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Product lifecycle management in the public cloud

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Tilman Schroeder

Manufacturing companies have embraced product lifecycle management (PLM) as a way of using software to manage a product from production to purchase or across the entire value chain. Companies use the PLM software to increase productivity and collaboration, improve quality, bolster creativity, and shorten time to market for a product.

PLM is the backbone of every manufacturing organization, and today in most cases industry players have deployed their PLM systems on premises. However, an ever-increasing number of manufacturing companies are starting to migrate at least parts of their PLM deployments to the public cloud.

Migrating PLM systems to the public cloud

Here are some of the major reasons to migrate large and independent PLM systems to the public cloud.

  • Instant scalability. Dynamically scale resources up and down according to your business needs. The cloud makes your IT systems more flexible and agile by nature. One result of this flexibility is to shorten the duration of procurement cycles, which makes planning for ever-expanding PLM systems easier.
  • Less operational overhead. Cloud allows you to focus more on tasks that create value. No upgrading and less maintenance of infrastructure means that you can use your resources, including human resources, more efficiently. Instead of maintaining the PLM system, you can focus on advancing capabilities such as building digital twins out of PLM systems or running high-performance computing.
  • Security enhancements. A few years ago, most companies had doubts about the security of the public cloud, but recently this narrative has shifted. Even large organizations understand that it’s hard to keep up with the leading security standards and technology provided by tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
  • Remote work. Hyperscalers have the most distributed data centers available. In these times of remote work and the pandemic, sometimes a cloud location can be closer to the data consumer or CAD engineer than the data centers set up by largest manufacturing organizations. This means that the cloud can provide the most distributed available network for optimized global data access.
  • Cloud economics. The cloud is more than just a big computer from someone else. It’s a true business-model innovation that lets you benefit from flexible pay-as-you-go consumption models. Manufacturing companies can mitigate associated financial risks and shift this risk to the hyperscalers or technology partners. 
Use Case

Challenges and bottlenecks

In spite of the benefits and advantages, challenges and bottlenecks are preventing many organizations from deploying their PLM to the cloud.

  • Enterprise-grade file management in the cloud. Siemens Teamcenter is about both metadata and files. The major chunk is data volume, which includes various types such as CAD files, videos, office files, and text files. Files range in size from hundreds of MBs to GBs and can be difficult to manage. Enterprise-grade file solutions are inevitable to host PLM in the cloud, because native cloud object storage might not be the best solution.
  • Data sovereignty. –Some companies are reluctant to have their core product knowledge and information in the cloud. A PLM system in an organization is not a single software application, it’s a cluster of different tools, integrations of various software, and insights. This cluster of tools and software varies from enterprise to enterprise. PLM users fear making themselves too dependent on one hyperscaler by bringing all this complexity and insight to the public cloud.
  • Performance and response times. Responses are generally less consistent compared to an on-premises Siemens Teamcenter deployment due to variations in the public WAN connections and variations caused by the nature of the virtual machines on which the cloud service is based.
  • Resource utilization and costs. As the volume of data increases, costs and resource utilization can get out of hand for both storage and compute. Therefore, it’s inevitable to integrate services that can scale and reduce TCO as systems grow to keep the cloud economically feasible.

How NetApp can help

At NetApp, we have strong proof points and references to overcome the challenges of PLM. Many manufacturing customers trust NetApp to host their PLM systems both on premises and in the cloud.

NetApp® advanced storage and data management solutions are the most advanced solutions for implementing product lifecycle management systems. Our solutions give enterprise customers a range of productivity and performance options and an easy way to support a globally distributed heterogeneous environment. Also, NetApp cloud integration provides a unified data layer spanning from on premises to the cloud, so we also support you with your migration process and with establishing a true hybrid cloud experience.

Technical value adds with NetApp

Accelerate time to market by maximizing collaboration:

  • Unified storage and multiprotocol improve sharing of files.
  • NetApp data replication and mirroring let PLM users stay in sync regardless of location.

Increase performance, reliability, and availability:

  • Reduce network bandwidth with NetApp FlexCache® technology between the central storage repository and remote clients.
  • NetApp Snapshot™ technology and high-availability features provide uninterrupted Teamcenter data availability.

Decrease management and ownership costs:

  • NetApp storage efficiencies work on primary, secondary, and archival PLM tiers and optimize for resource utilization.
  • NetApp technology can realize large operating cost savings, both on premises and in the public cloud.
Production Environment A


Customers already trust NetApp with their backbone PLM systems, and they rely on NetApp ONTAP® data management software, both on premises and in the cloud. Whatever you want to achieve today or tomorrow, we can support you with our advanced data management capabilities.

NetApp optimizes product lifecycle management in the public cloud by:

  • Providing faster data access to increase overall productivity
  • Reducing operational overhead and enhancing easy management of IT operations
  • Making architectures in the cloud more robust and enterprise ready
  • Finally, we increase your organization’s innovative performance by connecting PLM systems to the innovation capabilities of the public cloud

Here are some of the solution components that make all this happen:

  • All of our cloud storage operations—for example, Azure NetApp files, Cloud Volume ONTAP or Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, depending on your specific requirements
  • Our hybrid cloud solutions that host PLM systems o -premises
  • And finally, the Spot by NetApp portfolio of cloud services optimizes compute costs for cloud PLM deployments

Tilman Schroeder

Tilman joined NetApp in 2018 where he now holds the role of Cloud Lead Automotive. Here, Tilman is the technical lead for emerging technology in the automotive industry and responsible for developing and implementing service architectures for emerging use cases such as Product Lifecycle Management, Machine Learning and Autonomous Driving. At NetApp, Tilman can pursue his passion and support global automotive companies in establishing an enterprise-proven hybrid cloud data layer for their most innovative workloads.

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