You’ve probably been hearing a lot about OSLC, and all the noise may have left you wondering about what OSLC is and why you should care. So here’s a primer with all the information you need.

What is Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration?

Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration Definition

OSLC stands for open services lifecycle collaboration. It’s a design standard to help companies facing data integration issues across multiple business solutions. This is a problem faced by many manufacturing organizations. As manufacturers strive to enable a digital thread for their products, the ability to amalgamate data from the various point solutions they use to run their business becomes of paramount importance.

OSLC stands for open services lifecycle collaboration.

We define point solutions as the range of enterprise applications like ERP, SCM, FS, or CRM used by manufacturing organizations to do business. Each of these business systems is necessary to keep the business running, but none of them is adequate to support a digital thread on its own. Furthermore, to make the integration process even more complex, each point system typically handles overlapping data while also requiring differing data formats.

Why Use Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration?

The Traditional Integration Model

In the past, companies were forced to create hard-wired integrations that needed to be updated or upgraded whenever one of the underlying enterprise solutions came out with a new release. Most enterprise applications issue new releases annually, but it would be rare for any two applications to be on the same release cycle. As a result, companies were forced into an expensive and never-ending cycle of integration maintenance. This created a never-ending need to rewrite and retest integration programs, which often caused the company to lag application release cycles. This ultimately prevented them from taking advantage of needed capabilities in new features and technology included in the release. In addition, this traditional method meant that companies needed to keep scarce IT resources on reserve to keep integration programs current. This ultimately prevented resources from being deployed to other projects that could improve operations and boost productivity.

Another integration option included adding yet another expensive solution to the IT stack. ERP, SCM, FS, and CRM may include large subsets of a product’s data, but their data maps are still only subsets. Companies were, therefore, required to add on middleware conversion applications to serve as data normalization tools and repositories. In this scenario, each business solution is wired to the middleware solution rather than to each other. Better, but still not ideal.

There had to be a better way. OSLC is the better way.

OSLC Changes the Integration Model

Most enterprise applications see themselves as the centerpiece of a company’s IT strategy, but except for PLM, none of them truly cover every facet of a product’s life, from design to production to after-sale support to disposal. That means that only a PLM solution will have a complete set of data necessary to support the digital thread.

OSLC and PLM enable the digital thread for your product.

OSLC frees companies from the vendor lock-in required by the older integration methods and replaces it with a more flexible and agile yet robust solution. OSLC uses the standard HTTP protocol that runs the web to perform easy and adaptable integrations that evolve as the underlying business systems evolve in tandem.

How Does Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration Work?

If you think of a company’s business solution architecture as a mini version of the internet, it’s easy to understand how OSLC simplifies data use across multiple systems. Just as users retrieve data from the internet using URLs, OSLC integrations do the same thing. Data from the various systems are linked together by referencing the other’s URL, but the data is accessible without users knowing, remembering, or searching for the underlying URLs. OSLC forms REST APIs that ensure smooth movement of data by ensuring data meets all the target application requirements like required fields or data formats. Users then access the information for the digital thread through OSLC-based applications such as PTC Windchill. PTC recently announced a Windchill-based digital thread project with the US Navy, which is a perfect example of the power of OSLC integration through Windchill.

PLM is the ideal backbone for the digital thread because its data model covers a product’s entire lifecycle.

Benefits of Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration

Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration offers many benefits over more traditional integration technologies. OSLC integrations are much less expensive to maintain in both the short- and long-term because they can be rapidly set up once. They also continue to operate even as the underlying applications go through their own upgrade lifecycles. And because they use REST APIs, integrations require less testing since they use the applications’ validation procedures. As a result, skilled IT personnel can be deployed on other projects to improve the company’s overall productivity. Faster, cheaper, and less maintenance. What could be a better outcome?

Using OSLC for integrations is faster, cheaper, and more accurate than other methods.

Learn More About PTC Windchill and OSLC

If this sounds intriguing or if you have questions about how OSLC with PTC Windchill would work in your environment, contact us today.