Microsoft® Solutions for:

Building a Digital Nervous System for Integrated Information Management in the Manufacturing Industries



Executive Summary............................................................................................................ 1

The Digital Nervous System......................................................................................... 3

From Order to Invoice......................................................................................................... 5

Overview.......................................................................................................................... 5

Market Pressures.......................................................................................................... 5

Satisfying a customer order......................................................................................... 6

Taking an order - the Enterprise communicates with the Customer................... 7

Engineering..................................................................................................................... 8

Manufacturing................................................................................................................ 9

Enterprise Resource Planning and the distributed virtual enterprise............... 10

Integration issues........................................................................................................ 12

A management checklist........................................................................................... 13

Microsoft’s technology delivers business value.............................................................. 14

Overview....................................................................................................................... 14

Benefits of the Windows® DNA architecture........................................................ 15

Microsoft’s Business Strategy.................................................................................. 15

The Windows DNA Architecture................................................................................ 16

Integration – from head office to shop............................................................................ 19

Systems Evolution and the Manufacturing Value Chain..................................... 19

SQL Server 7.0 for the Enterprise.................................................................................... 22

SQL® Server™ 7.0 and the Data Warehouse........................................................ 23

Microsoft® BackOffice® – implementing integrated information management 24

Total Costs of Ownership.................................................................................................. 26

The Microsoft Support Structure..................................................................................... 27

Conclusion....................................................................................................................... 29


“The right information at the right time is nine-tenths of any battle”



Executive Summary


The primary role of manufacturing business management is to understand customer needs; respond to customer needs with innovative products and services; and manufacture and deliver these products or services - rapidly.


Markets increasingly expect customised products and global availability. Competitive pressures require management teams to optimise asset utilisation and to strive for lower costs while maintaining high quality levels. In response to these pressures modern business strategies generally focus on core competencies, building close working relationships with networks of specialist suppliers. Most manufacturing organisations now depend for success on operating effectively as part of one or more multi-company supply chains.


To maintain and develop competitive advantage in this environment enterprises have recognised that success depends on their ability to respond effectively to change, both immediate and long term. This ability can ultimately be judged by measuring the degree of control an enterprise has over its products and processes, and especially on the speed and reach of its information communication.


Microsoft® Integrated Manufacturing Enterprise

Old organisational structures with many levels of hierarchy and functionally orientated departments may have provided adequate control in a slow moving industrial environment; but they suffered from time delays and were error prone through problems of communication. Flattened hierarchies, empowered product teams and well managed supply chains deliver better control in the real-time response environment demanded by today’s marketplace – provided that the people concerned have immediate access to accurate information


An integrated information management strategy delivering this information throughout the manufacturing value chain is therefore a key component of any manufacturing business strategy. In most forward-looking enterprises a well designed integrated information management infrastructure is considered essential for continuous business improvement. By giving people fast access to all the information they need, the full capacity of human capability and ingenuity is released and turned into an actively deployed asset.


The Digital Nervous System

The ability to operate efficiently, execute plans effectively and react quickly to unplanned events is what distinguishes the winners in today’s business conditions, plus the ability to implement business control and information systems that properly support those objectives. Microsoft uses the concept of the digital nervous system by analogy with the biological nervous system when discussing business control and information management in manufacturing enterprises – and, indeed, any industrial enterprise.












The details of industrial operations and computing solutions may vary in different companies but the underlying IT operating infrastructure will not. Everyone needs to prepare documents, communicate messages internally and externally, and access quickly the mass of information generated by the very many application programs typically in use across an enterprise and its supply chains. And everyone wants to reduce the cost of establishing and maintaining the hardware and software infrastructure that has become the major element in most companies’ IT investment budgets.


A digital nervous system represents an evolution in computing. It is a move away from task automation, localised cost reduction and vertical, isolated systems. In a digital nervous system the emphasis is on raising the productivity of knowledge workers (and everyone works with knowledge) by building an intelligent information infrastructure that is flexible and re-configurable, and reaches beyond the individual enterprise to customers, suppliers and business partners. Microsoft intends to play a major role in bringing about this evolution by supplying software, tools and technology, supported by expertise, services and partners.


As enterprises invest more in their computing and communications infrastructures the cost of implementing and developing those infrastructures has become a major concern. Microsoft’s mission is to deliver high volume platforms built of standard, interoperable components that will minimise the investment needed for a digital nervous system. The technology framework that enables the creation of the digital nervous system is Microsoft Windows Distributed interNet Applications architecture (DNA).

The purpose of this white paper is to show why and how Windows DNA forms a complete basis for creating the digital nervous system in any manufacturing enterprise and, in particular, how it enables comprehensive integration of engineering, production and business information applications. The paper describes how the comprehensive range of Microsoft technologies is deployed within the Windows DNA framework to implement state-of-the-art digital nervous systems for manufacturing enterprises, including a review of the new information access possibilities opened up by Microsoft® SQL Server™ 7.O multidimensional database technology.

From Order to Invoice



All enterprises are different though there are many patterns and issues they have in common. For example, the activities of all enterprises consist of a network of interlinked chains of business processes. Some of these process chains are judged to be core processes of the business – usually those that start and end with the customer. Others exist to ensure the efficient operation of the core processes. Increasingly, management teams recognise that profitability and growth depend on the efficient operation of every process and of the whole enterprise viewed as a holistic organism. Integrated IT systems must simultaneously serve the needs of local processes and the enterprise as a whole.


Accommodating different viewpoints on the data


The manufacturer, the intermediate customer (who takes the manufacturer’s products and incorporates them into their own products), and the end user for these products, all have different viewpoints on the same data. All of these views must be accommodated.


·   The manufacturer needs comprehensive representation of: design data, materials data, product structure, bills of material, drawings, machining and assembly instructions, production plans, test data and manuals, as well as complete commercial information on suppliers, deliveries, prices, payments and so on.

·   The intermediate customer, whose production process uses many items from many manufacturers, regards many of them as commodity items that should be listed in an electronic on-line catalogue. This company is interested in a subset of the design data relating to performance and production characteristics, weights, dimensions availability etc. If available in a digital form, this intermediate customer can directly specify these products in their own documentation.

·   The end user will eventually receive a copy of documentation for the final product which may incorporate details of the various components used in its production. This data will be used over the lifetime of the product as part of the data framework for ongoing use.


·   The manufacturer needs comprehensive representation of: design data, materials data, product structure, bills of material, drawings, machining and assembly instructions, production plans, test data and manuals, as well as complete commercial information on suppliers, deliveries, prices, payments and so on.

·   The intermediate customer, whose production process uses many items from many manufacturers, regards many of them as commodity items that should be listed in an electronic on-line catalogue. This company is interested in a subset of the design data relating to performance and production characteristics, weights, dimensions availability etc. If available in a digital form, this intermediate customer can directly specify these products in their own documentation.

·   The end user will eventually receive a copy of documentation for the final product which may incorporate details of the various components used in its production. This data will be used over the lifetime of the product as part of the data framework for ongoing use.

Market Pressures

The market pressures that drive the development of manufacturing industry enterprises now force many more parts of an organisation to be aware of, and respond to, specific customer needs.

For example, the demand for customised products is encouraged by those enterprises that have been able to integrate their design and engineering cycle into the sales cycle. The diagram of ‘Value Cycles in Manufacturing’ below illustrates a high level view of the associated business processes. Indeed, the efficiency of the co-ordination and linking of these cycles is one measure of the flexibility and responsiveness of an organisation.


Many organisations have found that they can achieve competitive advantage by offering an engineer-to-order or make-to-order service for products that were previously mass or bulk produced and held in stock. Achieving this transition inside a vertically integrated company, in which all relevant activities are under the control of a single management team, can be challenging, perhaps requiring investment in product design and manufacturing processes. In fact, today’s successful manufacturing enterprise must achieve this result in the more complex environment of the supply chain, in which each of the primary value-adding process chains may involve multiple independent companies, each of which needs a particular view of shared manufacturing and commercial data.

Value Cycle in Manufacturing










Satisfying a customer order

To achieve increased responsiveness and service to individual customers, enterprises are ensuring that more groups within the company are connected to and involved in customer interactions. Indeed, if a group is not involved in gaining or fulfilling a customer order, many enterprises will ask why that group exists.


At a working level, individuals in a responsive, agile, lean manufacturing industry enterprise are increasingly expected to:

·         take a broader view of the overall business; and

·         take immediate decisions that will optimise the activities in their own area in the context of the overall business.


To achieve that, these individuals need access to the right information at the right time. Therefore, at a fundamental level, an integrated information management infrastructure is key to implementing the production and organisational strategies required for competitive advantage. This infrastructure must be capable not only of delivering the right applications to the right desktops, but also of improving and controlling the flow of information around the enterprise.


Many groups of people are affected by the handling of a customer order. From the business side of the enterprise, through engineering and manufacturing, it is the integrated information management infrastructure that ensures these groups can operate in a timely and effective way. Perhaps a document management or workflow system is helping co-ordinate the flow of documentation around the company. Perhaps a manufacturing system is taking real-time feed of customer enquiries and orders, and providing accurate delivery dates in response. Perhaps a quality management system is prompting everyone for necessary quality related actions, and maintaining the documentation required to show when these actions were completed. These systems, together with the many others needed in a manufacturing enterprise, will deliver optimum efficiency when they are able to co-operate through an integrated information management infrastructure.


Taking an order - the Enterprise communicates with the Customer

For example, consider taking an order by phone or through the internet. The customer calls the sales department, or connects to the online customer service systems, and asks for confirmation of configuration, packaging, pricing, delivery and availability details of a particular product.

·         Is the sales representative taking the call able to answer these questions?

·         Alternatively, does the online ordering system have access to today’s prices and lead times?


The Enterprise communicates with the Customer





















To establish the correct product configuration, access to information originated by the design department is required. With an integrated information management infrastructure, the sales representative can respond with an authoritative, immediate configuration. To finalise pricing and availability, the sales representative is able to access the results of a costing module which has used up-to-date prices for the materials, bought-in parts, and manufacturing processes that this particular order requires. In addition, the distribution module will have calculated delivery costs. In this way, the sales representative can give instant, correct pricing. And, vitally, the result will be a correct order, accepted at a profitable price, with an achievable delivery date. This same integrated information management infrastructure is the foundation on which an effective online customer service system can be built to follow the same procedures as the sales representative.



Engineering product and process data models are at the heart of design and manufacture. Engineering activities are diverse, but make similar demands on the integrated information management infrastructure. For example, consider:

·         bridges, tunnels, power stations, roads and railways;

·         bulk chemicals, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals

·         ships, aircraft and gas turbines,

·         food and drink

·         cars, washing machines and electric goods

·         paper and textiles

·         industrial machinery


Information Systems for Design and Production Engineers


Design Engineers no longer design by slide rule, eye or rule of thumb. They use a whole array of accurate and powerful computer tools:

·   to simulate dynamic stress, fluid flow and electromagnetic fields

·   to simulate real-time processes and their control

·   to build 3D models of process plant and detailed mechanical assemblies

·   for rapid prototyping of complex parts

·   to provide multi-media documentation to replace the traditional cumbersome instruction manuals


Production engineers use computer tools to

·   design jigs and tooling

·   to simulate machining processes

·   to design production lines

·   to carry out production planning

·   monitor the production process


Design and Production engineers work together using computer tools that convert designs into manufacturing instructions: for example calculations on the complex shapes of turbine blades can be converted directly into machining instructions; patterns for prototype motor casings can be manufactured directly by a variety of rapid prototyping tools. The Engineers also interact with the Enterprise - for example, costs are derived from the bill of materials and manufacturing process costs. Functional and operational specifications are derived from marketing requirements. Technical specifications may form a part of sales materials and contracts.


Today’s trend is away from the stand-alone system that will handle a single engineering application with its own proprietary database towards a integrated information management infrastructure with a distributed flexible and scalable database on which all or most applications will run.


These all involve the development of large amounts of product and process data, generally organised into digital models. These models are the source of information for other enterprise systems during the entire product life cycle and they grow over time.


Consider the order for the configurable product discussed earlier. Today’s manufacturer must give efficient lifetime product support to clients in a world market. This means that data generated today and data added during the life of the product or process must preserve its integrity well into the next century.

·         The drawings, manuals and documents passing between manufacturers and customer increasingly are passed in electronic form.

·         Supplying the right replacement part demands instant access to the archived drawings, bills of material and manufacturing instructions for products built many years ago. Sometimes this can extend to the need to record the batch or serial numbers of the raw materials and components used in production, and the exact operating conditions of the manufacturing process for this particular product.


With many products the manufacturer’s responsibility extends beyond the useful life of the product since, in many parts of the world, they are required by legislation to accept the return of used products and packaging for safe disassembly and recycling. This principle is likely to be extended to many other products in future, and this will have the effect of extending manufacturers responsibility for their products over a longer period. This in turn will increase the size of product databases, since old designs will have to be kept accessible for longer periods, and more significantly, the extent of the use made of these databases.


An engineering group is therefore required to control substantial volumes of disparate data. They have to match their designs to marketing requirements. They have to deliver configuration information that will be used to produce sales materials, and drive the configurations and specifications the sales order-processing system will accept.

Perhaps they are actively involved in the sales cycle, producing estimates and designs for new products in response to sales enquiries. They have to ensure their products meet all relevant standards. Designers have to work with manufacturing engineers, who simultaneously develop the manufacturing and test processes and documentation. Sometimes this involves direct use of design information, such as the geometry of a part, to derive programs for numerically controlled machine tools. In a static situation, this can be a complex environment. In fact, the situation is dynamic, with constant change in specification, manufacturing process capability, supplier capabilities and regulations. Engineering groups have to ensure that even in this environment they can always put together consistent sets of information.


Product Data Management (PDM) delivers the ability to engineering departments to manage version and configuration control. A product data management application can orchestrate engineering activities. Moreover, if implemented as part of a Digital Nervous System infrastructure, then PDM has the tools it needs to co-ordinate engineering activities with enterprise data management, production planning and manufacturing execution.



Information Systems for Manufacturing Execution


Manufacturing Management teams need computer systems for:

·   planning capacity, maintenance, materials, and subcontracting (using techniques such as finite-capacity scheduling, and constraint-based scheduling).

·   production monitoring and control, including responding to responding to unexpected events such as changes in sales orders or priorities, raw material and component availability, machine breakdown and so on.

·   handling documentation such as purchase orders, woks orders, laboratory and inspection reports.

·   implementing strategies such as statistical process control

·   minimising inventory and work-in-progress and achieving optimum use of assets.

·   maximising on-time, in-budget, quality production


Workcell supervisors use computer tools to:

·   simulate production

·   monitor real-time data, and make appropriate adjustments, for example, with SCADA systems

·   optimise short-term schedules, for example to minimise machine cleaning times by selecting the equivalent of ‘white-to-black’ process production sequences.

·   identify tool and machine calibration needs

·   maximise throughput


Operators can help optimise production if they have access to necessary information. With an integrated information management infrastructure, they can feedback production conditions for everything from shift changeover to the real procedures for operating capital equipment, and this can be incorporated into future plans.

Supported by an integrated information management infrastructure, the production planner can be confident that the recorded information about actual orders and production status is up-to-date. Combined with the forecasts derived from historic data, this allows calculation of an accurate production target.


Since the planner knows that sales people are accessing the same information, any sales situation which requires changes to the plans will quickly be recognised. Similarly, since the stock level checks, and goods inwards records, as well as the production status as monitored by shop floor data collection systems, all directly feed into the planning data, there is no chance of producing plans based on out-of-date information. As the plans are confirmed, purchase orders for the materials and bought-in components required are automatically issued, so the risks of error communicating requirements to the purchasing department are eliminated.


Given an integrated information management infrastructure, the planners work with manufacturing resource data that records the real situation with regard to material availability, move times, change times, set-up times, process times, and resource availability. This can include human resource as well as machine and material resource. Therefore, the production departments know the resulting plans are achievable and realistic. This allows them to concentrate on quality and process improvement instead of fire fighting with ad-hoc adjustments to unrealistic plans.

When problems do arise, such as a machine breakdown, then the integrated information management infrastructure ensures that the planners can quickly find the optimum way to reschedule production.


The integrated information management infrastructure enables distribution needs to be considered when quoting delivery dates. In this environment, everyone is working from the same information. This allows plans to be optimised over the full range of core business processes of the enterprise. So, for example, completing production one week earlier may be of no advantage if delivery cannot take place for a week. Indeed, in this case, the enterprise has simply bought materials and applied production resources one week earlier than necessary. Of course, one result of the integrated information infrastructure will be the earliest recognition of this situation. This gives the opportunity to find a way of delivering earlier, and enhancing customer satisfaction. If, however, the delay is a customer imposed constraint, then material purchasing can be delayed, and the use of production capacity can be re-planned, thus not only improving cash-flow, but perhaps creating the opportunity to respond to other requirements.


Enterprise Resource Planning and the distributed virtual enterprise

The integrated information management infrastructure enables management of the situation in which an order has to be split into several separate streams for production, then brought together for delivery and invoicing. The invoice to the customer can be prepared automatically, and delivered in parallel with the product. In addition, the invoice is reconciled with the associated purchase order, so that at any time it is possible to assess the position of a customer account. Furthermore, the current status of all open orders can be viewed – per customer, or per product, and this information can give a management team new insight into operational priorities.


When an enterprise has gained control of its information flows, then the availability of high-speed communications makes it feasible to operate a geographically dispersed organisation as a single entity. Sales orders can be taken at one location and immediately call on stocks held at another, or feed into production plans at a third. In this way, the management team gains the freedom to optimise the use of assets at all existing locations of the enterprise, and also to choose the best new locations. Integrated information management creates the possibility of new levels of optimisation; for example, to bring together production plans and maintenance plans at the earliest opportunity to establish shift patterns for production operators and supervisors to match product demand and plant availability.


Internet technology provides the integrating element to enable the individual companies in a virtual enterprise to freely interchange data and to co-operate together. However, manufacturing industries have particular requirements, for example to exchange information regarding:

·         materials

·         product design

·         catalogues of standard designs

·         manufacture and assembly

·         test and commissioning

·         sales and distribution.

·         servicing and spares


The availability of Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 on industry standard computers, its capability to store large volumes of data, and the integration of inter/intranet access technology has created the tools required to successfully operate the integrated team-working required with business partners. Standardisation of the presentation of information creates the opportunity to exchange information - not just documents, which need to be interpreted to extract relevant information and re-input it into computer systems, but structured digital files, which can be directly utilised. This leads to the possibility of teams of companies operating as a ‘virtual enterprise’, and from this comes the freedom for every company in the network to select their partners. For a large corporation, this strategy creates the chance to transform a monolith into a network of trading units, with the flexibility and freedom to react quickly, co-operate as required, and deliver the responsiveness the market demands.


Today’s global markets –and the ‘virtual manufacturing company’ organisations designed in response to global market pressures - demand an information management infrastructure based on fast, accurate communication. Such an infrastructure, built systematically using internet technology and the appropriate standard commodity building blocks such as SQL Server 7.0 and Microsoft® BackOffice®, gives users the freedom to communicate at will. Trading partners who adopt this approach will avoid the barriers created by closed, proprietary system components.


SQL Server 7.0 is central to the Windows DNA Enterprise Architecture











Integration issues

In the previous sections we have considered the needs of each department in terms of data management. Data is kept close to each business function for a number of reasons – ease of use and management, increased security and control over local responsibilities. This is unavoidable simply because departments need to maintain their autonomy. As enterprises become more ‘agile’ the need to transfer information between autonomous systems, or to retrieve information from various systems at the same time, has inevitably led to ad hoc integration. The result is a maze of ‘knife and fork’ links between systems that were never intended to be integrated in the first place.


The advent of large scale ERP systems based on the client-server computing architecture resolved some of these issues, creating planned integration between various combinations of commercial, financial, manufacturing and human resources applications, according to the particular ERP vendor. A single applications architecture built around one or other of the proprietary database systems removed some of the problems of integration, though experience has shown that flexibility and response to changing requirements left much to be desired. Integration with other applications, outside the portfolio of the ERP vendor was no better than before.


It is now recognised – especially by the ERP vendors, who are signing up in droves– that the real solution to the applications integration requirement is for someone to create a single, universal computing, communication and data management architecture that will be sufficiently robust, flexible and scalable to last beyond the foreseeable future. That someone is Microsoft, and what they have produced is Windows DNA for Manufacturing – the subject of the next chapter.


Ad hoc integration












Applying a standard Infrastructure
















A management checklist

Could you benefit from a digital nervous system infrastructure? Try answering the following questions:

·         Do your staff always have the right information at their fingertips?

·         Do they waste time and effort looking for information?

·         Does it have to be collated manually from different sources?

·         Is the information obtained from different sources consistent?

·         Is the information completely up-to-date?

·         Is the information in the right format for the purpose?

·         Can information be passed on speedily in a useful form or does it have to be re-formulated?

·         Is information available 24 hours a day 365 days per year?


If you have significant doubts in any of these areas, read on!

Microsoft’s technology delivers business value
















This section of the paper explains Microsoft’s strategy for delivering business value in the manufacturing industries. It identifies the Microsoft technologies that are integrated by the Windows DNA architecture and shows particularly how Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 integrates with Microsoft® Office and Back Office to deliver new levels of business advantage through greater support for decision making.


Windows DNA for Manufacturing is a framework of software, standards and technology that allows companies to more easily build new information systems that take advantage of the low cost PC and the opportunities presented by the internet, while integrating with existing systems and data. It does this by enabling computer systems to inter-operate and co-operate equally well across both corporate and public networks. DNA provides an interoperability framework based on open protocols and published interfaces that allow companies to extend existing systems with new functionality. This same open model provides extensibility ‘hooks’ so that third parties can realise new, interoperable applications, or extend the technology platform, by creating compatible products.












Windows DNA applications use a standard set of Windows based services that address the requirements of all tiers of modern, distributed manufacturing business applications. These services are made up of three types of components:

·         those in the PRESENTATION (USER) layer run on Windows-based thin or rich clients, over local networks, intranets or the internet, and are concerned with the display of information and capture of information from the user and the user’s process;

·         those in the BUSINESS layer capture the rules governing business processes;

·         those in the DATA layer ensure the integrity and accessibility of the data in databases, whether local or widely distributed.


Benefits of the Windows DNA architecture

This multi-layer architecture brings major benefits, both to the user and the systems builder.

·         Display of information is independent of the systems architecture: to the user it is all the same, whether the application is running locally on a PC (‘rich client’) attached to a local area network; over a wide area network using ‘thin client’ architecture; or on the web using browser technology.

·         All Applications (the Business layer) are insulated from the Data ‘below’ and the Presentation ‘above’. The user sees a largely standardised approach to data management and to presentation, irrespective of application; and the application developer has available a standard set of building blocks for these functions that greatly reduce development costs.

·         The division of functions is central to the scalability that is such a strong feature of the Windows DNA Architecture. Data and applications may be distributed optimally over the machines on a network – including the internet – and each element of the network may be expanded or contracted to match work load and communication patterns as the enterprise evolves. So for instance, SQL Server 7.0 can equally well handle database requirements on a departmental network, a company network or a global network, including the management of legacy data on non-Windows hardware. And, as business requirements evolve, new applications can be accessed without necessarily changing the hardware; or new hardware can be plugged in without disturbing existing applications – more powerful server clusters, for instance, or pocket PC’s for people in the field.


Microsoft’s Business Strategy

Microsoft’s business strategy is based on a clear view of its core competencies and its place in the market. Its ultimate customers are primarily interested in business solutions that directly create business advantage. Those solutions are provided by several thousand Microsoft Business Applications Partners who base their end user products on the Microsoft Windows DNA framework.

Microsoft sees its role as one of continuous extension and improvement of this standardised software infrastructure in order to make it progressively easier and less costly to implement the integrated information systems required by industry. The recent launch of the greatly enhanced SQL Server 7.0 is a prime example of this continuous improvement policy.


A key element of Microsoft’s technical strategy is to make the underlying software infrastructure transparent to the end user through the power of the tools provided to the applications developer in the form of standardised GUI’s, object technology, interface specifications and systems management facilities within the Windows DNA architecture. Paradoxically, the value of this ever rising infrastructure platform tends to be hidden from the end user by the very transparency that is one of its key features; though its value will be apparent to IT management who face the task of implementing and integrating a computing and communications environment that is both cost effective in the short term and readily adaptable to future needs.


The Windows DNA Architecture

Windows DNA for Manufacturing allows multi-tier client server manufacturing applications to integrate seamlessly with one another and with the internet. It is the essential infrastructure enabling functional “plug and play” between manufacturing applications from ERP to plant floor process control. The Windows DNA framework combines ease of use of the browser type of interface with the power of traditional client/server applications. It creates a highly efficient development environment for application developers and systems integrators so that implementing a digital nervous system is now economically feasible for every size of manufacturing enterprise. And it enables mutual sharing of functions between applications, free exchange of information between system components; and distributed implementation of applications across local networks, intranets and the internet.


The Windows DNA architecture integrates the full range of Microsoft’s standard technology components. Here is a brief summary of where the main components fit into the overall picture.


Windows CE to Cluster


·         The scalable Microsoft® Windows® multi-tier client/server operating systems environment unifies the computing network across the whole range of hardware, from Microsoft® Windows® CE for embedded processors and real time applications, through Windows® 95/98 for personal laptops and desktops, and Windows NT® for workstations on up to Windows NT® Server Enterprise for server clusters and terabyte size databases. All are unified through the common Win32 applications programming interface.

















·         Windows DNA-integrated data storage allows formerly proprietary data sources to become part of integrated storage. Microsoft’s Universal Data Access method, OLE DB, provides the basic mechanisms to access data from shop floor devices and real time databases as well as traditional relational data stores.

·         The Microsoft Back Office family includes Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 for data management; Microsoft® Exchange Server for enterprise messaging; Microsoft® Internet Information Server for internet and intranet support; Microsoft® Systems Management Server for network management; and Microsoft® SNA Server for connecting to mainframes and AS400.

·         The common application infrastructure is based on Microsoft’s Component Object Model (COM) specification: COM-enabled technologies such as Microsoft® Transaction Server, Message Queue Server and Cluster Server provide a foundation of application services that enable rapid solutions development. DCOM is the extension for distributed computing architectures.

·         Tools such as Microsoft® Visual Basic® for Applications (VBA) allow users of standard Microsoft® Office productivity applications such as Microsoft® Word and Microsoft® Excel to have access to engineering, manufacturing and business applications. Microsoft Office is also used to provide standard office functionality within, for instance, ERP systems.

·         Microsoft® Visual Studio™ provides applications developers with an integrated development environment to build manufacturing solutions. Language support includes Visual C++, Visual Basic, Visual J++, the Visual InterDev web development system and the Visual FoxPro database development system.

·         Windows NT Services provides tools and methodology for integration of legacy systems into the Digital Nervous System, including the Windows NT Services for UNIX Add-on Pack and various DCOM Connectors to enterprise level business systems.












Central to its integration strategy is Microsoft’s standardised object technology, including:

·         Common Object Model (COM), a specification for exchanging text, graphics or data objects between applications;

·         Distributed Common Object Model (DCOM) for processes distributed on a network;

·         Object linking and Embedding (OLE) in its various forms, including:

·         OLE as the familiar method of creating compound documents in Microsoft Office

·         OLE DB, the technology for universal access to heterogeneous databases

·         OLE Design and Modelling, the developing basis for ‘drag & drop’ between CAD and CAM systems

·         OLE for Process Control (OPC) for taking process control data into production management systems

·         Microsoft® ActiveX®, the technology for creating interactive objects on the internet (or intranets). ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) provides a simple model to all kinds of data.


COM/DCOM/OLE technology is the fundamental enabler that allows compliant application components to be plugged into the DNA framework and pass information objects freely between them. Microsoft’s internet/web technology, including ActiveX, integrates client/server networks and the internet into one distributed but unified information communication system.



Integration – from head office to shop


Systems Evolution and the Manufacturing Value Chain

So what can this technology help us achieve?



















The evolution of manufacturing information systems is has been characterised over many years by increasing integration of functions around common underlying technology, though the proliferation of proprietary operating environments – and the high costs of the technology - greatly hindered progress.


The old theoretical ‘CIM’ model of manufacturing control envisaged a 7 level systems hierarchy. Actual evolution has resulted in three major strands of development that initially took place more or less independently and may now be considered as a 3 level hierarchy.


The Business Management Level, represented notably by enterprise resource planning (ERP). ERP systems integrate a large number of business applications such as order processing, accounting, purchasing, and inventory management with manufacturing planning, traditionally associated with MRPII but increasingly including finite capacity scheduling and on-line, interactive planning. Different vendors include different functionality within their meaning of ERP but the common characteristic of an ERP system is the sharing of data between applications via a single database system such as SQL Server 7.0. Historically ERP systems rode the UNIX client/server wave but the shift in market focus towards Windows NT systems has opened up the potential for “head office to plant floor” integration.


The Production Management Level, including manufacturing execution (MES), process visualisation (HMI) supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) applications. Nowadays referred to collectively as Manufacturing Management Information (MMI), systems at this level are interactive, graphical and well suited to the PC as a hardware platform. MES as a distinct application was developed some years ago at the time PC’s became accepted as reliable for factory use. Development of real-time extensions to Windows NT and SQL Server have subsequently gone hand in hand with MES, HMI and SCADA applications development.

The Production Control Level acts as the link between the Field Level and the Management Level, communicating production information such as work in progress to production control and ERP applications via MMI data bases that store the information from production monitoring and SCADA systems.


“Instead of having to learn a 100 or more custom toolkits our people will only have to learn one set of tools because all OPC drivers will work the same way. If we realise only 1% productivity increase per user per year – and that’s a very conservative estimate – we could save $15 million a year!”


Ray Walker

Senior Systems Consultant


The Field Level, including plant floor controllers, instrumentation and operating devices. Increasingly the PC is replacing the PLC as a more flexible and standardised basis for controllers. The trend is away from centralised control of “dumb” devices towards more distributed intelligence using Fieldbus networks. Integrating, optimising and modifying such control and instrumentation networks is easier and less costly when based on the open operating environment provided by the PC architecture, OPC (OLE for Production Control) and Windows NT with its proven real time extensions. And Fieldbus vendors now offer the TCP/IP communication protocol (as standard in office networks and the internet) to help in ‘wiring up’ the enterprise from office to shop floor.

Now Windows CE has been introduced to provide a compatible development environment for intelligent devices using embedded processors. Windows CE, while being compatible with “higher forms” of Windows, is not just a cut down version – it was designed from scratch beginning in 1993 to bring the benefits of the Windows GUI, the Win32 API and COM based object oriented software design to the embedded systems engineer. The built in communications features, including Secure internet and wireless communication interfaces, plus the extendable device driver architecture, mean that Windows CE controls can integrate easily with all Windows based applications at higher and lower levels in the factory hierarchy. And the latest development, Windows CE 3.0, introduces the “hard” real time performance required by the most demanding industrial control applications


Numerous Microsoft Business Application Partners are collaborating with Microsoft to develop seamless information flow within such a three level integrated manufacturing management systems infrastructure.

Using Windows DNA for manufacturing they are linking Enterprise Resource Planning, Advanced Production Scheduling, Manufacturing Execution and Process Control down to field device level, some of them using advanced hyper relational technology to provide a single data navigation paradigm to make the operating interface of all the underlying applications transparent to the user. This, for the time being, is the ultimate in integrated manufacturing information access.


SQL Server 7.0 for the Enterprise


Microsoft firmly believes that database technology should be an inherent, standardised part of the computing infrastructure because information management is the ultimate source of value to the enterprise and the majority of applications – in manufacturing as elsewhere – are dependent on data base technology. The database management system must be closely integrated with the rest of the computing and communications infrastructure.


SQL Server 7.0 is a major new release of Microsoft’s core database management system. It provides important new opportunities for manufacturers who require:

·         reduced costs of implementing, maintaining and developing information access and decision support systems based on multiple information sources;

·         a single, scalable database architecture supporting everything from local departmental data bases to enterprise level data warehouses;

·         a common integration point for the many different applications typically deployed in a manufacturing enterprise;

·         seamless integration of Microsoft Office into a SQL Server environment;

·         intrinsic links to Microsoft BackOffice


SQL Server 7.0 supports central repository and distributed architectures to serve the wide variety of data architectures that are optimal for specific applications. For example, a data warehouse is structured for rapid aggregation and interpretation of huge volumes of data, while an OLTP oriented data store is structured to guarantee integrity without any compromise. SQL Server 7.0 is able to support fully all applications architectures.


Typical database applications tend to put all data in a central repository to simplify the achievement of data consistency. However this often implies a closed environment in which data is not easy to access and integrate. To help eliminate these barriers to integration Microsoft developed the OLE DB interface. This is a specification of a Universal Data Access API that enables any proprietary application to publish data through an OLE DB driver. OLE DB technology thus provides a common way to access and manipulate data from different proprietary data stores. SQL Server 7.0 now extends this capability to the processing of data published through OLE DB from any data source.


“With the availability of commodity priced, easier to implement platforms like SQL Server, business intelligence solution sales continue to grow by over 40% per annum.


Dataquest, May 1998

The comprehensive information management facilities incorporated in SQL Server 7.0 include:

·         integrated Data Transformation Services (DTS) that make it easy to import, export and transform data from heterogeneous sources;

·         a very advanced query processor that offers high performance through parallel processing;

·         integrated OLAP Server offering multi-dimensional data storage and navigation for easy development of intelligent, interactive data modelling, corporate reporting and fast decision support applications;

·         Microsoft English Query that replaces complex SQL queries with questions written in plain English;

·         Microsoft Repository and the Open Information Model which help integrate and share meta data (i.e. data about data) about SQL Server databases, OLAP services, DTS and English Query;

·         automatic memory management, automatic space management and powerful suite of graphical tools for managing multiple servers – all aimed at reducing database administration overheads.

·         upgrade utility Wizard (SQL Server 6.5 to 7.0) based on extensive real life conversions with Microsoft applications partners and a large beta test program of more than 15,000.


Key design goals for SQL Server 7.0 have been:

·         scaleability – from laptop to multiprocessor cluster - not only upwards (the ‘many-terabyte’ database region) but downwards, bearing in mind that the vast majority of individual applications will be in small to medium sized companies;

·         minimal administrative overhead costs, bearing in mind the explosion in the size and number of databases that will arise from the increased access to commodity priced data management technology;

·         data warehousing ‘as standard’ with hybrid capability that permits concurrent access to multi-dimensional OLAP data bases and standard relational OLTP databases;

·         easy web publishing and support for mobile computing.


For a fuller account of the many detailed advances built into version 7.0 of SQL Server visit:


SQL Server 7.0 and the Data Warehouse

A data warehouse is usually considered to be a large-scale database, structured for on line analytical processing (OLAP). Until recently the application has been somewhat specialised and associated with data mining – for instance, the identification of buying patterns among millions of supermarket customers. OLAP is, however, just as valuable to a manufacturing enterprise, certainly in the commercial, purchasing and sales & marketing departments and further downstream in manufacturing, provided the technology can be implemented easily and at reasonable cost.


That is what Microsoft has set out to deliver by providing data warehousing off-the shelf. Recognising that enterprises of all sizes now make huge investments in data, Microsoft has made support for data warehousing (DW) and on line analytical processing (OLAP) a primary feature of SQL Server 7.0.

A data warehouse is a summarised and organised store of information collected from other systems and can become the foundation for decision support and data analysis in any part of the enterprise. In manufacturing some obvious opportunities are to provide frequent analysis of:


“As we see it, the first wave (of ERP investment) was about building the backbone of an ERP implementation. The second is about leveraging this to generate real returns”


Brian Johnson

Deloite and Touche

IT Consultant

Oct 1998

sales volumes, revenues and margins;

·         plant or service capacity utilisation;

·         machine reliability or scrap levels;

·         product quality and returns;

·         the market place and external influences.


Evidently data warehousing is the next step beyond ERP, increasing the value of the information captured by ERP systems through the extended ability to analyse that data and to take different views on it for a wider range of business purposes. ERP systems implemented on Sequel Server 7.0 automatically gain that advantage.


Kerry Foods Case Study

Kerry Foods Ltd is part of the Kerry Group, a major international food manufacturer with a turnover in excess of £1billion. In the UK Kerry Foods Ltd supplies both branded goods and own label products to retailers.


Prior to this project reporting was paper based and derived from an RDB database on a VAX. Kerry’s business is growing quickly with an increasing need to understand up-to-the-minute sales patterns and trends for numerous lines. The challenge addressed to the IS function was to put powerful but easy to use analysis and reporting facilities into the hands of key business managers, including finance, sales, head office and National Account Managers.


The solution is a sales and direct costs data warehouse in SQL Server 7.0 on a 400Mhz Pentium II server. OLAP Services (formerly code-named ‘Plato’) is used to provide multidimensional views of the data customised to the interest areas of the managers who use the system. The first application is built on a 370 MB database with 1.2 million fact rows, and is expected to grow at 25,000 fact rows per week. Already a second Direct Sales application has been successfully prototyped with an anticipated database size of 30 gigabytes and 35 million fact rows.



Information on the value and profitability of accounts can now be provided directly to their key business managers. National Account Managers can now focus on customer relationship and product issues without dependency on IS support.


“We are already seeing a considerable time saving in terms of (database) administration and performance”


Fernando Quinzi,

Project Manager,

Kerry Foods Ltd.


To enable these opportunities to be realised Microsoft has pursued three goals for SQL Server 7.0 data warehousing functionality:

·         minimise total cost of ownership by finding ways to reduce both the cost of acquiring tools to develop DW applications, and the cost of maintaining and developing them over time;

·         redefine scalability to include not only the large data warehouses typical today but the smaller sub sets of data that individual decision makers want to analyse;

·         improve integration of the elements needed to create a data warehouse solution, not only Microsoft BackOffice and Microsoft Office, but also the many third party products already used in this type of application; Microsoft recognises that data warehousing is inherently a multi-vendor solution and is focusing on creating an infrastructure that improves the sharing of data and metadata (data about data).


The whole aim is to create business advantage through better decision making, at all levels in the organisation, in a timely enough manner to make a difference.


Microsoft BackOffice – implementing integrated information management

SQL Server’s database capabilities are only part of the technology needed to ensure the success of an integrated information management infrastructure. Of vital importance are the capabilities to:

·         integrate the database with the desktop, and to connect to legacy applications. These capabilities deliver ease-of-use and maintain the opportunity for stepwise investment.

·         scale the database/operating system and application package to the needs of the organisation. These capabilities ensure an organisation need only buy what it requires at the time, yet is always free to grow.

·         integrate the database into an internet and intranet environment. These communication facilities enable the organisation to make maximum use of the internet as an information resource, and universal communication channel, as well as supporting in-house data and document distribution.

·         be able to develop and manage the database infrastructure at minimum cost, and thus achieve maximum results from any budget.

These requirements are the core purpose of Microsoft BackOffice.


Microsoft BackOffice is the most integrated server suite for the internet and the intranet. It consists of the following seamlessly integrated modules:

·         Microsoft Windows NT Server: a scalable, flexible, easy to use, market leading operating system platform scalable from single-user to clustered systems for global enterprise management;

·         Microsoft SQL Server 7.0: the best database for Windows NT Server, combining enterprise performance with workgroup simplicity and internet ‘reach’;

·         Microsoft Exchange Server: supporting client-server e-mail with mobile user support, message tracking, and integrated GroupWare;

·         Microsoft Internet Information Server: the easiest way to create an intranet, including Microsoft security technology;

·         Microsoft SNA Server: to provide access to legacy data;

·         Microsoft Systems Management Server: providing easy to use inventory and management of system components around the network.


Microsoft BackOffice brings together the industry standard Windows NT operating system with the database and communications packages needed to create the environment for an integrated information management infrastructure. Delivering ease of use, the lowest cost of ownership, the ability to integrate with other vendors’ products, availability of hundreds of third party solutions, and scalability from single user to global enterprise, Microsoft BackOffice is enabling companies around the world to achieve the benefits of integrated information management.


Delivering Integration across the Enterprise


Total Costs of Ownership


·         A couple of years ago there was much discussion about cost of ownership of ‘the PC’. Much of it was based on a number of misconceptions, principal among which were:

·         a failure to realise that the PC had stopped being just a personal computer and had become part of main stream computing;

·         the fact that a desktop ‘PC’ was likely to be running far more applications - and more useful applications - than the computer terminal system with which it was being compared;

·         the fact that the PC has become an integral part of office and business processes (‘close to the people’) so that these very processes have been changed by it, rather than merely being a tool for doing traditional things faster;

·         lack of appreciation of the tools available for managing the PC environment efficiently.


“In a recent analysis, David Readerman of Montgomery Securities found that a Microsoft BackOffice solution delivers equal capability at roughly half the cost per user of a comparable UNIX solution”.


Cambashi Ltd


The real issue is lifetime cost per unit of business benefit, where the PC is readily shown to score heavily provided it is applied in the right way and managed properly, like any other system.


Microsoft has put a lot of thinking into ways of reducing cost of ownership of Windows-based systems over their life cycle. That thinking has fed strongly into the Windows DNA strategy and the priorities given to new features in products such as SQL Server 7.0.


SQL Server 7.0 is believed to offer the lowest cost of ownership of any comparable database available today as a result of the following features:

·         everything comes ‘in-the-box’, not as extra cost options, including graphical administration tools, replication support, client software libraries, and support for native network protocols for all popular networks;

·         flexible, least-cost licensing options designed to support distributed computing and shift licensing options as networks grow;

·         advanced graphical database administration tools, combined with network support tools of Windows NT, together simplifying administration;


“Baan has endorsed SQL Server 7.0 as a premier platform because it delivers on the promise of a robust, easy to use database for Windows NT. At least 95% of our customer base can take advantage of Baan’s business software with SQL Server 7.0. It gives the opportunity to provide our customers with a totally integrated solution at a lower price, a more predictable cost of implementation and a lower total cost of ownership”


Tom Tinsley

Baan CEO

advanced features are simplified and built-in, including support for parallel processing, fail-over graceful degradation, encryption and internet integration.


Particular emphasis has been placed on reducing administration overheads and system resource usage through the automation of routine tasks with Dynamic Self-Management features such as automatic memory adjustment and file size growth and shrinkage features.



The Microsoft Support Structure


We have observed several times that the PC with Microsoft’s software infrastructure is now mainstream computing. It therefore requires mainstream quality and availability of support for users - end users, systems implementers and applications developers.


The Microsoft support infrastructure addresses the needs of all levels, including:

·         Microsoft Consulting Services, providing ‘from the horse’s mouth’ expertise to key partners or major projects;

·         Business Applications Partners - formally accredited ISV’s some of whom are also involved in taking forward Microsoft’s development tools and object technology.

·         Microsoft Solution Providers, formally trained and certified to various levels to provide implementation and customisation services; these include service companies of every size, from the local application reseller to the ‘big 5’ systems integrators concerned with major ERP implementations

·         web-based and telephone-based on-line support for the day to day queries of the end user.


The total support base numbers thousands of organisations. For SQL Server 7.0, for instance, even at launch date in November 1998 some 300 ISV’s were in process of signing up as Business Applications Partners, plus 20 international OEM’s, systems integrators and technology companies who will deliver integration and deployment services and hardware solutions


KTM Case History

When Kongsberg Techmatic* needed a new ERP system, IT Manager Jora Singh concedes that the trend in manufacturing towards Windows NT as the preferred platform for both networked CAD and business applications strongly influenced the company’s decision making. Also, in comparison with other platforms, Windows NT was financially attractive and would capitalise on the Windows skills acquired by the KTM work force on desktop packages.


While Fourth Shift had a good track record (as supplier of ERP systems to SME’s) it was the software developer’s status as a Certified Software Solutions Provider with Back Office accreditation that convinced KTM to choose its NT-based system. He knew that integration and data exchange with administration, finance and other desktop software would not be an issue. With an industry standard operating system, KTM also believed it would be easier to exchange data with customers and suppliers by EDI, e-mail and the internet.


(*Manufacturer of automatic clutch and transmission systems)

Source: Windows on Manufacturing Issue 7, 1999

The ‘Designed for Microsoft BackOffice’ logo was developed to help customers easily identify hardware and software products designed specifically to take advantage of key technologies in the Microsoft BackOffice family. Choosing products, which have gained the logo, assures customers that these products are integrated with the Microsoft BackOffice platform.


These days, of course, everyone has a logo programme, making it difficult to know what distinguishes one programme from another. In the case of Microsoft’s BackOffice logo, its uniqueness in the industry stems from the high technical standards that hardware and software must meet in order to qualify. Compliance with these standards is enforced through Microsoft approved testing.


For hardware systems, the standard specifies the minimum to ensure the system is a good BackOffice platform. For software products, BackOffice logos are divided into a number of categories (client, server, and development tool). Each category has specific requirements to ensure that the application takes advantage of BackOffice technologies.


The same rigorous approach applies to Microsoft Solution Providers. By awarding this certification, Microsoft is acknowledging that the organisation concerned has demonstrated high levels of knowledge and skill regarding Microsoft products - the high level that Microsoft believes its customers require.


Microsoft Solution Providers are capable of designing and implementing industry-leading solutions based on Microsoft’s market leading products. They can make use of the built-in integration capabilities in Microsoft BackOffice, for example, for legacy data and for inter/intranet communications, to efficiently deliver the systems an enterprise needs for competitive advantage. They understand the concept of the integrated information management infrastructure discussed in this paper, and can help you turn these ideas into an operational system.



We have shown how manufacturing business applications are being integrated into rapid access information systems for better decision making. And we have seen how the next step is for them to be transformed into ‘high bandwidth’ business intelligence systems as the Microsoft computing and communications infrastructure continues to extend in scope and reach.


“SQL Server 7 is really a product that was designed from the word go inside Microsoft as a breakthrough. A breakthrough in the sense that it would allow PC servers to scale up and take a position running applications in enterprises large and small that it never had before. And a breakthrough in terms of delivering new capabilities and new approaches, and new facilities that have not been available in databases on any operating system or any piece of hardware at any time.”


Steve Ballmer

Microsoft President

SQL Server 7.0 Launch

November 16, 1998“SQL Server 7 is really a product that was designed from the word go inside Microsoft as a breakthrough. A breakthrough in the sense that it would allow PC servers to scale up and take a position running applications in enterprises large and small that it never had before. And a breakthrough in terms of delivering new capabilities and new approaches, and new facilities that have not been available in databases on any operating system or any piece of hardware at any time.”


Steve Ballmer

Microsoft President

SQL Server 7.0 Launch

November 16, 1998

Over a thousand packaged products have been built on top of Microsoft SQL Server or have been designed to work with it. Every week, more companies deliver new products that leverage the speed, scalability, reliability and ease of use of Microsoft SQL Server and increase the choices open to manufacturing enterprises implementing digital nervous systems.


Microsoft, Win32, the Windows logo, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. AS/400 and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. Novell and UNIX are registered trademarks of Novell, Inc. in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company, Ltd. All other trademarks are held by their respective companies.

The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.

This document is for informational purposes only. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, in this summary.

(c) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 – the most recent extension - is a high-performance multi-dimensional and relational database management system, designed specifically for enterprise-class distributed computing. SQL Server 7.0 brings major new capabilities to Windows DNA for Manufacturing - the Microsoft framework for building integrated manufacturing business information systems.