What is Cloud PLM?

Andrew Sparrow
7 min readMar 2, 2020


So, let’s talk about Cloud PLM Cloud computing today, and its ongoing and future exponential growth across the enterprise technologies.

I remember the first time I encountered PLM software, back in 2001, coming out of our SAP-ERP Y2K anti-climax! It was the next big thing in enterprise applications and then it wasn’t!

It evolved into a luxury that in the main, the large enterprises could afford.

Smaller players had only basic tools to help them produce at a competitive price and get their products on time.

Thankfully that has changed.

SaaS cloud solutions have leveled the playing field & so let’s see why…

Difficulty deciding how to use Cloud PLM

Customers are having difficulty deciphering when, how and even whether to use Cloud PLM. With the type of sensitive information that is managed in PLM, there’s always been push-back in moving to the cloud. Adoption is however gaining momentum as more customers see the available options and advantages.

As PLM delivers the fundamentals of New Product Development, Digital Manufacturing, Manufacturing Operations, Product Maintenance and Support, it adopts more agile businesses with more evolved IT computing environments.

Cloud PLM improves innovation, time-to-market and flexibility across the ecosystem, enabling the extended enterprise.

So what is Cloud?

Cloud computing is the ability to access and manipulate files from a remote site. You need an internet connection to access the files. LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are all examples of cloud-based applications.

Think of cloud as computers with unlimited storage with high processing speed located in specific areas around the globe. These are what we refer to as data centers.

The types of Cloud PLM

Cloud service providers offer two types of cloud. Private and public. Private is only accessible within an organization while public is accessible to the general public. Security is more enhanced in private than in public.

However, when the cloud offerings go-to-market, the service menu spreads into four types of cloud strategies deployed in PLM applications:

  • Public clouds are systems that are shared by multiple users with no control over the decision to who is their fellow users.
  • Private clouds are systems available for the sole benefit of a single company/entity where cloud data is secure and protected.
  • Community clouds where only specially selected companies with common or related goals participate in the system (like partners, channels, supply/design chain, for instance).
  • Hybrid clouds where a private cloud can extend onto a public cloud for specific activities and on an as-need basis. The benefit of a hybrid approach that incorporates a public cloud is that it provides extra performance scalability for the private cloud that would be in use.

Cloud PLM Services

3 segments of cloud-based technology called SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.


Let’s start at the level most of us have a lot of unknowing experience with. SaaS-products are softwares running on the internet. Think of Gmail, Office 365, Google Docs, Zoho, etc.

While most people regard these as any other website, it is actually Software running on the cloud, not merely a static website. It replaces your old e-mail client or the bulky office suite which was installed locally on your pc. These SaaS-products all run in the cloud so you can open them anywhere you are and you never need to install them.


PaaS, which stands for “Platform as a Service,” is a combination of a development platform and solution stack that’s delivered as a service on demand. It is described as an infrastructure used to develop a new software app or extend existing ones without the initial cost of buying and implementing additional hardware and software. PaaS often can extend the capabilities of existing SaaS solutions.


IaaS provides an environment for running user built virtualized systems, sometimes termed as a platform virtualization environment. It includes service, software, data-center and network equipment delivered as a single bundle.

PLM harnesses the power of the Cloud

Why is cloud becoming so increasingly popular with manufacturers? Getting to market faster, smarter & affordably is critical in a competitive market where opportunities come & go at speed

1. Cloud PLM: The need for speed in the 4IR

In the 4IR, you’re expected to continuously manufacture faster and reinvent products, while improving sustainability!

Now isn’t that almost a contradiction in terms? Well, it is and it isn’t.

I believe there’s room to innovate, improve, evolve and revolutionize without throwing away the existing product and its infrastructure. We can use of electronics, software and Industry 4.0 technologies all to constantly upgrade and evolve our products.

The ability to order in small batches will let you prototype seamlessly and test the market continuously, along with personalize for customer-centricity.

Personalize for customer-centricity

But, to achieve this you’ll require three major functions in place:

  • A total view of your entire product development process in one snapshot.
  • Detailed control over every part of your product design.
  • Real-time, uniform data across your entire supply chain.

This triple power allows faster iteration through real-time collaboration across all those you want to have access to it, during design and even later as customers make their personalized changes.

Minimize those errors

Duplication of effort, simple human mistakes during design and during manufacturing can all be pretty much removed through Cloud PLM. Not only does it make product data accessible, but it also automates the process of communicating, sharing and organizing data. Team members are immediately notified of updates, changes automatically highlighted and versions time-stamped and categorized for you.

By streamlining processes prone to human error like communicating changes and updating information cloud PLMs reduce project risk and keeps things running smoothly.

2. Implementing an end-to-end PLM now lays the groundwork for future growth

As a manufacturer, you need to keep track of the many product details in the development, production and manufacturing phases — the requirements, designs, dimensions, materials, thinking and approvals.

Keeping track of everything in a spreadsheet will quickly tip you over the edge mentally and physically. Making annoying mistakes, creating delays, duplicating your and others work just doesn’t work if you want to compete and grow.

This is where a robust tech solution comes in and it’s more affordable today than it has ever been.

Robust Cloud PLM solution:

  • A cross ecosystem communication solution like no other, totally focused on delivering world-class design and new products
  • A single source of real-time truth across your entire value chain with varying degrees of access authority levels
  • Automation spread throughout your business processes, helping to minimize errors and eradicate duplication of effort

3. Affordable Cloud PLM

Gaining access to an ever-improving competitive innovation platform, data management, CAD, digital manufacturing suite has always been a cost challenge. And that’s before we even consider integration consultants, data migration etc

Implementing the solution used to take months.

With the advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS), you get to pay a monthly fee to access the PLM over the web.

No more software or hardware to buy, install, maintain or upgrade.

This reduces both the cost and implementation of PLM to a fraction of what it was only a few years ago.

Your agility allows you to lead, never follow

As I often say, we should drive our businesses like we drive our cars, by looking forward, not by looking in the rear view mirror. What ‘was’ (looking in the rear view mirror) is the safety zone and can allow your people to fallback to protect themselves, and to operate without blame. Looking forward, trying new things means taking responsibility to do something different and to disrupt.

Competitive landscape

Old PLMs are built out of legacy data and slow “clunky” functionality. Cloud PLM is agile, and implementing is agile

Large enterprise is stuck with legacy systems.

Their PLMs have been installed for over 10 years and are missing many of the latest functions.

Yet having invested so much time and money implementing them, large companies are reluctant to replace these dinosaurs, and so it is your opportunity to compete.

You can start with a clean sheet of paper and move at speed!

Love to hear your thoughts and love to hear if you’re thinking of moving to Cloud PLM

All the best, Andrew

I drive Product Innovation & Optimization projects for companies using cutting-edge tech & software solutions to keep them at the forefront of the customer-centric 4IR

I blog, vlog & podcast passionately about our need to innovate & thrive, about managing the product lifecycle (PLM) & ever improving smarter manufacturing (MES/MOM/Digital Manufacturing). I love working with the solution vendors, the large consultancies & system integrators & helping them promote themselves & best practice, while at the same time helping deliver great projects through my networks

I love & thrive in working with some of the world’s largest companies such as Airbus, Capgemini, Dassault Systemes, Ericsson, JLR, TOTAL, Siemens, Sony, Subsea7 & Unilever, to name a few

I’m a big people-person & have spent my life meeting as many people & cultures as I can. At my last count, I am lucky enough to have visited & done business in over 55 countries

supporting you in your collaborative journey with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

#PLM #Cloud #Cloudplm #3dexperience #enovia #catia #solidworks #enoviaworks



Andrew Sparrow

Engineering & Implementation Resources/Solutions in Product Lifecycle & Smart Manufacturing - Shows, Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts for the Future World