One option is to upgrade the hardware-but in these budget-cutting times, that can be expensive. Servers, workstations, switches and cables have all dropped in price, but are still expensive to upgrade. A lower-cost option to consider is upgrading the existing software to what is often called “enterprise class.”
Enterprise-class software is intended to solve an enterprise problem rather than a departmental problem. An enterprise may consist of two facilities across town or 50 facilities around the globe. Regardless of enterprise size, manufacturers still need performance and robustness from their software.
Enterprise-class software is made for scalability, high performance and robustness. It must be capable of supporting both large databases and large numbers of users. It also must offer excellent security, reliable database backups and perhaps integration with other software applications. Most enterprisewide software will use a commercial enterprise-class database management system (DBMS) from vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle or IBM. These systems run on large mainframes, mid-range computers or powerful microcomputers-typically a high-end Windows/Unix/Linux-based server, mainframe or a high-end Unix, Linux or Windows NT machine. The enterprise DBMS usually includes multiprocessor support, parallel queries, clustering and other performance enhancing and fail-safe features.
Examples of enterprisewide software that a manufacturer may already be familiar with are ERP, CAM or CRM systems. Internet-based systems such as those for online banking, shopping and searching also are examples of enterprisewide software. Each of these examples requires software that delivers scalability, performance and robustness.
Enterprisewide software for quality management, testing and inspection provides the business logic support functionality, enabling enterprises to improve product quality and service. Other benefits will include productivity and efficiency gains.
In addition to performance, scalability and robustness, other characteristics such as interoperability, integration and central management also are important.
Speed is important. Answer the question, “How long am I willing to wait for my data?” The data might be in the form of a table of records, a record entry screen, a report or perhaps a graph. Most people are impatient and want that data instantly. On a practical side, however, there is always some amount of wait time. Can the operator wait 10 seconds, 1 second or half a second?
Performance is affected by many factors, including the server, network speed, available bandwidth and workstation. Hardware upgrades will certainly help improve performance if the budget allows for them. However, if the company’s budget is for enterprisewide software only, then the software chosen must run on the existing system. If this is the case, choose software that is engineered for good performance even on older and slower hardware and networks.
Ask the software vendor for performance metrics and be prepared to give the vendor the operating environment, expected database size and expected number of concurrent users that will be accessing the software database at peak times. If the software will be running on the same server as other enterprisewide software applications, also provide the total server user counts as well.
Check out the October 2020 edition of Quality: Understanding laser trackers, Industry 4.0, All-in-one QMS solutions for practical data management, how Edge AI improves the visual inspection process, and much more!