Airbus: “Oops, We Did It Again”

Airbus-Aras Strategic Partnership

When it comes to changing enterprise software vendors, the aerospace industry isn’t exactly known as a fast moving bunch. While aerospace companies push the envelope of the most advanced CAD and CAE tools available in the market, they tend to select and stick for the long haul with one of three PLM software vendors: Dassault Systèmes, PTC and Siemens PLM.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise back in 2008 when EADS, as Airbus was known then, selected PTC’s Windchill over Dassault Systèmes’ Enovia as a single enterprise system to harmonize PLM activities across all EADS business divisions. At the time, this was not only considered a bold decision, but also as a slap in the face of fellow French company and aerospace insider Dassault Systèmes which is Airbus’s CAD and CAE vendors of choice.

And Airbus just did it again. Going against the consensus, that is. Last month it announced signing a strategic partner agreement with Aras PLM “to use Aras Innovator for Enterprise-wide Engineering Business Processes beyond 30,000 Users.”

The selection of Aras over the top tier PLM players, is a strong testimonial that, at least in Airbus’s estimation, Aras Innovator software can handle the scale and complexity of the PLM requirements of a huge global manufacturing company. Aras will no doubt use this win to continue threatening the longstanding PLM hegemony.

But Airbus’s decision could mean more than simply Aras’s ability to compete against the big PLM companies. Anders Romare, Vice President of Engineering Solutions at Airbus was quoted by the press release to say: “The unique SaaS subscription business model of Aras which eliminates up-front license costs and includes system upgrades with customizations is also quite compelling.”

As the open licensing model employed by Aras is gaining recognition and acceptance even by the most traditional manufacturing industries, Aras will have more than just functionality and scale which, arguably, is getting harder to compare and compete on. It will have a different business model that could potentially become a bigger lever to disrupt the PLM’s status quo.

The exposure and buzz created by wins such as the recent one at Airbus is great, but Aras is not dependent on them. There seems to be wave of renewed interest in PLM, perhaps because the status quo has lasted for so long and companies are seeking more modern software architectures and delivery models. The open licensing model of Aras Innovator should help lower the barrier to entry and simplify the thorny ROI questions for new users as well as those seeking a replacement.

[Photo: Airbus]