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Jul 14 th, 2017
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PLM: from SOA to MASA (Mesh App & Service Architecture)

Unless you live under the rock, you know what is SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). It was style of software design where service provided to other components by applications through some sort of communication protocol via network. The basic principle was independence from technology. So components are representing logical activity with a specific outcome, self contained and can be used as a black-boxes in different scenarios. Different services can be used in conjunctions to provide service to other applications.

PLM software actively used SOA paradigm from technological and marketing standpoint. You probably remember PLM SOA Enterprise middleware story from Dassault Systemes. Another example of strong techno-marketing reliance on SOA is Aras Model-based SOA. I’m sure there are few others.

The new thing is coming on a horizon of technology and techno-marketing – Mesh and MASA. For CTO and technologist in an organization, it represents a fundamental move from what was known as three-tier-architecture to a new world of distributed computing and services. You can find it in a recent Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017 publication. speaks about what is hot in technology in 2017. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is what Gartner definition.

The Mesh refers to the dynamic connection of people, processes, things and services supporting intelligent digital ecosystems.  As the mesh evolves, the user experience fundamentally changes and the supporting technology and security architectures and platforms must change as well.

And what is MASA ((Mesh App and Service Architecture)? Here is a definition of this trend from the same article.

The intelligent digital mesh will require changes to the architecture, technology and tools used to develop solutions. The mesh app and service architecture (MASA) is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.  Solutions ultimately support multiple users in multiple roles using multiple devices and communicating over multiple networks. However, MASA is a long term architectural shift that requires significant changes to development tooling and best practices.

In a growing world of IoT, connected services, distributed computing and cloud architecture, Mesh and MASA sounds like a very logical continuation of SOA, which is getting a bit old (first principles of SOA were published in 2003). Do you think it is very far reaching concept and theory? Not much. Many applications in today’s consumer web are operating using these principles and architecture – GPS navigation with social service, road sensors and many others.

The “Mesh App and Service Architecture” (MASA) can refer to the design of systems and solutions that connect, mobile applications, web applications and cloud services, desktop software and IoT applications – both user or operational data – into broad mesh of services to create what user (or consumer) can view as an application.

In manufacturing, it can be set of information services, data and application to perform various operations and tasks. Design service, data end of points about standard components, 3D printing and machining services, supply chain and manufacturing operations, shipments and many others.

In such example, PLM (Manufacturing) MASA is an evolution of SOA based on API exposed at the level of networks and across organizations with capability of advanced analysis of massive volumes of data stream coming from IoT and mobile devices.

What is my conclusion? MASA is an interesting techno-marketing concept and I’m sure we ware going to see it very soon coming from PLM vendors incorporating it into their technical and marketing presentations. I’m not sure MASA buzzword will stick for a long time, but the underlining concept and logic are strong and representing the needs and realities of technologies and computing architectures. Manufacturing is turning into distributed digital network and MASA is one way to describe it and provide technical and architecture description. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.

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