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Data Exchange via Software as a Service
As a young joint venture, OSRAM Continental took advantage of the opportunity this offered and moved its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud. This also applies to exchanging product data with customers and suppliers. This is where PROSTEP‘s OpenDXM GlobalX SaaS solution, which is also cloud-based, comes into play. The software provided support for almost all of the lighting specialist‘s use cases from the word go and also reduces the total cost of ownership. But first and foremost, the SaaS solution offers the flexibility required to respond quickly to new requirements.
Shaping the future of automotive lighting is the objective of Munich-based OSRAM Continental GmbH. What this means is intelligently networked lighting that automatically adapts to the driving
situation and improves communication between the driver, the vehicle and the environment. Product development is also networked – distributed across Europe, America and Asia. The two year-old joint venture therefore took advantage of this opportunity and moved its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud. It is therefore only logical that the cloud-based data exchange service OpenDXM GlobalX from Darmstadt-based PROSTEP AG is also used to exchange data with customers and suppliers.
“With the exception of a few applications, everything runs in the cloud,” says Catalina Man, Team Lead IT Operations at OSRAM Continental and, together with her team, responsible for providing support to OpenDXM GlobalX users among other things. “The biggest hurdle encountered on the way to the cloud was changing the employees‘ mindset. We had to convince them that cloud services work just as well as solutions that are installed locally.” The issue of security was also a challenge. “It can‘t be left to the cloud provider alone but instead requires a team that concerns itself with the network and infrastructure,” Catalina Man goes on to say. “The limited human resources available to support the cloud environment was therefore another challenge.”
Data Exchange via Flexible Platform
Therefore, in keeping with its general cloud strategy, OSRAM Continental also decided to use the
OpenDXM GlobalX data exchange platform from the cloud. As Catalina Man points out, there were a number of reasons for choosing PROSTEP‘s software-asa- service (SaaS) solution. “We needed a solution for all the locations that could be implemented quickly and which we could use to securely exchange not only CAD files but also, for example, product marketing videos. We wanted to work with well-known providers and we were familiar with PROSTEP from our parent company Continental. We also knew that the company offered its data exchange platform from the cloud and then discussed our requirements. It ended up that OpenDXM GlobalX was the best fit for us because the software is very flexible and can be implemented quickly.” The SaaS solution is installed in the cloud infrastructure provided by the DARZ data center in Darmstadt, which has been certified by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in accordance with CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) and meets all the requirements stipulated within the framework of DIN/ISO 9001 and 27001 and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). DARZ ensures the highest possible level of protection and data availability with its architecture, infrastructure and building technology. Catalina Man confirms that all OSRAM Continental‘s locations access the cloud infrastructure provided by the Darmstadt data center directly via the Internet and that response time behavior is good.
Integration of OFTP Application
OpenDXM GlobalX is multi-client capable and is also used as a multitenant application by numerous other customers. OSRAM Continental, however, decided on their own instance as it exchanges large volumes of data with carmakers via the OFTP2 protocol. PROSTEP therefore integrated T-Systems‘ OFTP application rvsEVO in the customer‘s data exchange service. It automatically prepares the data to be exchanged for OFTP2 communication when the corresponding recipients are selected. However, for data protection reasons and due to technical restrictions, it can only be used in combination with a private cloud or an instance of its own.
Aside from the OFTP integration, users can use the SaaS solution practically “out of the box”, which makes updates easier. “The software supported almost all our use cases from the word go,“ says
Catalina Man. PROSTEP implemented an important adaptation for OSRAM Continental that has already been incorporated in the standard application. The size of the WebSpaces for individual users and user groups can be defined individually within the storage quota for the licensed number of users and can also be changed. This was previously technically feasible but had to be performed by PROSTEP support staff. Now customer administrators can do this themselves using the intuitive web interface.
Intuitive Web Interface
All key data exchange functions are made available to users via an HTML5-based web interface. With the help of external user interface design specialists, PROSTEP has made this interface more intuitive and ergonomic so that even occasional users can use the application without the need for regular training courses. “The new interface has made the application much easier to use,” says Catalina Man. “At first users had a lot of questions, which is why we worked hard to ensure that they understand the tool and feel comfortable using it. We asked PROSTEP to expand existing documentation to include easy-to-understand explanatory videos for example.” Although the data exchange service is primarily used by developers, OSRAM Continental has not integrated the SaaS solution directly in the PLM environment even though this is technically feasible. “We decided to first make sure that the application is stable for the users,” says Catalina Man. The engineers normally export their CAD data from SAP PLM or SAP ECTR to an appropriate directory, log in to OpenDXM GlobalX using the Web Client, select the files to be exchanged and the respective recipient, and upload them to the platform. Both the files and the exchange processes are encrypted,
thus ensuring a high level of security.
SaaS Reduces the Total Cost of Ownership
The main benefit of the SaaS model for OSRAM Continental is the fact that the company did not have to deal with purchasing and implementing hardware and software. This meant that the data exchange solution was able to go live quickly. It can be scaled up or down as the number of users increases or decreases. No or significantly fewer IT administration and support staff is required. Maintenance of the IT infrastructure and software updates are included in the price, which reduces the total cost of ownership or at least makes it easier to calculate. In a new company, where the entire IT organization has yet to be established, internal resources are scarce. A cloud-based, out-of the-box solution is therefore the perfect solution. “For me, the key advantage of the SaaS solution is its flexibility, which makes it possible to respond quickly to new requirements,” says Catalina Man, who is very happy with the support PROSTEP provides and the quality of the support. Review meetings, at which the experts from PROSTEP explain new features and capture new requirements, are held twice a year following the updates. “The team is very flexible and implements our requirements quickly,” explains Catalina Man in conclusion. “That is crucial to the
success of our collaboration.”
Michael Wendenburg, freelance trade journalist for CAx and PLM, Seville
KEM Konstruktion – The Engineering Magazine 09/2020