incorporation of applications into platform services is that it increases the breadth of the platform services. Whether Aras is developing a new application organically or we’ve acquired and incorporated, 80% of the development is already finished before we start. The platform at this stage is so robust, any new application is 80% complete due to the extensive platform services, so the level of effort to incorporate is 20% of what a competitor would need to re-write. This is how we can acquire and grow functionality into the platform at such an accelerated rate.
The customers get this same benefit, which is often seen when Aras is used to retire legacy systems. Even if Aras doesn’t have the application, it can be customized quickly, thus giving companies the flexibility to retire legacy systems as they see fit, resulting in a more flexible and fluid Digital Thread.
Along with an open architecture, this platform approach is what allows Aras to upgrade our customers’ software for them, while retaining any customizations written by them or a third party.
Think about that—the company doesn’t need to perform upgrades. Sounds a little nuts, right? In my former life, that was my original reaction.
Companies spend millions just keeping customized PLM systems running, then spend on POCs to see if new versions will meet their needs. They spend even more on upgrades (usually migrations), which are virtually impossible due to customizations on architectures not meant for customization. In short, it’s a monumental waste of money, especially when someone will do it for you. At the core of this waste, besides a bias toward the incumbent vendor, is the underlying architectures of products that have been stitched together over time.
Integrations are necessary across major areas like CRM, PLM, and ERP in order for companies to have some semblance of a Digital Thread. But when you’re building out a PLM system on a platform that allows you to customize—and when the vendor (Aras) can upgrade all of it for you as part of the subscription—you not only reduce your total cost of ownership, but you improve your time to value and provide tremendous agility.
The reason Aras can offer this upgrade service, perform deployments so quickly, and develop new applications so rapidly is the “famous Aras open platform.” This wouldn’t be possible without incorporating applications.
Many thanks to Oleg for highlighting this. Aras is committed to solving the toughest problems in the industry with an open, flexible, upgradable, and scalable digital platform that incorporates all of its applications to allow companies to expand their Digital Thread and Own the Lifecycle. This is what gives Aras that famous platform mojo.[:]