REDMOND, Wash., May 3, 2006 – Microsoft and UGS Corp. today announced a multi-year, global strategic alliance meant to further unite UGS’ suite of digital collaboration technology and the Microsoft platform – with the goal of helping companies transform how they develop, introduce, distribute and service innovative products. The alliance announced today marks the first time that a full suite of product lifecycle management (PLM) technology based completely on the widely used Microsoft platform will be available. Today’s announcement was made at the 15th World Congress on IT, held this week in Austin, Tex. The overall goal of the alliance is to empowering global team members, customers, partners and vendors with the ability to participate in the product lifecycle process, from creation to end of life.
The alliance between the two companies will deepen the technical integration between UGS’ line of PLM solutions and a range of current and future Microsoft products, including Microsoft Visual Studio, ASP.NET 2.0, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 – all of which are based on Microsoft .NET, Microsoft’s Web-services strategy. UGS technologies to be included in integration efforts include Teamcenter, a digital lifecycle management solution and one of the world’s most widely used PLM portfolios, NX and Solid Edge, which create 3-D digital representations, and Technomatix, which simulates the entire manufacturing process.
UGS, a leading global provider of PLM solutions, has nearly 4 million licensed seats and 46,000 customers worldwide. UGS enjoys the leading position in three out of four discrete manufacturing sectors: automotive, aerospace and machinery. The company employs 7,200 people and is headquartered in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Tex.
To learn more about the alliance announced today, the significance of PLM to manufacturing and other industries – ranging from automotive to health care – and the vision shared by both companies of technology sharply focused on the roles people play in business, PressPass spoke with Tony Affuso, CEO of UGS.
PressPass: Why did UGS and Microsoft decide to form an alliance?
Tony Affuso: Both companies are deeply passionate about the absolutely critical role that people play in business success. Working together, drawing on the expertise of both Microsoft and UGS, we will deliver PLM solutions that connect people across the company and around the world. When people are able to truly collaborate with one another and share their expertise, the end result is innovation. And innovation is what differentiates manufacturers in today’s marketplace, which is increasingly global. We are confident that, by combining the strength of the Microsoft platform with the sophisticated suite of PLM solutions that UGS has developed, we can offer businesses around the world an environment that helps them leverage their greatest strength: their people. It’s often hard to find your next great idea. When all is said and done, great ideas start with people, and if you can bring those people into your innovation network it gives you a definite competitive advantage.
What drives every decision we make as a business is the best interests of our customers. And our customers want our solutions to be readily available to them in the Microsoft world. Our customers need to touch people all over the world, whether as individuals or as groups, large or small, so as we think through how to make that possible we had to ask ourselves a question: what’s on their desktops? The answer is Microsoft. That’s the key to why we’re so pleased with this alliance. We’re taking the strength of the Microsoft brand and using it to deliver more complete, user-friendly solutions and to create more awareness of PLM in general.
PressPass: What is the significance of PLM?
Affuso: The PLM space is defined by several factors, including shrinking product lifecycles and the need to deliver higher quality more quickly in a bigger marketplace. The real driving force behind PLM is that for the last several years companies have focused a great deal of effort on cost cutting, outsourcing, and leaning down in order to meet the cost pressures. That’s been the general theme for most manufacturing companies. Due to the focus on costs, a new business model has emerged for manufacturers, one where they’re outsourcing more, where they’re looking to their partners to play a greater role in overall product strategy. Today’s manufacturers need their partners to help them produce and deliver high-quality products on time and at a competitive price point. In other words, they need their partners and suppliers to help them innovate.
PressPass: Can you explain the significance of innovation in the context of PLM solutions?
Affuso: Today’s manufacturers are no longer looking to simply squeeze cost out of their suppliers and partners. Rather than focusing simply on cost cutting measures, manufacturers need to accelerate top-line growth to drive shareholder value. Working in an outsourced, more global model of doing business, they have to rely on partners and create competitive advantage through new products that bring innovation to the market. Manufacturers need to capture innovation in a way that’s sustainable. They need to take what they do best as a company and leverage what they know are best practices in an environment where partners are very closely linked even though they are often on the side of the world. They need to manage an environment that’s both external and internal in the same way they would if their entire team were within four walls of a company. A quality PLM solution unites a network of OEMs, partners, and suppliers so that processes can be managed and controlled. A quality PLM solution enables manufacturers to engage with partners and suppliers in a more collaborative way, which nurtures greater innovation. PLM technology provides the informational backbone for products, everything from engineering specifications, quality and warranty issues, various requirements – PLM manages all of that and puts everyone squarely on the same page.
PressPass: Can you tell us more about the PLM solutions offered by UGS?
Affuso: UGS offers a full suite of PLM solutions, and, with the alliance we’ve announced today, they will be the first such suite to be based entirely on the widely used and familiar Microsoft platform. NX and Solid Edge are products that are all about creating a true 3-D digital representation of the product in great detail. Not only is it a visual 3-D image, it also contains all of the characteristics and properties of the product. It can be interrogated in terms of performance to address issues such as whether it will break under a certain weight load. On the other side of the coin we have Technomatix. With that technology, once you’ve got a virtual product you’re able to simulate the entire factory floor in all of the manufacturing plants right down to the work cell level to simulate exactly how the process will take place. This includes everything from welding, assembly lines and the transferring of parts. The benefit of that is that one of the worst things for a manufacturer is to spend three or four months brainstorming and planning, only to find out that manufacturing their new product requires major – and expensive – re-tooling and reconfiguration. The third critical piece in the lineup is Teamcenter, which handles the data management aspect. It takes all the information, ties it together, organizes it, and, thanks to this alliance, integrates it into the Microsoft world with products such as Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
PressPass: What about security and privacy issues?
Affuso: The protection of intellectual property is a critical component of the PLM solutions UGS offers. Our technology is role-based, which means that manufacturers can determine who can see what throughout the value chain.
PressPass: Does Microsoft and UGS really scale to high-end of the enterprise market?
Affuso: Yes. In fact, in demonstrating the scalability of the Microsoft platform, the latest UGS Teamcenter benchmark using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and running on HP and Intel hardware, delivered record-breaking results with 5,000 concurrent users, equivalent of up to 25,000 named users. This new UGS Teamcenter benchmark is 5 times more scalable than SQL Server 2000 and demonstrates SQL Server 2005’s enterprise-class abilities.
PressPass: What’s the impact of this alliance on manufacturers’ customers?
Affuso: The benefit of the alliance between Microsoft and UGS will exhibit itself in several ways. First and most importantly, it will deliver a higher quality product. Also, it gives consumers more choice. This alliance and the broad adoption of PLM solutions will ultimately give consumers the opportunity for greater customization aligned with the cost advantage that comes with having something mass produced. Think about it in terms of buying a car. If manufacturers are using PLM technology to its fullest advantage, a consumer can come into the showroom, order an automobile based on their specifications, and have it delivered on the same schedule as a mass-produced automobile would be delivered. PLM solutions, when used properly, makes for a greatly improved overall experience for the consumer, thanks largely to the fact that PLM solutions allow people who are developing products to think not just about getting it out of the door but to really keep in mind how the products will be serviced.
PressPass: We’ve talked a lot about manufacturing, but does the future of the PLM space include other industries?
Affuso: Yes. We’ve had a firm focus on manufacturing and now with this full suite of PLM technology based completely on the Microsoft platform we can now create a best user experience that extends benefits to non-traditional sectors. Industries such as consumer packaged goods, retail, pharmaceuticals and healthcare are some of the areas where there is an opportunity for us, in partnership with Microsoft, to make a meaningful contribution.