Product lifecycles get the Windows treatment

Microsoft has forged an alliance with France's Dassault Systemes to integrate Windows and SQL Server with applications that manage a company's products from the design phase to distribution.

Windows shops that want to build a product lifecycle management strategy now have the assurance that Microsoft will be more closely aligned with one of the PLM industry's largest manufacturing application vendors.

The company this week revealed a long-term global alliance with Dassault Systemes, a Paris-based software company that makes a suite of software that helps companies set up

For all Windows shops … this means that the corporate-wide integration with their engineering department will be easier.


Bradley Holtz, president,

Cyon Research

,
processes to design, develop, share and manage their products.

Microsoft and Dassault will more closely integrate Dassault's three-dimensional software with Microsoft's client and server platforms, including the next generation of Windows (Longhorn) and SQL Server (Yukon), Web services development and the real-time collaboration platforms. Both companies will also encourage industry adoption of XML for 3-D applications.

"For all Windows shops or .NET shops with SharePoint Portal Server and other advanced tools, this means that the corporate-wide integration with their engineering department will be easier," said Bradley Holtz, president of Cyon Research Corp., a Bethesda, Md., consulting firm in the engineering software industry.

The heart of Dassault's offering is 3-D software. If engineers are working on an airplane or an automobile, for example, the software presents a digital mock-up on which they can conceive the product and its components. Other employees in the enterprise can access this information -- for product costs and marketing purposes, for example.

By having Dassault's products more tightly integrated with the Windows platform, employees throughout an organization will have the ability to collect information and make decisions about design, marketing or advertising, that were previously not possible, according to Holtz.

Microsoft is

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interested in recognizing this use of 3-D in the enterprise and wants to extend it to more casual users, according to Charles Johnson, worldwide manufacturing industry managing director at Microsoft.

Neither company would provide specifics about the alliance's impact on specific products. Dassault's executives said they did synchronize their product release cycles to match those of Microsoft.

Dassault is one of the largest makers of PLM software, but it is probably best known in engineering circles and among IT executives by its product names: Catia, Enova, Smarteam, Delmia and CAAv5, Holtz said.

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