OSLC and configuration-aware links between ALM and PLM systems

OSLC has gained a strong position in the integration of systems, platforms, and tools in the ALM space, but ALM is not an island in industries that manufacture and construct physical products and systems. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems remain the standard for managing the hardware engineering lifecycle, and the two, ALM and PLM, simply do not communicate well, if at all, in nearly every one of those organizations. Engineering, manufacturing, service, and operations organizations have tolerated the engineering domains being isolated in different practitioner tools and lifecycle management systems for many years but strong evidence is emerging that this tolerance is evaporating and being replaced by a range of emotions that tend to frighten ALM and PLM vendors alike, as well they should. In short, we integrators are now faced with quite a challenge.

This challenge arises from the fact that ALM and PLM systems approach configuration management from two radically different perspectives and thus using very different CM models and approaches. Many attempts to resolve these differences have been attempted over the years with very little success. Whether the approach is to try to use one system, usually PLM, to manage the entire lifecycle and all associated domains, or to integrate the systems, countless projects have failed to accomplish the task. At the root of these failures lies the significantly different CM models of the two systems. If OSLC is to be the best means of integrating ALM and PLM, and it certainly has that potential, the OSLC standard must be enhanced to address not only one of the two CM models (the majority of the effort today seems focused on the ALM model), but both models and in such a way that ALM and PLM assets may be linked in a configuration-aware manner without error or loss of fidelity.

This will not be a trivial task for the OSLC community and working groups. It has been tried many times before in one form or another and the challenge has always been fatally underestimated. Arguably, though, now is the right time to finally address and solve this challenge. The OSLC community can make large contributions to this effort, though such contributions will require much deeper understanding of the challenge and collaboration with the PLM community to succeed.

In this presentation, we will briefly examine a few of the root causes of this challenge and some proposed approaches that may be used to address it.