In this third article on Product Data Management, we’ll talk about the Autodesk Vault architecture.

To see the previous article, you can click the next link: Product Data Management: What is Autodesk Vault?

Autodesk Vault How is it composed?
As we discussed in our previous article, Autodesk Vault is composed of two main components:

  • The Server
  • The Client

In addition, there are some other additional components that we’ll mention later.

The Autodesk Vault Server

It is the one that stores the main copies of all documents and designs. By saving all the data in a common and centralized location for all users, you can share the information with the rest of the members of the design teams and manage that information more easily. This centralized location is called Warehouse (Vault).
This vault is a repository where documents and files are stored and managed.
The server consists of three primary components:
  • A Web Server: This component is in charge of the communication between the server and the clients, since this communication is made through the HTTP protocol (in fact, XML over HTTP). In this way, all queries to the server generate very low network traffic, except for the times when files are exchanged. This function is done through Microsoft Internet Information Services (or IIS).
  • A Data Base: It stores information of various types: file properties data (metadata), security data (user credentials, profiles, etc.). The databases are managed through Microsoft SQL Server.
  • A File Store: In the File Store is where the files are actually saved. The files will be saved with their names encoded (this data that is also saved in the database).

Each vault that is created within the system is composed of a database and a file store.
The three components can be installed in the same server or, for space or processing capacity needs, they can be installed separately in different equipment.

The Autodesk Vault Client

The Autodesk Vault Client can be a stand-alone application or an integrated add-in to other applications that connects to the Vault Server to access the files and execute operations in the vault.
The Autodesk Vault Client types can be:

  • Vault Client: Also known as Autodesk Vault Explorer, that allows you to explore the complete structure of the vault, add files and execute most of the operations on the files, depending on the level of user permissions. You can configure revision schemes, name schemes, life cycle behaviors, manage items, change orders, and other administrative tasks. The administrative functions available will depend on which edition of Autodesk Vault is being used.
  • Vault Thin Client: The Autodesk Vault Thin Client allows the user to explore the contents of the vault. If, in addition, you have an Autodesk Vault Office license, you can also perform administrative tasks with some types of files, such as: adding Microsoft Office files to the vault or check-in or out of those files.
  • Vault Add-in Client: They are add-ins that provide functions of the vault within the environment of the applications. As a rule, if the integrated Vault client is available for any application, managing the files using it ensures the integrity of the data, for example: relationships between components of an assembly in Inventor or external references between AutoCAD files. An additional advantage provided by these add-ins is to be able to interact with the vault without having to leave the application in which you are working.
  • Vault Office Client: It’s similar to the Vault Client, but it provides management options for non-CAD files (for example: Microsoft Word, Excel or Power Point files). It’s ideal for users who don’t need all the functionalities for CAD files provided by the Vault Client.

Autodesk Vault editions

Autodesk Vault is a family of products designed to meet the needs of users.
The different editions of Autodesk Vault allow you to choose the functionalities and workflow solutions that best adapt to the specific needs of the job.

Autodesk Vault Basic
It’s the most basic edition of the family. It allows you to securely save and manage data in a centralized location, helping work teams quickly create, share and reuse design information. Users have basic control over the versions of the files stored in the vault and can package the files very easily for the purpose of sharing the design information.
This edition has no licensing cost, but has a restriction: the client console can only be installed on a computer that has an installed Autodesk design application (except for the LT versions). In other words, it can only be used by users who work with design applications.

Autodesk Vault Workgroup
Autodesk Vault Workgroup allows work teams to create and share designs and associated engineering information, organizing, managing and tracking data in a centralized location.
Simple and centralized administration allows the work team to control access to data and security and facilitates design by teams even between different disciplines. Because they can quickly manage their designs and track changes over time, users gain in productivity without altering the natural workflow. In addition, Autodesk Vault Workgroup adds revision and life cycle control processes, directly from the design application, which promotes shorter work cycles and better quality and consistency of engineering data.

Autodesk Vault Professional
It is the most complete edition of the family. Autodesk Vault Professional safely saves and manages engineering information, design data and associated documents, shortening design processes to construction or manufacturing.
It includes multi-site tools to connect workgroups in different geographical locations, helping the entire design chain to collaborate and share project information, regardless of their geographic location.
It takes full advantage of advanced features by giving design departments the tools they need to track change orders, manage bill of materials (BOM) and promote collaboration with the rest of the company from the start, through integration with expert business systems (ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning).
In addition, it supports multiple CAD environments, which means that Autodesk Vault users who use non-Autodesk design products can add and manage design data throughout their lifecycle.

In the following image you can see a comparative table between some of the features of the different Autodesk Vault editions.

In the next article we’ll continue with the topic of Product Data Management and we’ll begin to see the interaction of Autodesk Vault with AutoCAD.

To see the next article, you can click in the next link: Product Data Management: AutoCAD and Autodesk Vault