Aras Innovator, High Level Architecture Description

 

MarcL: Can you give a basic high-level architecture overview of Aras Innovator covering networking, deployment, security, vaulting, customizing, integrations and other basic info to help understand the technology at a conceptual level?

Aras PLM Solution Studio

Aras Innovator Solution Studio

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator is a 100% web services architecture based on open web standards.

The architecture is naturally distributed, and supports implementations ranging from a single server to hundreds of distributed servers.

 

Aras on the Network

Aras Innovator is a 100% Web application tuned to minimize web traffic and network bandwidth requirements for global WAN deployments.

Aras Innovator is tested and certified for acceptable user performance in WAN’s with less than 250ms latency.

In networks with unreliable connectivity or latency > 250ms,       the architecture can be partitioned into multiple separate instances of meta-data and file vaults, with robust logic for moving product data between instances on an as-needed or scheduled rate.

Aras is committed to an open architecture and open standards.      All connections from client-to-server are XML / SOAP and HTTP on Port 80 and HTTPS on Port 443 so the system is ideally suited for secure collaboration across corporate firewalls.

 

Aras Client Approach

Aras Innovator’s out-of-the-box client is a browser application.  This can be used within the firewall or from outside the firewall (Aras customers include the US Army, US Air Force, Lockheed Martin, etc    all connections and data access controls meet the military-grade security requirements of these customers).

As a 100% web-based application there are no client software installations required, and to be clear, all of the PLM system functionality for end-users, administrators and developers is available through the graphical web browser client out-of-the-box.

All connections to the core Aras Innovator web services (either through the client or integrations) are authenticated against internal controls or your company’s Active-Directory / LDAP authentication.

This results in a secure connection for employees inside the building, employees while traveling, and suppliers, customers and business partners.

All user and programmatic access is authenticated, and the user account is mapped to the roles, groups, and data access rights that are appropriate.

Every class of user that logs on to the PLM will see different data, different forms, and different processes appropriate to their roles and permissions.

As a 100% web-based application it is very easy to extend the PLM system to include external users, so that they are participating directly in business workflows, and interacting directly with product structure data with need-to-know level access and visibility.

 

Distributed & Replicated File Vaulting with Aras

Aras Innovator has a single logical vault abstraction so that all files appeared to be stored in a single vault to end-users.

The physical implementation of the vault server supports both distributed and replicated vaulting of any file-based data.

Aras has many customers with global deployments, and the use of Replicated vaulting ensures that files are located as close to the correct end-users as possible.

 

Customizing in Aras

Aras PLM Life Cycle Map

Aras Innovator Life Cycle "State Model" Map

The Aras Innovator architecture is object oriented, with a simple abstraction that allows non-Ph D IT personnel to be efficient in modifying the system.

We call this process Modeling, and it uses a very simple drag-and-drop graphical metaphor for describing the forms, data, rules and processes that are desired in the production system.

The modeling engine executes directly from this model, meaning that on-going changes over time can be made in real-time, by people that have the appropriate level of permissions.

 

Aras Deployment Environments

While changes can be in a running production system, the Aras recommended practice is to install a minimum of 3 Aras Innovator instances:  Development, Test-Staging and Production.

The Aras modeling language is expressed 100% in XML, and tools are provided for migrating new solutions, or solution changes from one system to another.

Your company is able to develop new ideas, forms, processes, data models, etc. within a development instance of Aras Innovator (can be installed on a laptop for example).

Import those models into a Test instance for regression testing and user acceptance testing.

The same models are then imported into the production server, and the production server dynamically re-configures itself to reflect the new and modified solutions.

This technology is unique to Aras, and is one of the primary reasons that Aras Innovator gets selected for complex, large scale PLM deployments.

 

Enterprise Integrations to Legacy Systems with Aras

Most enterprise integrations to existing legacy systems are implemented as pure Web services connections, either point-to-point or with an ESB or EAI broker such as SAP XI/PI, Oracle Fusion or Microsoft BizTalk for example or using Federation.

Older legacy systems that are not Web Services enabled are integrated using any of the tools in the Microsoft .NET environment (ADO, ODBC, API’s, etc) or through old-school file exchange.

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