By now, everyone is aware that the cloud has become the dominant approach to deploying applications across almost every enterprise domain. Companies have progressed from viewing the cloud as an opportunity, to establishing it as their de-facto deployment strategy for the foreseeable future. To say the growth of the cloud has been substantial is an understatement. As IDC stated in their Worldwide Whole Cloud Forecast, 2020-2024:By 2024, total worldwide spending on cloud services, the hardware and software components underpinning cloud services, and the professional and managed services opportunities around cloud services will surpass $1.0 trillion while sustaining a double-digit CAGR of 15.7%.” 

Creating predictability

One reason for this continued growth is that companies see the appealing opportunity to reduce the unpredictability of managing their own data centers by moving the entire function to a platform provided by a vendor that has the resources to execute complex tasks better than they can themselves. By contracting with a massive hyperscaler like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google to host a company’s technology, it falls on the vendor to manage the complex processes to reach the highest performance levels. Whether it is providing the right infrastructure configuration, ensuring software versions are up-to-date, or recruiting highly trained individuals to design and manage day-to-day operations, these companies have the available capacity to ensure the predictability of their clients’ system environments. This predictability comes in many forms, such as predictable costs, reduced time for procurement, security compliance, and guaranteed up-time and response times.

Predictability of a SaaS subscription goes beyond the infrastructure and continues to a company’s applications. There is a certain confidence created when companies can expect to have their applications upgraded on a regular basis, especially when the upgrade process has minimal impact on their organization. Since most SaaS offerings limit or even restrict company specific customizations, users are forced to standardize and align with the built-in business processes of the solution. This ultimately reduces their application development work and minimizes issues with system bugs, future upgrades, and the technical debt that generally comes with customizing enterprise software.

The problem with predictability

The issue in creating a more predictable world is that the business world is not predictable. It never has been, and it never will be. Frankly, it is downright unpredictable. Unpredictability sneaks up on organizations with changing business requirements, company reorganizations, and the need to quickly adapt to new technology—all of which can play havoc with a company’s applications, especially their PLM application.

If you have been keeping up with PLM cloud adoption, you probably noticed that companies have been late to the game. While other enterprise applications users have adopted cloud solutions quickly, PLM, particularly for large companies, has been lagging. Typical explanations for this include security worries and anxiety about vendor lock-in, but I believe there is a larger issue lurking underneath—managing unpredictability. I have never seen a large company use a PLM system out-of-the-box regardless of vendor. Every large company has unique requirements that demand they invest significantly in customizations to their PLM systems and then leave them apprehensive about the future. This has left companies with two difficult questions about moving to a SaaS PLM—how to migrate their current, on-premises PLM to a SaaS offering that does not offer the same capabilities, and then what to do with their unique requirements when they get there. Predictably unpredictable.

As many companies have found out when moving their PLM system to SaaS, their vendor’s SaaS offering may not have the same functionality as the on-premise version. They find that the SaaS version actually contains a subset of their existing system leaving IT departments to ask, “what am I supposed to do with the missing functionality?” (Well, that was unpredictable.)

The next roadblock companies face is what to do with the unique customizations driving their distinctive processes. Since many SaaS environments limit or restrict customizations, companies find themselves again asking how to meet their specific needs if they cannot keep their customizations. Without these customizations, organizations are left with burdensome and inefficient workarounds.

Of course, this issue does not end after the migration to a SaaS environment is complete. Since we live in an unpredictable world, there will predictably be many new and unexpected business needs. Ask yourself, have you ever seen an empty backlog? (Of course not.) If you cannot bring your existing customizations with you, you certainly cannot guarantee that you will meet your company’s requirements in the future.

The solution to unpredictability

There is a PLM SaaS solution available that helps customers avoid the unpredictability trap. Aras Enterprise SaaS is the only SaaS offering for PLM to support unlimited customizations and the capabilities to create unique solutions with no limits to complexity. Only Aras Enterprise SaaS provides a fully capable, business-ready SaaS PLM environment with complete systems engineering and digital thread functionality ready to transform your organization, all available in a single offering. 

With Aras, delivering this level of flexibility is actually very predictable.

Learn more about Aras Enterprise SaaS read CIMdata’s latest commentary, “Aras Enterprise SaaS, Fully Configurable SaaS on the Cloud.