How Open Is Open? Check it out.

The broad use of ‘open’ does seem to have very different interpretations, especially when it comes to platforms or cloud-ready architecture.

Two examples for me in my research recently, needed some “airing” as the openness (excuse the pun) gives me a higher level of comfort. I wish others would state what openness really means in their offerings.

The two I have been drawn to are Aras and their open architecture platform for PLM and the other is Bosch with their IoT platform.

Let me take quotes from both to underpin that real clarity I believe the client would want before they go into a partnership. Today so much is banded about upon “lock-in” when you commit to platforms, it sort of scares of many potential clients wanting to have platform solutions, from making that investment. Trust and confidence in what you are actually signing up for, is needed to be fully transparent. Goes to say but is it?

In my view only having one platform provider is not the right path, it is a range of providers, selected because they can cater to your jobs and needs, not you having to fit into their architecture but it is this openness that significantly needs to be looked at closely.

Lets firstly look at Aras

I came across them as I have been investing some time on the PLM aspects that seen to be driving many past clients onto platforms provided by the PLM provider, as their old PLM system is proving a real “legacy” system needed significant update. Why?

As we are moving increasingly to product development of complete systems with hardware, software and electronics all coming together, the present PLM systems are presently struggling and lacking comprehensive collaborative solutions, without a clear movement onto platforms and into clouds to achieve this. Also, specialized PLM products are not very adaptable to the specialized business processes and the rapidly changing requirements to adapt to fast-changing market conditions that are occuring as we deal in far more complex product design worlds.

Also, heavily customized PLM implementationsof the past, are really difficult to upgrade so you constrain the support needed for an evolving strategy with all the changing process needs coming from new approaches. Finally, those cross-collaborations really struggle, front-end development and all those that is connecting the extended enterprise needs are being held up, by this holding on to old PLM systems that were not designed for this. We are in the age of cross-collaboration as essential, we need to constantly exchange, track and seek multiple inputs. To do this “stand alone” PLM solutions are highly constrained.

The cost of making a design change reliant on old PLM software that now relies on greater collaborations or digital exchange, is choking change and holding much back. So solutions that offer the ability to deal with legacy, allow for design change and collaboration are in high demand and we have entered the age of Ubiquitous innovation where the traditional boundaries between systems, are rapidly disappearing. The push is for integration of all systems and their designs to have the digital thread running through them.

Lastly, PLM has evolved and has become central to any “digital twin” concept. Platforms provide a elegant solution to moving out of legacy problems without complete redesign and allowing new digital design to “sit on top” or be phased in to allow legacy issues to be unlocked.

PLM is contributing significant parts of some IIOT platform providers sales.

The recognition of the need to rapidly change is having an enormous effect on all industries reliant on PLM solutions, such as Automakers, Medical Equipment, Industry Machinery Suppliers, Aeroplane designs and the growing complexity within products, collaborations with partners and the speed of design to production to final sale. The business of Engineering is rushing to embrace digital in multiple ways with such fast-moving market developments in connecting up the machine, the factory or whole networks of connected products, all offering really different business models where service becomes a growing part of the offering

Aras certainly recognize this problem. Looking at there “How We Do PLM” I was impressed with these statements of how open they are,. they seem to take a very different approach to PLM. I quote from their website in this extensively:


We combine enterprise open source technology with an advanced model-based service-oriented architecture to deliver a highly scalable, flexible and secure PLM solution suite

Our extensive out-of-the-box functionality and modern web-based, cloud-ready architecture enable you to deploy quickly and continuously enhance your PLM environment in a fraction of the time required by conventional enterprise PLM / PDM systems and at a total cost of ownership far below that of any leading competitor.


Your job is hard enough already, so we make it very easy to do business with us.

First, our PLM solution is available free of charge. You can download it, install it and use it to run your business without ever paying us a cent.

With Aras, there are no PLM software licenses to buy – ever. No named license schemas that charge for each user to access each module. No big, up-front PLM license expense. No spending a fortune on licenses for the thousands of people that only log on periodically. We give you complete access for unlimited users with no PLM license costs.

Then, if you’d like a little help, we offer pay-as-you-go training and consulting or an annual subscription that even includes upgrades and upgrade services for all major and minor releases of Aras Innovator, including customizations. No, that’s not a typo.

Then they add this

Open Architecture – Complete Control and Flexibility

We provide the control and flexibility you desperately need with the assurance you require for business-critical solutions.

Uniquely among PLM solution providers, Aras has an open architecture which features an open data model, open interfaces and use of open Web standards.

To learn about our commitment to Openness, read the Aras ProSTEP iViP Code of PLM Openness (CPO).

Open Software

To customize or extend traditional PLM applications you have to use the vendor’s published API. But without detailed knowledge of the internal workings of the application, you are working blind, adding cost and risk to your implementation.

Aras takes a different approach – we make the source of our applications available to you so you can modify it directly – saving you time and reducing project risk. In fact, you’ll have the same access as our in-house developers do. And because changes at the application level don’t impact the core Platform services, you’ll still be able to upgrade to the next release without any headaches.

Aras finish with a solid statement of their commitment

At Aras, we have a long history in the PLM business and we understand the complexity involved in enterprise-wide PLM projects. We’ve built a successful business by establishing genuine relationships with our customers and committing ourselves to their success.

In addition, our enterprise open source model enables us to give back to the global PLM community by providing thousands of companies with a world-class PLM software solution that they would be unable to afford otherwise. In an industry that counts every penny from each named user, is that different? We think so. And we believe you will too.

Then we turn to Bosch.

Bosch pursues an open source strategy to transform IOT. In a recent article from them, again I quote extensively from their material:

One of their very early decisions so as to be seen as a leader in IoT, Bosch made a strategic decision to adopt an IoT platform. After a strategic assessment, they realized there were three options:

Why Open Source?

Bosch did not want to risk a strategic investment that relied upon a licensing agreement with a third party so an OEM option was rejected. Bosch also saw the dominance of open source software across many software infrastructure categories and realized an open source IoT platform would probably be one of the dominant IoT platforms in the next 5-7 years.

For these reasons, Bosch decided they would pursue an open source software (OSS) strategy for creating their own and their customers’ IoT platform. An OSS strategy would allow Bosch to create a modern open platform that would better compete with the proprietary IoT platforms that were beginning to come on to the market. An open platform would also allow Bosch to collaborate with other companies in the IoT ecosystem and better enable Bosch to provide a more complete solution to their IoT customers.

“Open source is the way we chose to compete with proprietary vendors. It provides the basis for a viable and vital ecosystem where we can engage with customers, collaborators, and competitors in a completely new and open way.”

                                                                         A quote from Caroline Buck, Product Owner of the Bosch IoT Suite

An open source strategy also fits well into Bosch Software Innovations’ mandate to introduce new perspectives and processes that transform how the Bosch Group develops innovative software solutions. Internally, the acceptance of the OSS strategy was reviewed by key Bosch stakeholders, including legal, marketing and product owners. The senior management addressed initial concerns about legal issues, potential loss of IP, and transparency of code. The result was the development of a set of best practices for open source management. In fact, Bosch has been so successful with their open source management, they have now started their own consulting practice to help other companies begin an open source journey.

My take on these

For me, I am impressed with the clarity of what they Aras and Bosch commit too and how they look to be clear on their openness. I am just not sure on many other IIoT platform providers. Both Aras and Bosch do make it very clear on what openness really means to them and you as the client, if you work with them.

Do others? I feel they are more opaque and I feel continue to lose out on a valuable value proposition by not “openly” stating what ‘open’ truly means within their proposition.

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