Unless you’ve been under the rock for the last five years, you’ve heard about DevOps. Still confused about DevOps? Start here and learn more. In a nutshell, DevOps is a set of practices and tools to facilitate a cross-functional mode of working between coding, building, deployment, operations, support, and other disciplines.
DevOps is becoming an important discipline in many companies, especially companies where software plays an important role. And if you look at manufacturing companies these days, you will see products embedding more and more software. I’m not speaking about the fact that a modern car is more and more reminding us of a computer on wheels. It is everywhere- products are embedding more and more software and also cloud and mobile software plays an expanded role in operations of products – also from a user experience standpoint as well as from an operational standpoint.
Active and advanced development of DevOps method made me think, it can impact the way we think about PLM in the nearest future. Take a look on the following picture, representing a typical definition of DevOps – Devlopment and Operations are intertwined and introduced a completely new process.
Looking at this picture, I imagined how all product development, manufacturing, service, and maintenance activity can be re-imagined using DevOps structure. Think about the lifecycle of different Bill of Materials (or how some PLM companies like to say – product structure) between Design, Engineering, Production Planning, Built, Service, Maintenance. Also think about closed loop back from physical products back to design (let’s call it IoT loop, but I need to come with a better name). Here is the picture:
What does it mean in terms of tools companies are going to use? Many DevOps tools are available for software engineering and development. Does it mean that PLM tools will be integrated or intertwined with software tools? ALM tools seem to be a right starting point to create an integrated PLM DevOps. However, a valid question – who will integrate what? Should we bring ALM to PLM or vice versa? Should we drop current clunky legacy tools and develop a set of scalable cloud components that can do both – product development and maintenance and service? These are all questions that the PLM industry will need to answer in the next few years.
What is my conclusion? DevOps is a new discipline that expanding its influence from pure software operation and development into a physical world. Manufacturing products are intensively using software these days. The integration of software and traditional product development (both mechanical and electronic) is a hot place where a lot of innovation is happening. With an increased complexity of products to provide a unified DevOps + PLM tool can be an important goal. How do so? Integrating existing ALM and PLM tools like some of PLM companies are doing today? Could be… But integrating old tools can be too hard. Is it an opportunity to bring new DevOps tools combining both PLM and ALM functions? Alternatively, to create online cloud components capable to do all these things together. To include software DevOps, mechanical and electronic design together. It sounds more attractive and agile approach to me. But… these are just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.