Abstract

The engineering data of a large enterprise is typically distributed over a wide area and archived in a variety of databases and file systems. Access to such information is crucial to a team member, particularly in a concurrent engineering setting. However, this is not easy, because (1) a model of the relevant information is not available, and (2) there is no simple way to access the information without being knowledgeable about various computer data formats, file systems, and networks. However, in a concurrent engineering environment, there is every need to be aware of the perspectives of the other members of the team. We have developed a system called the Information Sharing Server (ISS) to enable access to diverse and distributed information within a corporation. Such data could be stored in different repositories such as databases (relational, object oriented, etc.) and file systems including those that contain multiple media (text, graphics, audio, etc.). The ISS maintains an enterprise model that is visible to the user. The modeling of the enterprise is done in a language called EXPRESS developed by the STEP consortium as an international standard. The ISS also stores mappings from the model to the actual data residing in the repositories. The ISS accepts requests from the user and converts them into requests specific to a repository. The request is then communicated to the repository over the network and the results are fetched back to the user. The ISS is currently integrated with engineering data of two domains: electrical and mechanical. Our paper describes the methodology of the ISS, the details of the implementation and extensions planned for the future. We believe the transparency offered by the ISS will make it a very useful tool for an engineer and make it very convenient to integrate heterogeneous legacy databases.

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