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Simulation Data Management

Simulation Driven Design processes generate large amounts of data and many files. Without a system in place to manage this content, users can quickly become overwhelmed and lost. In a typical engineering environment, much of this data is of a temporary nature and is not intended for long term storage. The in-process tracking of these files, however, is critical for collaboration and coordination of design efforts. The current best practice is to use a shared drive. Shared drives, however, have significant deficiencies:

  • No metadata for describing content
  • No search capabilities for finding content
  • No change notification for monitoring data and files
  • No content dependencies for maintaining data pedigrees
  • No version control for maintaining revisions
  • No file/folder locking for protecting data

Despite serious deficiencies, shared file systems do have one major benefit: most engineers are familiar with them and are comfortable using them as part of their day-to-day activities. The Phoenix Integration data management component, AnalysisLibrary®, has been designed with this fact in mind.

Like a shared drive, AnalysisLibrary is built around a centralized server for managing all content that is copied to it. It manages files in the same way a file server does by assigning owners to files and controlling access to those files. In fact, from the user’s point of view, AnalysisLibrary is simply a more powerful replacement for the familiar shared drive system. The desktop user interface is an intuitive drag and drop application called Analysis Explorer that looks and behaves like the file management tools (such as Windows Explorer®) that engineers already use as part of their daily work.

Key elements of the AnalysisLibrary are:

Rich Meta-Data Each file stored in the Analysis Library can be associated with a rich set of meta-data (descriptions, key words, summary data, notes, etc.). Arbitrary XML meta-data objects can be attached to any file or folder in the repository, where they can be viewed and searched.

Browse and Search A rich set of tools and user interfaces allow engineers to browse and search the contents of the data repository. A “Google-like” keyword based search mechanism allows users to quickly find the content they are looking for. Users are able to search for content using keywords, dates, owners, filenames, file contents, and any other meta-data attached to the file.

Version Control All files and meta-data managed by the data repository are automatically put under version control. If multiple versions of a file or data item exist, users will be able to compare the versions with each other, see a record of the changes (what was changed, who changed it, etc.), and utilize the version of their choice.

Content Dependencies Using simulation results for decision making requires the understanding of the context of a simulation.  The ability to track which version of the CAD model was used together with what simulation parameters (input deck) and mesh is crucial to (re-)using simulation results at any time.  AnalysiLibrary allows for both, automatic capture of dependencies or user prescribed connections.

Access Control An authentication and access control infrastructure limits access to contents based on individual and group user permissions. Access control is implemented using Access-Control Lists (ACL). Each resource on the server either has its own ACL or inherits from its parent. Individual users or groups may be granted read, write, or administrative access.

Change Notification Individual users can elect to be notified by email whenever a particular file, folder, or group of items is modified.

Web Access In addition to the familiar Windows Explorer style drag-and-drop user interface, there are a number of other methods for accessing the data repository. All content can be accessed as URLs in any web browser.

Complete API An extensive .NET, COM, and Java API provides full access to all server functionality. This API can be used to create custom clients or to provide access to the repository from external applications.

External File Management AnalysisLibrary is capable of maintaining links or “short-cuts” to files residing on external file system or in Product Data Management (PDM) tools. It is possible to associate meta-data with these files (and to include this meta-data in a search).

Security Clients are able to communicate with the server via HTTPS (SSL-encrypted) as well as unencrypted HTTP.

Standard Support Files can be accessed using the WebDAV standard. This means that AnalysisLibrary is compatible with a variety of 3rd party tools right out of the box. In addition to WebDAV, AnalysisLibrary is built on XML, SOAP, and http standards.