Aside from the OFTP integration, users can use the SaaS solution practically "out of the box", which makes updates easier. "The software supported almost all our use cases from the word go," says Catalina Man. PROSTEP implemented an important adaptation for OSRAM Continental that has already been incorporated in the standard application. The size of the WebSpaces for individual users and user groups can be defined individually within the storage quota for the licensed number of users and can also be changed. This was previously technically feasible but had to be performed by PROSTEP support staff. Now customer administrators can do this themselves using the intuitive web interface.
Approximately 250 internal and almost 100 external users are currently registered as exchange partners at OSRAM Continental. The internal users are primarily R&D engineers, but an increasing number of employees from other departments are also sending and receiving sensitive data securely via the cloud platform, which logs all exchange processes in a way the ensures they can be traced. The solution has registered over 6,000 uploads and downloads involving a data volume of more than 500 gigabytes this year alone.
Intuitive web interface
All key data exchange functions are made available to users via an HTML5-based web interface. With the help of external user interface design specialists, PROSTEP has made this interface more intuitive and ergonomic so that even occasional users can use the application without the need for regular training courses. "The new interface has made the application much easier to use," says Catalina Man. "At first users had a lot of questions, which is why we worked hard to ensure that they understand the tool and feel comfortable using it. We asked PROSTEP to expand existing documentation to include easy-to-understand explanatory videos for example."
Although the data exchange service is primarily used by developers, OSRAM Continental has not integrated the SaaS solution directly in its PLM environment even though this is technically feasible. "We decided to first make sure that the application is stable for the users," says Catalina Man. Engineers normally export their CAD data from SAP PLM or SAP ECTR to an appropriate directory, log in to OpenDXM GlobalX using the Web Client, select the files to be exchanged and the respective recipient, and upload them to the platform. Both the files and the exchange processes are encrypted, thus ensuring a high level of security.
Employees who like working with MS Outlook and use it extensively can now initiate data exchange directly from their e-mail program. At the beginning of this year, OSRAM Continental activated the Outlook integration – which is actually a multi-cloud integration because the Office programs run in a different cloud environment – for certain users. Catalina Man says that although connecting across cloud boundaries isn't a problem, it requires the installation of additional software on the PCs, which is why most users cannot install the integration themselves.
Falling total cost of ownership
The main benefit of the SaaS model for OSRAM Continental is the fact that the company did not have to deal with purchasing and implementing hardware and software. This meant that the data exchange solution was able to go live quickly. It can be scaled up or down as the number of users increases or decreases. No or significantly fewer IT administration and support staff is required. Maintenance of the IT infrastructure and software updates are included in the price, which reduces the total cost of ownership or at least makes it easier to calculate. In a new company, where the entire IT organization has yet to be established, internal resources are scarce. A cloud-based, out-of-the-box solution is therefore the perfect solution.
"For me, the key advantage of the SaaS solution is its flexibility, which makes it possible to respond to new requirements quickly," says Catalina Man, who is very happy with the support PROSTEP provides and the quality of the support. Review meetings, at which the experts from PROSTEP explain new features and make note of new requirements, are held twice a year following the updates. "The team is very flexible and implements our requirements quickly," explains Catalina Man in conclusion. "That is crucial to the success of our collaboration."