Artizone to maintain and develop Dassault Systemes’ SmarTeam

1 Dec 2009: Rockaway, NJ. Yesterday we spoke with John Squire, Dassault Systemes VP of Industry Marketing for Enovia. Squire reports to Mitch Tellier, CEO of Enovia. We spoke about the future of SmarTeam and the reason and logic behind creating the Israeli based artizone company. The answers and our assessment follow.

To understand artizone, you first need to understand the direction of SmarTeam V5. To put it bluntly, SmarTeam has no place in DS V6! At least not in its current state. The logic being that with the new architecture of Enovia V6, all of the functions performed by SmarTeam are, or soon will be, incorporated in Enovia V6. Further, V6 relies on a single architecture and environment, thus there seems no place for a standalone PLM system.

To ease the transition, DS offers, or will soon do so, migration tools to support moving to either V6 PLM Express or directly to Enovia V6. V6 PLM Express is the pre-packaged tool for SMBs. It includes pre-defined roles, data types, and typical data flows. Today, Enovia V6 can be configured to appear very similar to SmarTeam V5. In the future, Squire promised auto-mapping tools to convert SmarTeam even more easily to V6 PLM Express. No prices were forthcoming about what such an upgrade might cost.

Thus, a careful reader can see that there is NO future for SmarTeam within V6 as an external database system. One might wonder why DS dismissed modern tools for synchronizing databases such as XML?

Given that there is no future for SmarTeam in V6, the question arises as how best to support their 8,000 existing customers, some 60% of them using CATIA as their primary CAD system, 20-25% used by SolidWorks and multi-CAD customers, the balance being used by enterprise users, BOM management, and ERP integration.

Earlier this year DS began to consolidate V6 development into fewer sites, closing down 3 or 4 former development sites, one of which is DS-Israel, the primary developers and maintainers of SmarTeam. Apparently few were willing to transfer out of the country and DS felt that to maintain a DS site in Israel solely for the maintenance and future support of SmarTeam V5 would risk losing the best and brightest developers. Thus was hatched the idea to form an Israel based, independent company (artizone) that would have an exclusive contract with DS to maintain and develop the product in the future. DS maintains all contacts with customers for sales, revenue, and maintenance support.

Rather than maintaining the outmoded SmarTeam software as a portion of DS, Artizone employees would have now an ownership stake in the company and could also begin to develop non-competitive (with DS) software. Several press releases suggested that one new area for artizone would be retail shopping software, however, any other areas that are non competitive with DS are possible growth opportunities.

So, artizone starts life with about 75 ex-DS highly skilled database employees, some funding from DS (the amount was not divulged nor was the DS ownership portion, if any), a long term contract with DS loaded with strict performance measurements, skilled executives from DS, and on-going good will from DS.

I asked Squire what message he would like me to tell you. Here is what he said:

  • The future of SmarTeam is secure
  • SmarTeam is not a dead product
  • SmarTeam is still a DS product
  • SmarTeam has an enhancement plan
  • DS will support it far into the future (not defined as to how far)
  • When the time is right there will be a smooth migration to V6.

Are there risks for SmarTeam users? You bet. Artizone software developers might soon discover that their future is in new products, not maintaining a system set for extinction. Future enhancement plans for SmarTeam were not discussed, however, one might assume that DS will spend most of its efforts on enhancing V6. Squire would not discuss whether there are or might be any revenue sharing plans between DS and artizone; such plans might greatly affect artizone development plans.

At least, in the short term, SmarTeam customers will see little difference in sales or support for the product. However, SmarTeam customers would be wise to soon begin planning a migration from SmarTeam, especially if new function is desired. CATIA customers should not delay; other customers should evaluate all options for moving to either Enovia V6 or to another PLM system. Why wait, even though, there appears no reason to worry about short-term disruptions.

———-

5 responses

  1. It sounds like you heard some of the same things about the artizone changes and SmarTeam V5 future that I have been hearing. Although I am not sure about all of the conclusions you reach based on the information you heard from John Squires. I have my own take on the situation: http://www.razorleaf.com/2009/11/dassault-not-crazy/

    In particular, I have recently heard the DS strategy on V5/V6 coexistence and it seems like they have a very real plan for customers wanting to use SmarTeam V5 with CATIA & ENOVIA V6. The plan actually makes a lot of sense to me because it allows users to house and work with CATIA V5 data in SmarTeam V5 while using CATIA V5 and V6 data in ENOVIA V6 (one-way passthrough). The further idea is that the V5 data could be migrated (one-way) on-the-fly into ENOVIA V6. Having done a number of data migrations / upgrades in the past, I strongly support this methodology (on-the-fly migration as required). On a related (but separate) point, I recently saw some very interesting capabilities in ENOVIA V6 for federated EBOM management which segmented the BOM across multiple PDM platforms (not just SmarTeam).

    The other conclusion that I don’t understand relates to SmarTeam customers’ future plans. Given that DS has spent the effort (and money) required to setup a separate company (artizone) for SmarTeam V5 development, I can’t imagine that SmarTeam V5 will go away anytime soon. There would be much simpler ways of doing this if Dassault was just trying to “kill” the product. From my perspective (and what history has shown with DS and V4), I expect SmarTeam V5 will be around for many more years to come, and that SmarTeam customers don’t need to do anything immediately.

  2. Thanks to Ray for focusing on this topic and for providing such a great forum for open discussion. I would like to clear up a few things from our interview: 1) some factual inaccuracies and 2) offer a different conclusion that Ray did in his post. Here are the facts direct from Dassault Systemes so readers can reach their own conclusions:

    • SmarTeam V5 remains a strategic DS product with an ongoing enhancement and maintenance plan. DS is responsible to our customers and remains committed to supporting their current and future SmarTeam deployments over the long run.
    • To secure our ability to continuously improve SmarTeam, we have established a new, employee-owned company, called artizone, which is the original SmarTeam R&D team. They are100% dedicated to the SmarTeam mission and motivated to help our customers succeed. Our relationship with artizone is secure well into the future.
    • SmarTeam V5 is part of the V6 strategy. First, SmarTeam application s are being re-implemented on V6 as part of V6 PLM Express. In addition, we support “coexistence” scenarios where SmarTeam V5 users can share parts and assemblies with V6 users, and the 2 systems can run in parallel.
    • All SmarTeam V5 customers will have a smooth migration and co-existence plan to V6 for both CATIA V5 and SmarTeam V5.
    • In addition, V6 has a very robust federated data model that allows it to connect any system and exchange data with the V6 PLM users, but this capability needs to be configured to specific company requirements.

    If I were to read these facts, I would not conclude that “SmarTeam customers would be wise to immediately begin planning a migration” or that “customers should evaluate all options for moving to another PLM system”. To the contrary, I would conclude that DS is sharing its future direction well in advance, but there is no immediate need to migrate. My SmarTeam investment is secure. I will be able to migrate all SmarTeam V5 users and when I do so, a big bang migration is not required, but could be done incrementally over time.

    That would be my conclusion. Now, with all the facts, it remains an exercise for the readers to reach their own conclusion.

  3. Lior Levy, GtM of Artizone, sent me a link to a recent discussion on the COE forums about some recent inquiries. http://www.coe.org/Collaboration/DiscussionForum/ActiveDiscussions/tabid/210/aff/8/aft/131493/afv/topic/Default.aspx

    This speculates and discusses some of the future for SmarTeam. My original conclusions seem to be holding. Enhancements do not seem to be coming any time soon. Users can stay with SmarTeam as discussed by John Squires in his comment, but this is definitely a dead end.

    I also asked Lior to give me an update on the company and will keep this blog updated if I hear from him.

  4. So here we are 18 months after this conversation. 18 months closer to the “end of SmarTeam maintenance” whenever that is. And 18 months further into artizone’s non-competitive ventures. Any changes in the message? Can customers continue to rely upon the maintenance of SmarTeam as artizone continues to pursue an ecommerce business model? Can we assume enhancements to the product are no more?

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