17 Replies Latest reply on Oct 6, 2017 5:40 PM by Rich Chatfield

    Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers

    Rich Chatfield

      My company is growing and we are anticipate adding about 15 engineers within the next 3 months.


      We want to setup a robust server running PDM pro and I am looking for recommendations on servers.


      Assume budget around $3,500 - $7,000


      Please provide links to any server you would recommend purchasing and using.



        • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
          Rich Chatfield

          87 views and not one response? Did I not ask the question correctly or is there no one on this forum that wants to offer any help? Seems to me its a pretty straight forward question. I figured people who have experience with this would be able to make a quick recommendation.


          My understanding of the proper setup is to actually have two machines. 1 is to be used for storage (no antivirus software) and the other to run the SQL database.


          If this is true, can anyone offer any suggestion or insights on what I need for these two machines?

            • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
              Ville Makinen

              Hey, I am not a sysadmin by trade my self, but I am CAD-administering our soon to be 1 year PDM Pro -system. I don't have exact server models, but below are some observations I have made during the journey. We have 25 pdm licenses at the moment, with around 15 concurrent active users daily, who add around 200-400 new files weekly, haven't checked the versions / week.


              Our PDM setup is heavily tailored for our needs, our data card for parts & assemblies have around 90+ variable fields which is a lot more than the VAR default deployments and the usual vaults I think. We haven't had any noticeable slow downs yet, browsing to folders with moderate amount of files / selecting files with data card shown, both have around 1 second delay. Entering a folder with about 700 files with 8 variable columns takes 3 second. I've run smaller test enviroments on a local computer with SSD and even there the delays seem to be pretty much the same, so around 1 second for everything and little bit longer when there are a lot of files inside folders.


              Our current setup is following:

              • Server cluster virtualized with VMware, virtualization seems to work great, have't had issues. Easy to upgrade/fix server hardware possible to use failover to keep service running if main system malfunctions.
              • 1 Dedicated virtual machine to PDM Pro Archive / Database
              • Allocated 8 Core Xeon @ 2.0ghz, cores are not dedicated to this VM only. I rarely see our server go over 20% usage with 8 cores with the around 15 active users.
              • 16gb ram, SQL server reserving around 5gb of memory, 50% of system ram "free", in reality all of free memory is holding "standby" data which should help SQL a bit as well?
              • Shared raid array,(mechanical drives) multiple Virtual machines use the same array.
              • Server2012R2 & SQL2014


              My tips:

              1. Archive server seems to be very lightweight process, if you wan't to maximize the IO, I think all that is needed is to have the archive at different disk array, no need to split to different servers, easier to manage also. With hundreds of users the situation might change.
              2. If splitting database & archive to different arrays, consider using SSD-drives for database & system, don´t know how small enterprise drives you can get, but you don't need large ones. Our database backup is weighing around 300mb at the moment after like 8 months of active use( I think around 8000 files with a lot of version). SQL caches nicely to memory but the SSDs could give some small boost to database when stuff is not cached yet / less latency.
              3. 16gb memory should work nicely, but 32gb would give some more cache ability
              4. CPU cores is a bit tricky since the PDM cpu usage is very spiky / short,  I would try to get a good combination of cores / clock speed / cost. PDM seems to  allocate 1 cpu core to each user for normal tasks, complicated searches might sometimes get more than 1 core. Therefore a higher clock speed helps single user finish actions faster, rather than cores.
              5. If using a new version of PDM, check if you could use a newer SQL-server. Newer versions at least claim to have better performance, not sure how big of a difference there could be with PDM.
            • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
              Victor Frauenfeld

              First thing I would do is talk to your VAR. You are going to be paying them a lot of money and they should help you set up the system. They will look at your existing dataset and give recommendations.


              SolidWorks has its "minimum" requirements here: SOLIDWORKS Product Data Management | Hardware & System Requirements | SOLIDWORKS  I would recommend not going with the minimum. you will eventually run into issues. This website will tell you what operating system will work.


              If you have 15 people working in the vault, I would say that you want at least 1 TB of room for your data (archive server/servers). The SQL server running the database doesn't need that much room, maybe 500 GB or so.


              The fastest processor you can get will calculate data best. 16 GB RAM or more.


              All this being said, you can have the fastest, most robust servers out there, if you have a "slow pipeline" from the servers to the computers, it will seem like everything is slow and you will have issues. This is another reason to ask your VAR. They should help with network "core architecture" too.

              • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                Jason Capriotti

                How many users will be in the system at any one time?

                  • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                    Rich Chatfield



                    To clarify... When you say at any one time, I am assuming you are referring to multiple people fetching or putting files at the exact same time? If this is correct, I would imagine that 3-5 people maybe accessing the system at the same time through out the day.


                    We are going to implement the client end-users to pull the files and work on them locally and then put them back when done, so people will not be working on an assembly or part across the network. I hope I am understanding and stating that correctly.


                    So yeah, through the normal course of a day, you might have 3-5 on the system sending and receiving files, but since we have no experience I won't be able to know for sure till after we have had some time up and running in the working environment.

                  • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                    Steve Ostrovsky

                    Robust... putting aside $$ and vendors and not knowing the answer to Jason Capriotti question, here are my thoughts.


                    • Archive server needs fast I/O and hard drive speeds. Make sure to put the archive on it's own drive with plenty of space and room to grow. Software on C: drive with OS.
                    • Database server - SQL Server will eat all the RAM it can take so be smart in configuring it if you don't have lots of RAM
                      • Put the data files (MDF) on their own drive
                      • Put transaction log files (LDF) on their own drive
                      • Software on C: drive with OS
                      • You can even put the SolidWorks PDM Database Server Service on it's own machine if need be (don't think you need that for 15 users even if they were all on at the same time)
                      • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                        Rich Chatfield

                        So I was shopping and I found this...

                        Intel Core i7 7th Gen 7700K (4.20 GHz)

                        32 GB DDR4

                        1 TB HDD 240 GB SSD

                        Windows 10 Home 64-Bit

                        NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB GDDR5

                        VR Ready

                        CPU Speed: 7700K (4.20 GHz)


                        ABS Vortex Leo Gaming Desktop Intel i7-7700K (4.2 GHz) 32 GB DDR4 240 GB SSD 1 TB HDD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB Wind…

                        I was just thinking we could buy this and upgrade it from windows home to windows pro so we can run a server environment.  I will plug this into our router directly and all the client end-usres can just WAN in through the router directly to this machine's. We have a pretty good 5g wireless rocking some great up and download speeds.

                          • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                            Steve Ostrovsky

                            That's not a server, it's a gaming system. Play games on it instead of having it host your company's engineering data is my suggestion.

                              • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                                Rich Chatfield

                                ok. it has I7 cores

                                it has 32 GB of Ram DDR4

                                It has 240 GB of SSD and 1T hard disk

                                CPU is 4.20GHz

                                What is your objection to using this? Because they call it a gaming computer? I'm not being negative or sarcastic I genuinely would like to know why you do not see this as a viable option? Just looking at the specs, it seems to fit exactly what everyone is recommending to me which is confusing why you saying its not.

                                  • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                                    Matt Peneguy

                                    Like you, I'm no expert on this.  You have received some pretty good advice so far.  There are reasons for choosing server class hardware, and I don't know if any or all of them are valid for PDM.  Things such as error correcting ram, and RAID come to mind... I know, you've got an archive server, but are you going to be explaining to the boss people can't work for a day or two because you have to rebuild the database because a HD went out in the server?  How's that going to go?

                                    That's why someone suggested reaching out to your VAR.  They are going to know your situation better, and you are paying them a lot of money for maintenance and guidance on this type of thing.

                                    And when in doubt go with more robust over cheap...  Better to get something a little better than what you need now, than have to go back to the boss and explain you made a mistake.

                                • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                                  Ville Makinen

                                  I recommend you hire some server managing firm or your VAR to handle the deployment of the server side of the things and setup proper daily offsite backups also to help you managing servers in the future. If you are just kicking off with the PDM Pro, you don't need to get any massive server farm to support total of 15 users, 1 server with 6 core+ CPU and 16gb+ ram and enough drives for proper raid config would be more than enough for a long time. I think the hardware would be like 2k$, use the rest of budget for outsourcing the setup & installation, add more hardware in future if needed.


                                  Proper backup setup is mission critical with PDM, secondly you need a robust RAID setup at the server to handle possible drive failures. If something goes wrong with the database and you don't have a proper backups to revert to, the files inside the vault are pretty much useless, since the files are stored in hexadecimal folder structure and they don't have any filenames at the server.


                                  It would be extremely dangerous to trust whole companys design data to be stored on single consumer drive inside a consumer computer system. All drives fail at some point, you need to be prepared for this. If you are considering hiring 15 new engineers, the labor costs alone from that makes it even more silly that you are even considering consumer specced system and trying to save pennies on the wrong place. PDM server is lifeline of the engineers doing design work, if its not working they can't get any work done, let alone if the design data is lost for ever due to poor data management practices.


                                  About the networking then, great upload / download speeds is not indication of quality with PDM, many times more important is the quality of the connection, low & stable ping and no connection interruptions or packet loss. Swift / reliable database read/write access is more important. Wireless internet connection for a server with that many users sounds like a trouble.

                                    • Re: Recommend Robust PDM Pro Servers
                                      Rich Chatfield

                                      Excellent. Thank you. I have pretty much shelved the consumer speced computer in favor of the more reliable and robust Server class. this advice here: "1 server with 6 core+ CPU and 16gb+ ram and enough drives for proper raid config would be more than enough for a long time. I think the hardware would be like 2k$, use the rest of budget for outsourcing the setup & installation, add more hardware in future if needed." is excellent and I can make my recommendation based on this to my boss. I am thinking based off all I learned, that I7/I8 with 32GB of Ram, 256 SSD + 1 TB Raid drive. I will go back to sync all this with our VAR when they get back from vacation, but I can at least give my boss a good idea or ballpark of what we are looking at. I truly appreciate everyone's help and advice. I learned so much.


                                      Thank you.