By Bruce Jenkins, President, Ora Research
In its recent acquisition of CFD leader CD-adapco, Siemens PLM also acquired CD-adapco’s Red Cedar Technology subsidiary, developer of the HEEDS design space exploration software. With this move, Siemens PLM joined its principal PLM rivals in owning premier technology for design space exploration. Dassault Systemes entered the market in 2008 with its acquisition of Isight developer Engineous Software, while PTC has long offered an internally developed design space exploration product known today as Creo Behavioral Modeling Extension (BMX).
World-class design space exploration products are also available from a multitude of independent software developers focused exclusively on this area. On the one hand, these vendors’ commitment to design space exploration is effectively assured. On the other hand, many are small companies that must devote a great portion of their resources to software R&D and customer support; the result is often constrained marketing and sales budgets that make robust growth a challenge.
Being owned by a large, deep-pocketed PLM vendor has the potential to liberate a design space exploration software business from such constraints. But for customers, could there be drawbacks as well? In evaluating and selecting a vendor, buyers need to weigh the likely benefits of sourcing design space exploration software from a major PLM vendor against the potential limitations.
A substantial PLM vendor is almost certain to have a robust base of corporate resources available to ensure adequate funding of software R&D, product marketing and sales, and customer support. Practitioners will likewise stand to benefit from the advice and experience of a substantial global user community through company-wide user group meetings and online forums.
Favorable pricing for the PLM vendor’s design space exploration software is likely to be available when the software is procured either as part of a larger product bundle, or under an existing corporate purchase arrangement or subscription plan.
Users are likely to benefit from good synergies between the vendor’s design space exploration tools, its mainstream PLM offerings, and especially its CAE offerings in the case of any PLM vendor with a significant CAE business line. This is an important consideration for user organizations either currently invested in those CAE products or contemplating an investment.
Further, every PLM vendor with a major CAE business line also offers a solution for simulation process and data management (SPDM) built on the core data/process management technology underlying its PLM environment. Where archiving and retrieval of design space exploration processes and results are supported by this SPDM environment, that will make it easier to broaden usage of design space exploration from a workgroup or departmental activity to an enterprise capability.
In a PLM vendor’s R&D activity, a tendency may emerge to focus development of integration linkages on the vendor’s own CAE solvers, pre/post-processors and geometry modelers that design space exploration software must work with, at the expense of competitors’ solvers and other tools that users may need or favor.
Should overall business conditions turn challenging, there is always some risk that a large PLM vendor’s corporate focus on its design space exploration business line will not remain as strong as at vendors dedicated exclusively to design space exploration. In this event, the design space exploration business could come to experience under-investment in R&D and technology innovation as well as in marketing and sales. Even in normal business times, a large PLM salesforce with multiple products in its portfolio—some having considerably easier, more straightforward sales cycles than design space exploration—may waver in its commitment to its design space exploration offerings.
Should either of these situations lead to sales shortfalls or downturns, management may become less than enchanted with the design space exploration business, leading in turn to further-diminished resources for the business. Should this vicious cycle take hold, it could ultimately relegate the software to a neglected back-shelf product line, or worse.
Users should carefully assess the PLM vendor’s strategic plans and expressed long-term commitment to its design space exploration business, together with its track record of success with past acquisitions, to judge whether this scenario can be safely ruled out.