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.