Update: This utility is no longer available.
The first release of the Vault/PLM 360 integration has been released. Just like with the SharePoint 2010 integration, I was involved in the design and implementation of this tool. So I thought I would share my thoughts on the project and go over the technical details.
You can get PLM 360 Sync from the subscription center. PLM 360 Sync only works with Vault Professional 2013 since items are the only things synchronized in R1.
Integration is in the eye of the beholder
Everyone reading this post probably has a different idea on what a Vault/PLM 360 integration means. For this reason, it’s hard to put out a single utility that is supposed to serve everyone’s needs. We solved this problem by taking an incremental approach. This first release is not meant to be everything to everyone. It has a limited feature set which we will be building on in future releases.
This incremental approach allows us to gather feedback. Based on that feedback we will add new features, expand on what is working well and fix things that are not working well.
Currently, the PLM 360 discussion group is the best place to give feedback. Your suggestions will definitely get more eyeballs than comments on blog.
The R1 Feature Set
Item Synchronization (one way) - Released and obsolete items in Vault get replicated to PLM.
Seamless Integration - The idea is that the average Vault user doesn’t have to do anything special. They just use Vault as normal, and all the integration stuff happens in the background.
Configurability - The Vault administrator has a lot of options regarding what and how data gets synchronized.
Property Mapping - Any Vault item property (except thumbnails) can be mapped to a PLM field.
Revision History - When an item is synchronized, all revisions get synchronized. So you can view the item history in PLM 360 just like you can in Vault.
BOM - The entire BOM is synchronized, not just a single item. Again, the result is an identical data in Vault and PLM 360.
Item Selection - By default, all released and obsolete items get synchronized. However, you can use the search mechanism to specify exactly what Vault items should be copied.
Multiple Tenants\Workspaces - Your items don’t have to go to one and only one spot in PLM 360. You can sync your items to multiple locations in PLM 360. Each location can have its own criteria. For example, all Vault items from project X can go to one spot in PLM 360 while items from project Y go to a different location.
Bulk Load - If you are starting with a lot of Vault items, you can queue them up for synchronization with a click of the Rebuild History button. This is also a good tool to have if something goes wrong and you are unsure of which items are replicated and which are not.
Error Handling - If something goes wrong with a synchronization, for example a mapped property no longer exists in PLM 360, the result is an error job in the Vault Job queue. Once the problem is fixed, the Vault admin can re-submit the job.
Does Not Consume a Vault License - During regular operations, the sync tool does not use up a Vault license. This feature is possible because the tool only reads from Vault. If/when we add a 2-way sync feature, we may have to require a license at that point.
There are 2 main parts to PLM 360 Sync. There is a Sync Service and there is a configuration command. The configuration command is in Vault Explorer, and it’s what the administrator uses to determine which Vault items go to which workspaces in PLM 360.
The Sync Service is a Windows Service that does the actual work. It reads data from Vault, connects to PLM 360, determines what needs to be updated and makes the changes to PLM 360.
Here is the basic order of operations:
- User releases an item in Vault.
- Vault server adds a job to the job queue indicating that an item has changed. This step does not happen immediately.
- Sync Service reads the job off the job queue and performs the necessary updates in PLM 360. This step also does not happen immediately.
The Job Queue is pretty central to how PLM 360 Sync works. The queue tells the Sync Service which items may need to be synchronized. It also is a repository for errors that may happen. It’s very important that there be a way to re-do a sync in the case of a failure.
Even though the job queue is used, Job Processor has nothing to do with PLM 360 Sync. The Sync Service talks directly to the job queue, so Job Processor is not required. Sync Service and Job Processor are completely orthogonal to each other. The actions of one do not affect the actions of the other. For example, if Job Processor is busy with 1000 DWF create jobs, the Sync Service runs as normal. It does NOT have to wait for the 1000 DWF jobs to complete.
Under the Hood - Brian Schanen goes through the configuration steps.
Design and Motion - Scott Moyse provides his insights.
PLM 360 Discussion Group - Give us your feedback.
Cracking the Vault - Where to get the tool.