PLM, Semantics Technology and Data Federation

June 8, 2012

I’m in a deep technological mood these days. As you probably noticed, I’m attending Semantic Technology & Business conferencein beautiful, but cold San Francisco. SemTech 2012 covers an interesting technological space that covers a variety of topics related to data, data management, big data, semantics, linked data and semantic web. So, the environment of the conference and some presentations made me think about some modern trends in data management related to data federation. It probably goes a bit beyond the technological level of this blog, but I found it interesting and insightful.

Distributed Data Architecture

Our world is getting more and more distributed. The time when you was able to concentrate the data in a single computer and/or databases almost became a history. We are moving towards something bigger that can scale to the level of web. The following two examples show a potential role of semantic technologies in support of federated data environment:

Andrew Sunderland of Spry Inc presented enterprise data management options. Here is the interesting quote explaining his presentation:

Companies are looking for methods to quickly expose data sources for federated data access, while at the same time developing a robust, executable enterprise ontology. Data profiling tools can be leveraged to profile data sources and bootstrap ontologies and mappings. This talk will showcase how Spry is leveraging these tools to quickly expose data sources, while in developing an enterprise ontology

Another example is coming from FluidOpsTransformation of Enterprise Data Islands into Linked and Living Knowledge. Information Workbench environment coming from FluidOps. The discussion focus was on the transformation of enterprise data islands into linked and living knowledge and elaborates on the costs and benefits of managing information in a unified semantic space.

The following picture shows Information Workbench architecture and the role of semantic technologies to achieve the role of data unification.

Data Federation and Asymmetric Computing

I had a chance to attend the presentation of Bryan Thompson of Systap discussing the bigdata® architecture. His presentation was focused on the computing side of distributed data environment and federation. The following slide presents the role of RDF and graph as a unified model for heterogeneous data sources.

How is that related to PLM?

Now, you can ask me- how it is related to PDM and Engineering and Manufacturing world. Here is my take. IT infrastructure of manufacturing companies is extremely complicated these days. It includes existing data management and enterprise systems, content and document management vaults, unmanaged files and other data sources. Nowadays, cloud and web are coming as an additional data places companies target for data. The overall environment is global and distributed. Existing PLM systems are striving towards centralization of data into a singe data. The single database architecture might be not sufficient, cost of data transition might be too high, cloud and globalization is another dimension of complexity. Distributed and federated data management capable to scale to the level of web – logically and physically can be an interesting platform option to discover.

What is my conclusion? The history gave us many examples when large companies missed new technological trends, and it cost them to lose their leadership position. At the same time, we can see how web companies built their infrastructure and disrupted many existing domains. What will be the technological foundation that can support challenges manufacturing and engineering companies are facing today? What will be the role of semantic data technologies in the future of these systems is a right question to ask these days.

Best, Oleg


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