A One-Man Show: Maintenance Tips from a Solo CAxPLM Administrator

A One-Man Show: Maintenance Tips from a Solo CAxPLM Administrator

Larry Carpenter, P.E.
Teamcenter Unified SIG Leader

Introduction

I am all alone: a single person tasked with maintaining our entire Multi-CAD Multi-Site Teamcenter environment. I am responsible for our database, several Teamcenter application servers, and about 85 Teamcenter CAD clients (on multiple OSes) spread out across the USA. I’m not even an IT person. I am a mechanical engineer in an R&D group. This is my story of how I am able to stay afloat managing a CAxPLM environment as the sole CAxPLM administrator for my company.

It can be overwhelming for one person to handle all of these responsibilities, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to doing this alone is to minimize the number of tasks you need to perform by taking advantage of automation.

1) Automate your DB maintenance tasks.

2) Automate your TC server maintenance tasks.

3) Automate your TC client install/configure tasks.

4) Automate anything else that can use automation.

The Database

I am not a certified DBA, but I had to learn enough to setup and maintain a production database for use with Teamcenter. I’ve used Oracle over the years at other companies for Teamcenter, but for my current company I chose MS SQL 2005 to host our Teamcenter database since it was easier to learn for a “do-it-yourselfer” type like, well, myself.

SQL can be easily maintained via the Server Management Studio GUI. Within it, there are Wizards that can assist you with specific tasks such as automating backups, maintenance tasks, and performance tuning. I don’t want to make this a MS SQL specific article, so I will only suggest a few things for SQL. (Maybe I’ll write a SQL specific article some other time.)

Here are some things that you can automate for SQL:

1) Use the Maintenance Plan Wizard to schedule backups (full, diff, trans logs) for the database at regular intervals.

2) Use the Maintenance Plan Wizard to schedule a rebuild or reorganization of your indexes and to update statistics nightly for improved performance.

3) Use the SQL Server Profiler and the Database Engine Tuning Advisor occasionally to analyze, recommend, and implement changes to improve performance.

4) Create Alerts that automatically run maintenance tasks when a problem arises such as low disk space and then email you to let you know about it.

Teamcenter Servers

Depending on your server configurations, you may have very little or quite a lot of regular maintenance and clean up tasks to perform. For example, you may have a need to delete temp or junk files that accrue over time, or you may want to defragment the hard drives nightly or weekly. There are also several Teamcenter maintenance utilities that should be executed regularly in the off hours to keep Teamcenter running smoothly. Performing any or all of these tasks manually just plain stinks, so automate them!

1) Create scripts to run maintenance utilities, delete temp files, and defrag your drives.

2) Create Scheduled Tasks (or cron jobs) to run these scripts in the off hours at regular intervals.

Use Performance Monitor to keep an eye on your servers from afar. This is very useful to track down system bottlenecks.

Use Remote Desktop or other remote access tools to login and maintain servers from your own office computer with having to walk, drive, or fly to the servers.

Teamcenter Clients

There are two issues when it comes to clients: Installs/Updates and User Support.

Installs/Updates

Installing and/or updating dozens of clients manually while responding to numerous prompts from each piece of software is error prone, time consuming, and boring. For me, it’s the worst part of the job. So, automate it! Better yet, delegate it, too!

1) Create silent install scripts that you can have users run themselves or have them deployed via a push technology such as SMS.

I have written a recent newsletter article and presented on this topic twice in the past at PLM World. You can find my past presentations on the PLM World Website. They are:

• Deploying I-DEAS, NX, & TC Engineering Via Install Scripts – PLM World 2007

• Deploying NX, I-DEAS, & Teamcenter Via Silent Install Scripts – PLM World 2008

The last PLM World Newsletter published my article Simplifying Teamcenter Deployment to Multiple Clients via TEM.

User Support

Supporting users at remote locations, even if a location is in a nearby building, can be difficult and eat up a lot of your time. There are remote access and collaboration tools such as Remote Desktop, MS Live Meeting, and NetMeeting that can help you troubleshoot problems or assist users trying to do something.

Summary

I intentionally left out details on exactly how to implement these ideas because those details would vary, depending on your specific IT infrastructure and needs. However, if you have questions on how to implement any of these ideas, you can post your questions to the PLM World Teamcenter Forum or send me an email.

Although it’s not easy to do on your own, managing a CAxPLM environment can become a much better experience if taking advantage of task automation and remote tools.

Thank You,

Larry Carpenter, P.E.
Teamcenter Unified SIG Leader

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