Arena Solutions was once known as bom.com. If that reminds you of dot com bomb, that may be why it was changed. Probably more likely is that hardly anyone outside of engineering and architecture knows that BOM stands for bill of materials. Besides, Arena Solutions' charter has grown to encompass far more that bill of materials. Arena is about PLM. But wait-- before you you dismiss them as just another vaguely-defined, solution-to-everything company trying to sell you expensive software you've been able to do just fine without, you ought to read on, because Arena has an idea -- and the financial backing -- to be the next big thing in our industry.
I met with Michael Topolovac, Arena's CEO, in the upstairs office of their PR firm in San Francisco, near Union Square. I had met Michael a few other times at trade shows, but it wasn't until this meeting I finally got it. I doubt that I had become smarter. Maybe it was the barrage of PLM-will-save-the-world literature I have been subjected to for the last few years.
What distinguishes Arena from other vendors selling PLM software? According to Michael, Arena has the advantage that it is cheaper and easier to use than enterprise solutions offered by Dassault, UGS and the like. While they sell big, heavy solutions that require servers, IT staff and lots of training, Arena's PLM application is on demand -- it runs off a web browser on Arena's servers. A light application, no IT staff required and Michael insists training is minimal. Also, PLM from Arena is a service, not a product. When you buy a product, a vendor naturally loses interest. However, with a service, the vendor has a continued interest in making sure the customer is satisfied -- or they don't renew.
Some questions raised:
Q: Easy to use implies lack of power? Is this true of Arena?
A: Arena thinks feel supplying most of the power at a fraction of the cost is a good model.
Q: How safe is customer data with Arena?
A: With a lot of customers, storing data is like keeping money under the mattress. There is usually inadequate security. We're more like the data bank with security and safeguards in place.
Q: What does it cost?
A: Work group edition is $500/year, Professional is $1200/yr and the Enterprise edition is $1600/yr.