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Arena Moving to the Big Leagues

Product lifecycle management (PLM) vendor Arena Solutions is making a play for the big leagues, expanding its hosted software past the mid-market.

Officials at the Menlo Park, Calif., software developer launched its third update for the year, Arena PLM Fall '05, with an enterprise edition to join its workgroup and professional versions.

"On demand has gone beyond being just a solution for the mid-market, which it is still obviously great for, but more and more large companies are just fed up with the traditional way of buying software from enterprise software vendors," said Michael Topolovac, Arena Solutions CEO.

Their entry into the big leagues puts Arena Solutions up against some of the big hitters in the PLM market such as Dassault , Agile , MatrixOne and PTC

Topolovac likens his company to its peer in the customer relationship management (CRM) community, Salesforce.com, which offers hosted CRM. Like Arena, Salesforce.com faces pressure from enterprise software giants Oracle , SAP and Microsoft .

As a hosted offering, Arena can deliver more product updates and without the update hassle found with traditional software. This is the third software upgrade for the software this year. Topolovac said there are between three and four updates a year.

The big updates in this iteration of the hosted software are compliance management tools to ensure products developed and manufactured by the customer don't run up against any government or industry regulations.

Customers using Arena PLM '05 can build a rules engine that, say, looks for prohibited materials in a product and flags them so they can be addressed.

Officials point to a forthcoming July 2006 deadline in the European Union for the Restriction of Hazardous Solutions (RoHS) requirement, which bans the use of certain materials in products used in the region.

Unlike other software companies, which create pre-defined templates for compliance efforts, Topolovac said manufacturing guidelines have a lot of gray areas, so templates aren't the best solution. Instead, he says, providing customizable tools to build their own rules is the best way to help customers.

Enterprise customers like the ability to customize their software to meet the specific needs of the corporation. Arena officials said they've accomplished that with the inclusion of "point and click" customization.

It lets them modify data models, dynamically organize and present information to their taste or model unique business processes without having to generate one line of code.

The company has also spruced up its user interface, incorporating Ajax-style enhancements to create desktop-like performance on the browser.

Arena Fall '05 Enterprise Edition is available now for approximately $120 per user, per month.