MBSE and Integration | Part 5 – Syndeia Technical Approaches

In this post, we will continue the example begun in Part 4. We are evaluating the Syndeia interoperability platform from Intercax using the criteria for evaluating integration solutions (IS) laid out in the first three parts of the series. In this part, we will focus on technical approaches to integrating models. No particular technical approach should be regarded as good or bad, but each carries with it strengths and weaknesses with respect to supporting certain kinds of user functionality.

It should also be noted that technical approaches change over time and that any evaluation is only a snapshot. This is certainly true of Syndeia, which is evolving from a pure local application to a SaaS enterprise application, based on the requirements of the customers who are adopting it within their increasingly complex systems development projects.

IS Evaluation Criteria – Technical Approaches

Aggregation vs. Federation

Does the IS require users to set up and maintain a new large database?

The Syndeia Cloud database stores only connections between model elements, while most of the system data remains in the existing repositories.  However, large projects can have millions of such connections, so setting up a scaleable database taking advantage of the latest technologies is part of the installation.

Does the IS provide a mechanism to update the database contents?

Syndeia Cloud uses a microservice architecture to update the database when connections are created, modified or deleted, individually or in groups.  These connections are version-managed, so that earlier versions are retained after updating and can be reconstructed.

Does the IS make use of a PLM repository?

No, Syndeia does not use an existing PLM repository, e.g. Teamcenter, Windchill, Aras, etc.

Does the IS provide a mechanism to check in/check out data from the PLM system?

No, Syndeia does not allow users to check out or lock sections of the database as in a PLM system.

Does the IS use a database to store connections between models?

The Syndeia Cloud database stores connections between model elements, while most of the system data remains in the existing repositories.

File-Based vs. Model-Based

Does the IS connect to files or data elements within files?

Syndeia can create and maintain connections to either files or structured data elements within those files.

Does the IS expose file contents to other tools?

With the appropriate tool interface, Syndeia can expose the model elements within the domain models and can access and share those model elements with models in other tools.

Point-to-Point vs. Holistic

Does the IS support integration between more than two tools?

Syndeia supports integrations between over a dozen different engineering software tools. New tool interfaces are introduced with each release. However, not all point-to-point integrations support all the same use cases.

Is connectivity information stored in a single database?

Yes, all the connection information created by Syndeia is stored in a single database (Syndeia Cloud) and can be searched, queried and visualized through the same user interface.

Are all integrations executed through a common user interface?

Yes, all the tool-to-tool integrations are executed through a single user interface with standard commands such as drag-and-drop, right-click to show menus, etc.

Can the IS identify connections involving elements more than two tools?

Yes, Syndeia supports pattern-matching query languages that can identify and display extended chains of connection between model elements, e.g. Jama-Rhapsody-JIRA.

Link vs. Sync

Does the IS allow users to transform data models between domains?

Yes, in some cases, Syndeia can transform data models between repositories, e.g. transform a SysML activity diagram to a Simulink block diagram or a PLM bill-of-materials to a SysML block structure.  Syndeia also supports the link option between model elements in which no model transform or data sharing occurs.

Does the IS maintain connectivity between transformed models?

Yes, Syndeia maintains individual connections between model elements in the transformed models, e.g. a Jama requirements hierarchy transformed into a SysML requirements hierarchy remains connected at the individual requirement level.

Does the IS allow users to compare and update data between transformed models?

Yes, Syndeia supports compare and update between transformed models.

Methodology-Specific vs. Methodology-Neutral

Does the IS mandate a specific process for creating integrations?

No, Syndeia does not enforce a specific workflow for creating connections or transforming models, although it does respect user permissions in accessing domain repositories.

Does the IS mandate a specific process for making changes across tool boundaries?

No, Syndeia does not enforce a specific workflow for making changes across tool boundaries, although it does respect user permissions in writing to domain repositories.

Vendor-Specific vs. Vendor Neutral

Does the IS only integrate software tools from a specific vendor?

No, Syndeia has interfaces to tools from many different vendors, including IBM, Siemens, PTC, and Dassault Systemes. No particular vendor is favored.

Are there specific vendors that the IS does not integrate to?

Syndeia seeks to work with as wide a range of partners as possible, although not all widely used applications are currently supported.  A list of available interfaces is presented on our website, www.intercax.com/syndeia.

Are cross-vendor integrations less functional or less frequently updated?

Intercax attempts to maintain Syndeia’s compatibility with the latest commercial releases from all its partners. Specific interface functionality is driven by customer needs, as well as technical limitations in the integrated tool API, but the general trend is to bring full integration features to all tool combinations.

Enterprise Services vs. Local Applications

Does IS functionality reside on a server/cloud or local user machines?

Currently, Syndeia is a hybrid. Syndeia Cloud is server-based. Syndeia clients, both plug-ins and stand-alone, reside on local users’ machines. The Syndeia roadmap plans to shift full functionality to Syndeia Cloud.

Is IS functionality accessible through an open API?

Connection storage and queries are handled by Syndeia Cloud through an open API. Functionality to create connections resides on the local clients.

Is integration data stored on a server/cloud or local user machines?

Both options are supported, but server-based storage is more scaleable and offers better access in collaborative environments.

Can integration data be accessed through a web browser?

Yes, the Syndeia 3.3 release allows integration data to be accessed through a web browser.

Does the IS control usage by node-locked or floating licenses?

Syndeia client usage is controlled by node-locked or floating licenses.

Does the IS control usage by named subscriber accounts?

Syndeia Cloud usage is controlled by named user accounts.

syndeia-approaches-mbse-inegration-intercax

Figure 1 Syndeia scoring against Approaches

The summary of Syndeia’s evaluation in terms of technical approaches, shown in Figure 1, can be summarized in several short statements:

  • It is based on the federation of models.
  • It is holistic, i.e. all the integrations are accessible through a single interface to a single database.
  • It supports both link and sync integrations.
  • It is methodology- and vendor neutral.
  • It is currently a mix of server-based and local-app-based functionality.

In the next post in this blog series, I will evaluate our Syndeia interoperability platform with respect to Other Requirements, following the outline in the earlier Part 3.

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Dirk Zwemer

Dirk Zwemer

Dr. Dirk Zwemer (dirk.zwemer@intercax.com) is President of Intercax LLC (Atlanta, GA), a supplier of MBE engineering software platforms like Syndeia and ParaMagic. He is an active teacher and consultant in the field and holds Level 4 Model Builder-Advanced certification as an OMG System Modeling Professional.