By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Siemens PLM Software — the company formerly known as UGS Corp., which was the company formerly known as Unigraphics and before that EDS PLM Solutions — is among the elite PLM developers. They’d tell you that they are number 1, noting that the three million installed licenses of Teamcenter at small, medium, and large businesses is many times more than the install base of the next outfit. None of that, however, is what’s really cool about Teamcenter 2007, the newest version of their PLM suite.
The thing that caught my eye is the fact that Chuck Grindstaff and his crew have completed the job of transforming Teamcenter into a service-oriented architecture (SOA). SOA makes Teamcenter 2007 an integrated, dynamic PLM system that works across disciplines, project phases, and programs. SOA is the wave of the future. It’s also the stuff that books are written about, so cut me slack all you callous cognoscenti as I try to wax poetic about it.
What SOA lets you do is use your single-purpose business processes, their complementary tasks, and data as your enterprise knowledge base and resource development kit. SOA injects flexibility into your process by enabling applications to share functions and data. It coordinates these activities. The interoperability enabled by SOA lets you connect functions and processes to create new applications and processes to meet your unique, ad hoc, and evolving requirements.
The key is services. A service is a task or function in an application that can independently interface with external applications and other services. A service performs its duties in a standardized manner that an external application understands. SOA provides an infrastructure for locating and connecting services as well as routing data among services and end users.
SOA enables applications to call upon any service to perform its function. Neither the service nor the application invoking the service is required to know the platform the other runs on. They don’t have to have pre-existing knowledge of how the other works. Each, however, has to adhere to the rules, such as a common communications protocol.
In practical terms, SOA enables you to reduce repetitive data entry and expand collaboration because Teamcenter 2007 creates the single source of product and process knowledge. This, in turn, means that you can connect workgroups throughout your company, around the world, and from your partners.
While you’re at it, you lower your cost of ownership by eliminating customizations and reducing your need for integration projects. Oh, and SOA lets you update software easily. It also provides users a common interface, which pares away training costs.
In short, SOA is cool, and I have barely scratched the surface of its possibilities. For that matter, I haven’t touched upon the other new stuff in Teamcenter 2007 like a new requirements manager, new materials management module, better multi-MCAD interoperability, and all sorts of conveniences to make the IT department’s life easier.
In today’s Pick of the Week write-up, you’ll also find links to an overview brochure and to the Teamcenter 2007 website. On the Teamcenter 2007 website, check out the videos to get a taste of the vast potential that Teamcenter 2007 can help you tap. I’m about halfway through the videos, and I’ve not been asked to register. I’m finding them well worth my time. You will too.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering magazine