What’s the Difference between Autodesk Vault and Aras Innovator?

As a long time partner to Autodesk, we have in recent years developed integrations technologies that bridge Vault with other applications.  In particular, this has been facilitated by Vault Connect, a solution marketed and sold by Autodesk.  Given our work with Aras, we encounter prospects that also use and/or are considering the use of Vault.  As a result, it not uncommon to get the question … “what’s the difference between Autodesk Vault and Aras Innovator?”

Right out of the starting gates, I think each has their role.  It is not a question of one-or-the-other.  Coexistence is actually a better strategy, especially for users of Autodesk authoring tools.

Having been involved in CAD integration technologies for 15+ years, the reality and simple truth of the matter is that no one is going to do a better job of integrating CAD tools with data management then the CAD software vendor themselves.  In this case, Autodesk has the inside track that third party integrators are not going to touch.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but there are about 30+ vertical applications built on the AutoCAD engine!  Each application has its own nuances, separate supporting file formats, data components, linkages and inherent complexities.  Throw in the Inventor engine along with its vertical apps and collectively this is looking like a development/update nightmare.

I gladly sing the praises of Vault.  It is critical to the equation.  It’s a product data management (PDM) platform … nothing more and certainly nothing less.  I think I can speak for the Aras team, and that is, Aras is not about displacing Vault.  It’s about embracing it … and normalizing the integrations with the various CAD authoring tools, supporting a seamless integration (hence VPLM), and focusing onsolving the bigger issues.

Let’s take a step back and think about what Aras is tackling and what PLM is really about.  A couple of weeks ago, we published the transcript interview with one of my all-time favorite industry analysts … Dick Bourke.  One of the key points that was made is that “ERP today is very much about executing on the manufacturing activities and PLM takes on more of the ‘process’ oriented activities.” 

So what sits in between sales and manufacturing?  It’s PLM!  It’s laying out a common repository, enabling collaboration and providing process support.  That’s it …

·       common repository

·       enabling collaboration

·       providing process support

Of course, when we say “repository” we are talking about a database model that can adequately treat items, related drawing, bills, configurations, etc.  Collaboration includes workflows and normalizing formats so everyone can view and comment.  That means treating various file formats including 3D drawings.  And no doubt there are countless processes to consider.  New part introductions, engineering change and release, etc.

What’s described in the above paragraph is not trivial.  And how Aras responds to this is a separate discussion.  However, to preview that discussion, Oleg Shilovitsky, an industry analyst, made several recent observations about what Aras was doing.  I’ve pulled an excerpt statement to encapsulate the theme …

“… think about Aras as a “pain relief” for companies thinking how to grow their PLM development and concerned about a ROI speed.” 

So going back to the question … the important takeaways are … 

·       Autodesk Vault is ideally suited to managing its own authoring tools

·       provide a seamless bi-directional gateway between Vault and Aras Innovator (VPLM)

·       leverage Aras to the do the heavy PLM lift

This is an unusual and unique time in the PLM industry.  There have only been 3 key players in the enterprise PLM space.  Aras is emerging as the fourth.  In fact, as I have said before, “in my working life time, Aras will be the last boat to leave the PLM harbor … get on board.”  Engineering and manufacturing companies that don’t want to play with the “big 3’ have no other option left.  This makes the Aras story so powerful. 

by Martin van der Roest