As Cadence IT experts engage with customers who are building and maintaining CAD infrastructures, they see three primary problem areas: storage, networking, and Linux. This post provides some "best practices" suggestions that may help design teams avoid difficulties in these areas.
Peter Vincent, senior IT architect for customer enablement at Cadence, noted that customers often complain of "slowness" in their CAD tools. They've engaged with Cadence support and confirmed the tools are installed and configured properly, yet they still aren't achieving the level of productivity that the tools should allow. Upon investigation, problems with storage, networking, and/or Linux are often the root causes. These issues cut across geographies.
Some tips from Peter for making the best use of storage, networking, and Linux follow.
- Use a dedicated storage device. Trying to save money by using other ways of storing data often results in greatly increased job runtimes due to the time it takes to read and write the data.
- Keep your data centrally. Compute farm and desktop systems are good for scratch areas, but you run the risk of performance, support, security and backup headaches if you allow important data to be stored on individual systems.
- Keep the firmware of your storage device up to date to maintain stability.
- Plan ahead. Storage gets used up very quickly. Consider using an archive procedure to move older, non-critical data to cheaper storage or tape media where it can be stored for years in case it's required again at a later date. This frees up space for current projects on your main storage device, reduces your costs, and helps encourage a more organized environment that's easier to manage.
- Choose one networking vendor and purchase what you need from them. Mixing network equipment can cause stability and performance issues.
- Keep your devices on a current support contract and keep the firmware up to date to reduce support issues and outages.
- Make sure your networking equipment will meet your forecast growth plan. Bolting on additional hardware to resolve issues that arise later can lead to much bigger problems down the road.
- Monitor your network to ensure that you spot problems as soon as they arise. Be sure to check for common faults like misconfigured ports. Such problems can cause massive delays in run times.
- Keep your Linux image consistent across your environment, and patched. This is a simple way to ensure consistency and improve stability.
- Restrict root access to systems administrators and trusted personnel. Wide-open root access can lead to problems as each user installs their own software and creates a unique environment on their machine, again reducing stability.
- As in networking, monitor your environment, map the trends of your resource usage, peaks and troughs. All this data can then be used to help the planning process avoid major issues in your design cycle.
A final piece of advice from Peter: "Make sure your IT, CAD and engineering groups meet and talk regularly about the needs of the business and how these can be met with the budget and resources available. Poor communication leads to poor planning, which leads to poor results."
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