Posts Tagged ‘Federation’

Federation with ERP, PDM, Legacy Systems and Cloud-based data using Aras

June 20, 2012

MarcL: PLM solution must be capable of integrating with the ERP system so that data is available in PLM such as material costing, inventory on-hand, etc. Please describe how this is possible.

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator includes a standard service called Federation. This Web service can be used for integrations with legacy applications (called Federations) that expose attributes from the legacy system, such as Cost attributes in SAP, with the materials data stored in PLM.

For the end-users, they will see a single form, with data in the correct context that has all the information they need to perform a task (or workflow or report) without knowing the actual data storage location of those data.

This data does not need to be view-only, but can be editable as well. It is managed by the same need-to-know security permissions in Aras so the users have access to only the data they are authorized to see, add, update, etc.

Secure Federation capabilities in Aras are not limited to on-premise systems, and can include Cloud-based data sets as well like component databases, compliance validation and other data sets of authority in the Cloud.

The flexibility of the Aras Innovator PLM system even allows federation configurations in which all Part, Material and BOM data are authored in ERP, and PLM is just a viewing portal.

However, most companies prefer to develop parts, materials, cost models and other product data within the PLM solution, and after workflow review & approval, drive this cost data to the ERP once it becomes “Released”.

The same type of system Federation can be performed with legacy PDM / PLM systems in use in your company as well. This can be useful if existing PDM systems are in place at various sites for CAD management, although more robust PLM capabilities are needed for complicated processes like NPDI, enterprise change, supply chain, quality or outsourced manufacturing.

The “right” configuration depends on your organization, business practices, and the level of complexity of your products and development process.

Aras architects and certified partners can help you evaluate your company’s requirements during the initial phase of your deployment and recommend a configuration that is optimized for your company’s specific competitive practices.

We provide training on how to do federated integrations with other systems like ERP as well as how to administer these capabilities.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘Integration and Federation in the Enterprise with Aras’ and ‘ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras‘ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Integration’.

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Integration and Federation in the Enterprise with Aras

June 19, 2012

MarcL: How is integration with other business systems in the enterprise supported? What tools are provided to accomplish this? Are any additional software packages / costs associated?

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator is a 100% pure Web services architecture.  All data and all processes are accessed at the Web services layer in Aras.

Many systems such as CAD applications and ERP systems have Out-of-the-Box packaged integration connectors available from 3rd parties that implement a direct point-to-point integration between Aras Innovator and the other system. For example, integration (in-session) from CATIA to Aras and Cadence Alegro to Aras.

Use of an integration bus such as Oracle Fusion or Netweaver is supported, as well as, custom point-to-point integrations with legacy applications using Web services.  You can interface to the Aras Innovator server directly using XML / SOAP, or you can create a WSDL (Web Services Description Language) for the specific business objects you want to interface with.

An important capability that should also be highlighted here is Federation.

One of the core services in the Aras Innovator platform is a Federation service.

With Federation, the administrator uses the Aras Innovator Solution Studio (our graphical drag-and-drop interface) to define the business objects and properties that are stored in a legacy application / database.

The Federated items are then linked to a .NET method to exchange data, this is normally Web services, but all .NET integration capabilities are available such as API binding, ODBC, flat file handling, etc.

At that point the remote data is treated like internal PLM data in Aras Innovator, and can be displayed in forms, used in workflows, added to versioned configurations, acted on / edited by any of the Aras functionality and can be controlled by the Aras Innovator security model.

With all these integration approaches you can add data transforms, business rules and other techniques to address complex scenarios.

We provide training on how to integrate and federate as well as administer these capabilities.

We’ve used a transparent data model with open industry standards and modern platform capabilities to make Aras Innovator the easiest enterprise PLM solution to integrate with. This is because PLM is never a stand-alone system in the enterprise.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras‘ and ‘BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Integration’.

Aras PLM Integration

Aras Innovator Integrates to Systems Across the Enterprise

Using PLM Change Control Workflows to Manage the PLM System’s Own Definition in Aras

June 4, 2012

MarcL: The PLM solution should be able to have workflows managed by the system itself as objects that can be placed under change control and can be assigned versions.

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator’s Workflow Maps (e.g. Aras term for the business process definition) are Item Types (e.g. business object) in the PLM system.

As such they have permissions, versions, and can be controlled by their own change approval workflow.   In this way, the PLM is used to control its own internal system definition of processes.

This style of change management for the PLM system can also be applied to Forms, Lifecycles, business rules, etc.

NOTE:  while Aras can be used to control its own system/process definition,  and changes can be made in real-time by real-people,  this is not the recommended best practice after the system Go-Live to production.

At one point in the evolution of a PLM deployment the end-users are thrilled that PLM change requests (add a field, change the form, etc) are made in real-time as fast as they ask for the changes.

Later though, if the form layout continues to change in real-time when they are using the system,  the video arcade effect of the moving buttons will affect productivity.

The recommended best practice after Go-Live is to instantiate three instances of the PLM solution;  Development, Test, and Production.

All model changes made using the Solution Studio drag-and-drop design tools, can be exported as XML Packages, and easily moved between Aras Innovator instances (this is also how we synchronize federated networks of separate Aras Innovator instances).

Normal practice is to move multiple Packages from development to Test for integration testing, and then at defined intervals, move the tested Packages into the Production environment for rollout.

We provide training on how to tailor, customize and manage Aras Innovator’s workflows and business items.

For additional information see ‘PLM Solution Tailoring and Customization by End Users in Aras’ and ‘Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras’.

BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras

May 31, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should support custom workflow processes with the steps in the flow being sequential and / or parallel in the same process. There must be tools provided to support changes and customization of the processes as well.

Peter Schroer:

Aras PLM Software Simple DCO Workflow Process

Simple Out-of-the-Box DCO Workflow Process in Aras Innovator

The Aras Innovator platform a pure Web services architecture, where everything is a service.

It includes a Workflow service which is effectively a robust, general-purpose BPM (business process management) capability instead of a hard-coded engineering change workflow module like other PLM systems.

The Aras Workflow service supports multi-step processes, with combinations of serial and parallel activities, branching, looping, dynamically assigned roles based on business rules, and is inherently integrated with all of the other functionality in our PLM solutions.

XEROX Aras Custom PLM Software Global Change Process

XEROX’s Custom Global Change Workflow Process in Aras Innovator

The BPM capabilities are very robust and scalable.   A workflow process can be really simple, like start-action-end,         or very complex with multiple parallel paths, conditional business rules, weighted voting and integrations to SAP or other legacy systems.

In fact, Aras Innovator’s workflows can be used as part of the complete PLM suite or in a federated approach to provide only the new functionality needed on top of and integrated with existing systems.  In this way, you can modernize and add secure Web capabilities to older systems like PDMs, ERPs, etc.

Workflows can be customized and extended or you can create entirely new workflow processes from scratch by Modeling them in Aras Innovator’s browser-based graphical Solution Studio (e.g. without complex programming).

Aras PLM Software Solution Studio Workflow Customize

Example of Run-Time Workflow Modification using Solution Studio in a Dev Instance of Aras

You can customize the workflow’s process steps, change the schema, add business rules and make modifications    and you are doing it in Real-Time.

When you Save, the changes are instantly propagated and the next time an instance of the process is initiated it will include the changes.

Of course we strongly recommend the best practice of having separate environments for dev, test/staging and production. Moving customizations from instance to instance only takes a couple of minutes.

Aras is unique with the technology to allow real-time process and data model changes, because of our model-based architecture. 

You will be trained to use the integrated Solution Studio for drag-and-drop designing and modifying of workflow processes (similar UI to Visio, except it’s the actual running system).

For more info on these capabilities see ‘Change Process Definition, SOA Workflow Service and Integration in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’ or ‘Business Process‘.

ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras

May 22, 2012

MarcL: How is Object Approval capability linked to the ERP system so that specific item / material masters (e.g. parts, BOMs, components, packaging, part numbers, etc.) can be automatically setup by the PLM solution?

Peter Schroer:

The recommended best practice is to use Aras Innovator to master the definitions of Parts, Materials, BOMs, and packaging and then upon release, these data are uploaded to the corporate ERP system(s).

At the beginning of a project it is normal to use a one-time export and batchload from ERP to PLM to create the initial data set.

Links between PLM and ERP follow a “federated architecture” in which not all data is 100% replicated.

For example,  cost, inventory, kit-code data within the ERP might be useful information for a PLM user to see within the PLM screens (and use in Workflow business logic).

The Aras approach is to federate the 2 data sources so that data that is mastered in the ERP is linked to (web services) rather than copied periodically into the PLM.

In this way,  a single form within PLM may contain data from multiple data-sources,  but the end-user is not aware of IT architecture decisions.

The user sees all information they need to perform a task on one screen and can act/edit it, and Aras does not care whether IT has decided to actually store the data in PLM.

For additional information on these capabilities see posts tagged ‘Federation’.

Item Number Generation and Cross Referencing in Aras

April 6, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions must support the assignment of new numbers, and it should be possible to have the system assign automatically the next available number based on rules. Many companies also need multiple numbering of the same information such as part #s, doc #s, spec #s, equipment #s and other identifying numbers, as well as, provide cross-references and allow data to be retrieved by any number that is applicable to it. For example, users should be able to enter a supplier part number and find the internal id number and access the record/document itself.

Peter Schroer:

PLM Software Item Numbering

Item Numbering in PLM

You are able to modify the business object definitions to create multiple searchable identifiers (internal part number, supplier part number, SKU, old legacy number, etc) and all of these numbers are available for searching and cross reference.

The Aras Innovator platform includes a rules-based identifier creation service (we call Sequences).   Sequences are used for unique identifiers on any object such as part numbers, document numbers, supplier IDs, corrective action IDs, ECR #s, etc.

You can combine the automatic Sequence generator with business object-specific attributes such as classification, part family, lifecycle state, etc. to create intelligent numbering schemes.

A typical example would be a prefix based on classification followed by 6 digits from a sequence, followed by a Suffix based on part family.

You can also pull numbers from other systems, such as getting new part numbers from the ERP environment like SAP or generating document numbers from an existing PDM system like Teamcenter or Windchill.

And of course you can do manual entry of numbering as well.

With Aras Innovator you can combine all of these approaches for different aspects of the system and different processes.

You might have Part numbers come from different sources depending on the Part’s classification, organization, etc.

Mechanical part numbers at the Aerospace division come from Teamcenter, whereas mech part #s in the Oil & Gas division are pulled from Windchill and the Industrial group uses the Aras Sequences services with specific dash (-) designations. And then maybe all Supplier IDs are generated in SAP.

Or you could just use our OOTB numbering for all of these different Items.    It’s up to you and it’s not hard.  We provide training on how to set-up, administer and modify these capabilities yourself.

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Aras Innovator, High Level Architecture Diagrams

February 29, 2012
Here are a couple architectural diagrams for Aras Innovator that we use to describe the platform.
 
 
Aras Model-based SOA

High Level Architecture Diagram for Aras Innovator

 
Aras Model-based SOA Platform

Architectural Diagram Detail for Aras Innovator

Aras Innovator, High Level Architecture Description

February 27, 2012

 

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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