Using SDLC at GM Wilmington Assembly… BSA 375 Gordon Hodgson July 6, 2004 Abstract The Software Development Life Cycle is seldom used at my place of work. Unfortunately, recent developments in its use are deemed confidential. Due to this fact, this paper will examine in general terms one of the projects we are undertaking right now while at the same time attempting to maintain our confidentiality. The project that will be examined is an upgrade to our main Human-Machine Interface (HMI) software: Cimplicity, to SQL Server and to the Windows OS. Cimplicity is a product of the GE Fanuc group of General Electric.
This group develops a full suite of applications used in the manufacturing environment. By way of introduction, the manufacturing floor environment uses a variety of types of equipment. To control these machines, a specialized computer is used. For the purposes of simplicity (not the program), this paper will refer to them all as PLC’s or Programmable Logic Controllers.
Most of these PLC’s are accessible via the ethernet and communicate to our Protocol Data Units (PDU) in the computer room. These PDU’s have Cimplicity installed on them in the form of projects that are named for the various areas or functions of our plant such as GA or General Assembly. The project we are undertaking will be a fundamental change to these PDU’s in our computer room. The servers currently run Windows NT and will be upgraded to Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 and SQL Server will will be upgraded from version 7 to SQL 2000. Using SDLC at GM Wilmington Assembly The most recent history of our HMI software upgrades has been full of small upgrades, hot fixes (quick patches provided by GE) and changes to minor configuration items on the projects themselves. Recently, spurred by an announcement from Microsoft that Windows NT would soon be unsupported, GM decided it was time to upgrade its servers.
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The new servers would have Windows 2003 Server and any client or production computer would have Windows 2000. Any SQL Server will run SQL 2000 after the upgrade. The project began as a somewhat simple server hardware and software upgrade and has moved into a full-blown consolidation, network upgrade and server consolidation. From the outset, both EDS and GM have agreed to use a CMMi framework for all actions relating to this upgrade.
Systems Investigation The first step in the process was to assign a group of EDS personnel that would handle what is called a “Blockpoint” in GM speak. These people would be charged with assessing the needs of the various plants across the GM enterprise. The effort would be huge since this would be an international project (Canada, Mexico and the US).
This group began by sending out a series of system surveys to get a snapshot of the systems at the various plants. This was facilitated by a new system of coordinated support called “ACE” which placed personnel from across the corporation in a Cimplicity group. Once they got a picture of the needs and the lack of commonality, the negotiations began between EDS and GM to determine what this upgrade would consist of.
This leads to the next step of the SDLC called Systems Analysis. Systems Analysis Since the stated goal of the upgrade is to move from Windows NT wherever possible, the scope of the project has expanded considerably. Cimplicity has a data logging component that uses SQL server as a repository. Therefore, there has been a move toward upgrading the SQL servers as well. For the most part, the focus of the Blockpoint has been on the various Cimplicity- based applications. These have been separated into vital, critical and non-critical categories.
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GM has determined that these vital and critical applications must be able to run with either no or only minimal interruption. The systems must be designed to prevent plant downtime and loss of units of production. The SQL server environment must also be available for both input and output of data during the production day. Once the general rules and assumptions were laid down and the current systems were catalogued from the various plants, a full-blown system architecture plan was developed and a site to pilot the upgrade was selected.
The pilot plant would establish the methods to be used during the upgrade in general terms as well as produce a set of documentation for our ISO work instructions. The next phase of the Blockpoint is system design. System Design The System design phase of this project has been somewhat protracted since the GM team changed in mid-stream. As is always the case, when an established team is replaced, some of the assumptions are changed and therefore the plans are changed. A new site was chosen for the pilot and the architecture was altered as well. This set us back in our schedule somewhat but hasn’t affected the pilot dates.
Our final architecture is based on the three categories mentioned earlier: Vital, Critical and Non-Critical. Anything deemed Vital is to be installed in a cluster to allow for quick fail over in the event of a failure. Anything in the Critical group will have a single backup server onto which a fail over can be performed. The Non-Critical applications will not need any facility for fail over. All Cimplicity PDU’s will be consolidated into four production servers with one backup server. In the case of Wilmington, we have 14 PDU’s (Compaq Deskpro’s), most of which are running a single project.
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These 14 will be consolidated onto the four new servers. These servers will be much more powerful with quad xenon processors and lots of RAM. In the end, our computer room will look much different than it does now. Our SQL server environment will also undergo a change, but not so radical in terms of size reduction. The new cluster will also employ a Clarion storage unit to allow a seamless move from server to server in the event of a fail over. In the end, most of what is now taking up space in our computer room will no longer exist.
Systems Implementation As mentioned earlier, the first step in implementation is a pilot. The pilot will be performed in Arlington. They are in effect the prototype for the upgrade. The next step in the process is to schedule the other plants in North America. The roll out will be done in three groups from now until the end of the year. The equipment will be ordered and a deployment team will visit the plants to stand up the servers.
The cut over strategy is still in development and may be determined by the pilot. Initial plans state that the new systems will be placed into production during a down period, whether over a weekend, in the middle of the night or during a scheduled shutdown. A team consisting of both local and central support assets will install the software and bring up the local Cimplicity projects. They will also backup and migrate any data onto the new SQL clusters and re mediate any local applications that break as a result of the OS upgrade. The goal of the installation is to avoid any loss of production units. System Maintenance The final product of this Blockpoint will be a GM corporate systems environment that has a great deal more commonality across North America.
The central support groups will therefore be much more able to lend a hand during both emergency and maintenance situations. A side benefit of the new equipment is the resumption of maintenance contracts that have lapsed at Wilmington. Future Blockpoint will be enhanced by the extent of the commonality that results from this one. In the past, upgrades to Cimplicity were hit or miss activities that were the individual choice of the local IS managers. In the future, every plant will participate in the upgrades in the same fashion as they are in this one. This is in line with GM’s desire to act as one company.
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Conclusion This process is still ongoing and there is still some distance to go before this entire Blockpoint is completed. Some of the material that would have provided more details for this paper are confidential and the web sites we use to communicate direction for the Blockpoint are all on the intranet. I have provided links to sites that give some background on Cimplicity and the SEI site for information on CMMi. ResourcesCimplicity. Retrieved July 7, 2004, 2004 from web SEI. Retrieved March 22, 2004 from web PowerPoint presentation by Gordon Hodgson about the SDLC (Gordon Hodgson, classroom email, July 1, 2004).