With SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional 2017, a database server replication feature was introduced. To fully understand the benefits of this addition and why it is so significant, it’s imperative to have basic knowledge of the PDM server infrastructure and the “replication” concept. Will will explore all of these elements in this blog.
The PDM server components include:
- PDM Database Server
- SQL Server Standard Edition
- PDM Archive Server
- SolidNetWork License Manager (honorable mention)
Recall from the recent Archive Server Replication blog post, replication of the archive server for physical files has been around for a while and meets the needs of many. If you haven’t checked out that article, please do. A firm grasp of that replication model will help your understanding of this one.
The introduction of the replicated database server addresses several previous limitations. With this setup, you’re able to reduce the impact of latency for operations related to the user interface. There is a boost in software responsiveness as information is displayed. It is important to note, however, that these performance implications are for read-only actions; clients must still communicate with the main SQL Server for actions that write to the database (like checking in files).
To use the database server replication functionality, here are the prerequisites:
- PDM Professional 2017 or later
- Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise edition 2012 or later for each of the servers that will replicate the vault database. The SQL Server Standard Edition does not include this functionality. The SQL licenses that are sold together with SOLIDWORKS PDM seats also do not include this functionality.
- Microsoft SQL Enterprise servers set up as nodes in a Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC)
- AOAG (Always On Availability Group) architecture on SQL Server Enterprise edition
After meeting these requirements, you can enable the PDM Professional setting for database replication and configure PDM users and groups accordingly. The vault administrator determines who utilizes which servers. This is a flexible setup that is seamless to the end user. In the event of a secondary server failure, there is an automatic switch to the primary server. The vault administrator can set that timeout period.
Here is a pictorial overview of the setup, with red lines indicating direct communication between archive servers for physical file replication and a blue line representing the necessary framework for the primary and secondary database servers to support database replication.
Benefits include increased scalability with load balancing. The workload of the primary database server can be relieved by up to eight secondary servers if using SQL Server Enterprise Edition 2014 or SQL Server Enterprise Edition 2016. For SQL Server Enterprise Edition 2012, you can configure up to four secondary read-only replicas. This could reduce locking and blocking in the SQL environment. Since the read-only database copies (in the secondary locations) are full database copies, this setup also enhances your disaster recovery model.
Database replication can help improve performance in high latency environments by employing a single read-write primary database and multiple read-only secondary databases. Ultimately, the time it takes to transfer files and metadata depends on the size and speed of your network. Replication features are meant to augment your existing network environment to make the user experience faster and more productive in the PDM Professional vault.
If you have vault users at more than one site and think that database server replication could boost performance for those distant clients, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional info.
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