SOLIDWORKS PDM Part 5: IT Challenges – Security, Backups, and Scalability

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Digital infrastructure maintenance and setup can be daunting and overwhelming especially without a designated IT Department. Protections need to be made not only for digital security, but for the security of company intellectual property. This type of security includes not only limiting access to proprietary data but making sure that such data is properly backed up and that the infrastructure is capable of both growing and expanding with company growth.

PDM DATA SECURITY: CONTROLLED ACCESS
pdm security

Product Data Management (PDM) systems offer a secure file vaulting environment for files of all types. The multi-level security PDM systems offer are necessary to be compliant with regulations such as ITAR, EAR, FAA, FDA, Military Standards, and even non-disclosure agreements with other commercial companies.
PDM Systems require two levels of access. The first level is providing access to the network and the second level is the unique login credentials for each individual user. A login password is required for access to the system. This will ensure that only the correct employees have access to proprietary files.

Individual user rights to file and folders can be established through PDM permissions. These permissions can limit not only access to files and folders, but also certain actions such as:

  • Read and Write Access to files
  • Approval Authorization
  • Running Tasks (Printing or converting files)
  • Deleting files and folders
  • Creating files and folders

These permissions make sure that the employees with the correct regulation clearances have access to files and the actions to modify or approve such files. This type of security helps ensure regulation compliancy.

PDM BACKUPS: OUT OF SIGHT – OUT OF MIND

Are you worried that backups of your proprietary data are not being done? Perhaps the backups are not complete or all inclusive? PDM Systems can automate this task at designated times and be placed on a recurring schedule so there is no need to manually create the backups. Furthermore, the automated backups can be pushed to a different server or file location to ensure the backups are available if needed.

PDM Systems utilize Microsoft SQL Server as the method of managing and working with the underlying database. The SQL server is what manages versions and revisions of files. The SQL environment allows for an automatic Maintenance Schedule to be setup to backup the necessary vault and master databases.

Look at the image below. You can specify the Maintenance Plan name, the Schedule Type, the frequency, the day of the week to run the backup, the time of day the backup occurs, and if an end date is necessary. A full backup of the database can be run including backup integrity checks. The automation of such a thorough backup will simplify your data backups.

pdm job schedule
PDM SCALABILITY: SEAMLESS GROWTH

If your small business is experiencing rapid growth or is poised for rapid expansion, then it is critical to have a system managing your intellectual property that is going to grow and scale with the company’s new demands.
PDM Systems are scalable in a couple of different ways: the PDM system’s own ability to add users and groups and database growth and scalability.

growth chart
PDM SOFTWARE SCALABILITY

The beauty of PDM software is that it can be as simple or as complex as necessary. PDM software can start out with few users, groups, data cards, and a simple workflow. However, additional users and groups can be added as more employees are hired. Permissions associated with users and groups can easily be modified to ensure that correct people have access to the data at the correct time in the workflow. Data Card fields can be added to manage additional file meta data. Additional data cards can also be created and utilized.

The underlying workflow that is controlling the approval process can also easily be changed. PDM software offers a high amount of flexibility in customizing the workflow. Additional states can be added to existing workflows as approval processes expand. Entire workflows can be added to give unique processes for specific types of documents such as ECR’s and ECN’s (Engineering Change Requests and Engineering Change Notice, respectively). Multiple workflows can work together seamlessly to reduce purely linear processes.

SQL DATABASE SCALABILITY
database scalability

PDM Professional comes with SQL Server Standard licenses included, but can take advantage of SQL Server Enterprise. According to the Microsoft website, the maximum capacity of the SQL Server Enterprise version is 524 PB (Petabytes). If you have never heard of data that large, it equates to 524,272 TB (Terabytes). That’s a massive amount of data by modern standards! The shear capacity of the SQL Server will be extremely difficult to outgrow with engineering data even for very large companies.

SQL server database can be scaled both vertically and horizontally. Vertical database scalability refers to the ability to add more physical resources that the database can take advantage of. Such resources include increase CPU, memory, or storage. Because the maximum capacity of SQL Server is so large, companies are most likely to be limited by their own amount of storage. Fortunately, more storage can be added SQL will compensate accordingly.

Horizontal database scalability refers to the ability to host data across multiple databases. In conjunction with a product like SOLIDWORKS PDM, the database can be replicated for use in multiple locations in different states or countries. This is a type of horizontal scalability that will keep high performance for local teams when dealing with the PDM environment in multiple locations.

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