Altium Vault - Details for IT Departments

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While installation and use of Altium Vault Technology – in the form of an Altium Vault and its related services – is detailed across other pages within the Techdocs site, the aim of this page is to provide a single, detailed resource for an organization's IT department. A place to come to, for answers to typically asked questions regarding this technology, including:

  • What are the hardware requirements to install the Altium Vault?
  • What is installed?
  • What programs and processes are running?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • What ports are used?
  • What protocol is used for communications?
  • How is data backed-up?

The following sections provide detailed answers to these and other questions, including a high-level overview of the architecture and data flows.

Hardware Requirements

The Altium Vault can be installed on a PC running one of the following Operating Systems:

  • Windows 10 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows 8.1 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows 8 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008/2012 R2 (32-bit or 64-bit, where applicable)
For versions of the Altium Vault earlier than Altium Vault 2.6, the Windows Server 2008/2012 (32-bit or 64-bit, where applicable) operating system is also supported.

Below are the recommended and minimum system requirements to install and run an Altium Vault. Note that these recommendations are for 10 to 30 concurrent users.

Recommended System Requirements

  • OS: Windows Server 2012 R2
  • RAM: 8Gb+
  • Processor: Intel® Xeon® processor or equivalent (4 or more cores)
  • Disk space: 20Gb (in case NIS will not be used)
  • Database: Firebird

Minimum System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • RAM: 6Gb+
  • Processor: Intel Core i3/i5 processor or equivalent (2 or more cores)
  • Disk space: 20Gb (in case NIS will not be used)
  • Database: Firebird

The Altium Vault relies on a number of Microsoft runtime components for successful operation and access, in some situations these may not be present on the target machine. If you receive an error message about a missing library (DLL) when you attempt to sign into an Altium Vault, it indicates that there are missing Microsoft runtime components. To-date, this is only known to occur on Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Datacenter.

Use this link to download and install these missing components: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=29

Altium Designer Requirements

Connection to an Altium Vault from within Altium Designer is only possible from Altium Designer 13.0 (or later).

To fully access and appreciate the features and technologies associated to, and installed with, the Altium Vault, requires the latest version of Altium Designer.

Installation & Other Software

Due to the observed unpredictable behavior of antivirus software, it is recommended to disable such software during the installation of the Altium Vault (2.0 or later).

If the computer is also running Microsoft Exchange Server, you might receive an HTTP Error 503 error when you first attempt to log in. The installation of the Exchange Server can change the Internet Information Services (IIS) configuration in a way that conflicts with the Vault. To resolve this, refer to this FAQ.

Disabling FIPS Policy for Installation of Vault 2.6

With Altium Vault 2.6, the Altium Vault Installer prevents installation on a computer where the FIPS compliance​ policy is enabled. Microsoft .NET Framework applications such as Microsoft ASP.NET only allow for using algorithm implementations that are certified by NIST to be FIPS 140 compliant. Specifically, the only cryptographic algorithm classes that can be instantiated are those that implement FIPS-compliant algorithms. Altium Vault 2.6 requires MD5 hash for licensing purposes, and this is not FIPS-compliant.

To install successfully, you will need to disable this policy on your machine. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Disable the System cryptography: Use FIPS compliant algorithms for encryption, hashing, and signing policy. This can be found through the Local Security Policy dialog on your machine - accessed from Window's Administrative Tools window. Simply navigate to the policy, located in the Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options folder. Double-click on the policy and choose the Disabled option in the subsequent properties dialog.

  1. In the Windows Registry, navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\FipsAlgorithmPolicy. Edit the Enabled entry and set to 0 (0x00000000).
If the FIPS policy cannot be disabled (company policy not to) then you will not be able to install Altium Vault 2.6, and would need to upgrade to Altium Vault 3.0, or later. In this later Vault, a custom MD5 implementation has been used to satisfy licensing requirements, while avoiding conflict with the FIPS policy, where enabled.

Additional Software Installed or Configured

  • Internet Information Services (IIS). For correct operation, the Altium Vault requires, at minimum, version 7 (IIS 7.0) to be installed. Installation of the Altium Vault will simply install the version of IIS native to your operating system:
    • IIS 8.5 - Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2
    • IIS 8.0 - Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
    • IIS 7.5 - Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
    • IIS 7.0 - Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
  • Firebird 2.5 database engine (where the option to install using a Firebird database is chosen)
  • .NET Framework 4.0

IIS Configuration

As part of IIS configuration, the ISAPI Extensions feature is enabled. This feature can be found in the \Internet Information Services\World Wide Web Services\Application Development Features section of the Windows Features dialog – accessed from Window's Programs and Features window.

Installation of the Altium Vault enables the Windows ISAPI Extensions feature, part of IIS configuration.

Application Pools Installed on IIS

The following application pools are installed on the IIS server:

  • Altium Vault
  • Altium Vault - Applications Registry Service
  • Altium Vault - Comments Service
  • Altium Vault - Configurations Management
  • Altium Vault - Data Acquisition Service
  • Altium Vault - Data Storage Service
  • Altium Vault - Discovery Service
  • Altium Vault - Event Dispatching Service
  • Altium Vault - Identity Service
  • Altium Vault - Network Installation Management
  • Altium Vault - Network Installation Service
  • Altium Vault - Notifications Service
  • Altium Vault - Part Catalog Management
  • Altium Vault - Part Catalog Service
  • Altium Vault - Projects Management
  • Altium Vault - Projects Service
  • Altium Vault - Search Service
  • Altium Vault - Security Service
  • Altium Vault - Simple Lock Service
  • Altium Vault - Team Configuration Service
  • Altium Vault - User Management
  • Altium Vault - Vault Explorer
  • Altium Vault - Vault Service
  • Altium Vault - VCS Management

Verification that the Altium Vault is running can be performed from the Windows Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager panel – accessed from Window's Administrative Tools window. Simply check to confirm each of these application pools are in the Started state.

Altium-related application pools running on the IIS server.

Applications that are running as IIS ISAPI modules are:

  • Altium.DxpAppServer.CommentsService.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.NIS.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.NIS.UI.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.NotificationService.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.ProjectsManagement.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.ProjectsService.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.Search.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.SimpleLockService.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.TC2.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.TC2.UI.dll
  • Altium.DxpAppServer.VCSManagement.dll
  • Altium.DXPAppsServer.DataStorageService.dll
  • CatalogManagement.dll
  • DataAcquisitionService.dll
  • DXPAppServerRegistry.dll
  • EDS.dll
  • IDS.dll
  • PartCatalog.dll
  • SecurityService.dll
  • ServiceDiscovery.dll
  • UserManagement.dll
  • Vault.dll
  • VaultExplorer.dll

These applications can be browsed under the Altium Vault site, in the left-hand pane of the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager panel.

Default Installation Paths

The following is a list of default installation paths when installing the Altium Vault:

  • Altium Vault Installation Folder\Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault.
  • Firebird Installation Folder\Program Files (x86)\Firebird\Firebird_2_5.
  • Vault Application Folder\Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault\Vault.
  • Firebird Database\ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\DXPServer.dat.
  • Revision Files Folder\ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\Revisions.
  • Search Index Data Folder\ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\SearchData.

Default Ports

The following default communication port numbers are used by the Altium Vault Services and Firebird server:

  • Service Port Number9780
  • Firebird Server Port3050
The Service Port Number is a HTTP port served by IIS and used by Vault applications. It is the main port, and should always be open. The Firebird Server Port is used for and by the Firebird RDBMS. By default it is binded only to localhost. It SHOULD NOT be exposed externally, for security reasons. Users do not interact with this port directly. Both ports provide regular HTTP interaction (request/response).
Both ports can be customized. The Service Port Number can be changed during installation. While the Firebird Server Port can be changed manually, it is not recommended to do so.

HTTPS Protocol support

The ability to establish secure communications over networks using the HTTPS protocol (on port 9785) was introduced in Altium Vault version 2.6.

Default Service & Management URLs

The following are the default service URLs for the Altium Vault:

  • Applications Registry Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/appserverregistry
  • Comments Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/comments
  • Data Acquisition Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/dataacquisition
  • Data Storage Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/dss
  • Discovery Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/servicediscovery
  • Event Dispatching Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/eds
  • Identity Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/ids
  • Network Installation Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/nis
  • Notifications Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/notifications
  • Part Catalog Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/catalog
  • Projects Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/projects
  • Search Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/search
  • Security Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/security
  • Simple Lock Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/sls
  • Team Configuration Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/tc2
  • Vault Servicehttp://<computername>:9780/vault

The following are the default management URLs for the Altium Vault (URLs corresponding to pages of the Altium Vault's browser-based interface):

  • User Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/usermanagement
  • VCS Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/vcsmanagement
  • Vault Explorerhttp://<computername>:9780/vaultexplorer
  • Part Catalog Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/catalogmanagement
  • Projects Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/projectsmanagement
  • Configurations Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/tc2console
  • Network Installation Managementhttp://<computername>:9780/nisconsole

Protocol used for Service-to-Service Communications

SOAP over HTTP.

Service Architecture – Overview

The Altium Vault installs a number of core services, as well as browser-based management consoles, and a Vault Explorer (also browser-based). In order to access any of these services, a user's identity must be recognized and authenticated. The Altium Vault comes with one predefined user (Username: admin, Password: admin). The User Management browser-based application can be used to add and manage more users. There is no limit to the number of users that may be registered to access and use the vault, but there is a limit on simultaneous connections, as determined and enforced by required licensing.

The User Management application can be accessed from an external browser (http://<computername>:<portnumber>/usermanagement) – sign in through the browser interface using the same vault credentials used to connect through Altium Designer. Alternatively, access can be made through Altium Designer via the Users view – available under the Home page (View » Home). Unlike access through an external browser, the Users view populates in relation to signing into the Altium Vault (and consequently connecting to that vault) from Altium Designer. So while signed in to the vault, the information in this view will be instantly available – there is no additional 'signing-in'.

The same user can be accessing the Altium Vault concurrently in different ways (e.g. connected through Altium Designer AND signed-in through an external Web Browser) and it only counts as a single connection from the licensing perspective.

Altium Designer uses an unencrypted channel (SOAP over HTTP) for communicating with the following services:

  • Applications Registry Service (when the Network Installation Service is being used as a source for extensions/updates)
  • Comments Service
  • Data Acquisition Service
  • Data Storage Service (DSS)
  • Identity Service (IDS)
  • Notifications Service
  • Part Catalog Service
  • Projects Service
  • Simple Lock Service (SLS)
  • SVN (through the SVN:// protocol)
  • Team Configuration Service (TC2)
  • Vault Service

All other services communicate with each other.

The majority of services require access to the same vault database, in which to store data applicable to them. The following are examples of the data stored by some of these services:

  • Part Catalog Service – stores supplier and manufacturer items, price and quantity history changes, etc...
  • Identity Service – stores users, roles, licensing configuration, and session information.  
  • Vault Service – stores its structure (folders, items, revisions, content types, lifecycle states, etc...).

Actual documents are stored on the file system, in the Revisions folder (\ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\Revisions).

The Part Catalog Service also requires a direct connection (without a proxy) to the Internet, for real-time price updates.

The following browser-based applications use SOAP API to communicate to the applicable services - they do not require access to the vault database, nor are any other files required for them to function:

  • User Management - the application behind the Users page and sub-pages in the vault's browser interface.
  • Vault Explorer - the application behind the Vault page of the vault's browser interface.
  • Part Catalog Management - the application behind the Suppliers page of the vault's browser interface.
  • Projects Management - the application behind the Projects page of the vault's browser interface.
  • Configurations Management - the application behind the Configurations page of the vault's browser interface.

The Part Catalog Management application is where you can configure individual suppliers in relation to the vault's local Part Catalog, to provide supply link intelligence.

License Files

Related article: Altium Vault Licensing

Licensing for the Altium Vault essentially consists of the following two components, that together comprise a two-tiered licensing system:

  • Server License - this license determines which features and services of the Altium Vault installation are made available to the organization. Remember that the physical installation of the Altium Vault includes all features and services, so this license simply unlocks some or all of those features, depending on the type of server license purchased.
  • Client Access License - this license determines which features of the Altium Vault installation can be accessed by the users within an organization. While the server license unlocks a particular feature set for use by the organization, it is the Client Access License that determines which of those unlocked features and services can be accessed and used by the people within that organization.
Both Server and Client Access license types are available in three distinct license bundles - Component, Workgroup and Enterprise - with the Enterprise bundle in each case giving an organization, and its users, access to all installed vault technologies.

Licensing for the Altium Vault is handled locally through license files (*.alf). Acquisition of the required license files is performed through the AltiumLive Dashboard (accessed using the DASHBOARD control at the top of the Altium website). From the Licenses tab, locate the applicable license (in the Server Applications grouping of licenses) then click through to the detailed license management page. Once there, click the Activate button to generate and download the associated license file.

Once the license files are downloaded, drop them into the root installation folder for the Altium Vault (the default for which is \Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault).
The software checks every hour for the presence of valid license files. Without a valid Server License, access to the Altium Vault will not be possible. If there is a valid Server License, but no valid Client Access Licenses (no available connections), a single administrative connection is permitted for backup and configuration purposes.

Backup/Restore of Vault Data

Backup and restoration of your vault data is performed from the command line, in automated fashion, using the dedicated Backup & Restore Tool. This tool - avbackup.exe - can be found in the folder \Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault\Tools\BackupTool\ (for a default installation of the Altium Vault).

You must run the command prompt in administrator mode to be able to use the Backup and Restore tool.
If you are upgrading your Altium Vault to a later version, backup is handled as part of the installation process. However, while the Altium Vault installer includes automated backup of your existing vault, it is always a good idea to make a pre-update backup of your data yourself - taking a redundancy copy off to one side as it were. This provides additional safety, should any unforeseen technical difficulties arise. Additionally, it is advised to test out a new release of the Altium Vault on a different machine, before updating your production instance. Use of Virtual Machines can be invaluable in this respect.

Updating the Vault Installation

To upgrade an Altium Vault to a later version, first uninstall the existing version. This is performed from the standard Programs and Features page (accessed from the Control panel). Simply right-click on the entry for the Altium Vault <VersionNumber> and use the Uninstall command from the context menu.

To keep existing vault data, be sure to click No when prompted in the Uninstall dialog – one of the confirmation dialogs that appear through the uninstall process. Doing so will result in the vault software being removed from the computer, but the respective Database and Revision Files folders (and their content) remaining.

Uninstalling an Altium Vault, but keeping the data!

Once this is done, install the later version of Altium Vault software. Just remember to install with the same settings for vault data locations and the same communications port number.

When installing the new version of Altium Vault, at the Select Destination Location page a dialog may appear alerting that this folder already exists. The uninstall removes the vault software, but does not remove any license file, which is why the folder remains. Simply click Yes to install to that same folder.

Re-Indexing Vault Content after Data Migration

To re-index vault content, for example after data migration:

  1. Stop all IIS application pools associated to the Altium Vault.
  2. Delete the content of the SearchData folder, which contains the search indexing data (\ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\SearchData for a default install).
  3. Restart the IIS application pools.

On finding the SearchData folder empty, the vault will re-index its content once it starts.

Local SVN Design Repository - Storage

A Design Repository that is created through the local Version Control Service has its internal data stored in a corresponding sub-folder in the \ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\Repository folder (for a default installation of the Altium Vault).

The \ProgramData\Altium\VaultServerData\Repository folder should not be accessed in any way, other than by IT personnel for maintenance.

Internal data storage location for a Design Repository created through the Altium Vault installation's local SVN-based Version Control Service.

Using Oracle for the Vault Database

When installing the Altium Vault, the Oracle database type facilitates streamlined installation of the Altium Vault within organizations already utilizing this type of database as the back-end for their existing systems. Hosting the vault on their existing infrastructure, reduces installation and management complexity.

Getting the Altium Vault installed and running with Oracle as its back-end database is essentially a two-fold process:

  1. Setting up the Oracle database
  2. Setting up the Altium Vault.
It is recommended to install the Altium Vault (version 2.0 or later) on a separate machine to the Oracle database itself. In addition, ensure that the dedicated machine onto which the vault is installed has abundant storage space and computing resources.

Preparing the Altium Vault

To be installed and run successfully, the Altium Vault requires not only the OCI client, but also relevant .Net connectors. It is recommended to install the relevant 32-bit Oracle Data Access Components (ODAC) with Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio, in accordance with the version of Oracle you are running. For testing, the ODAC 11.2 Release 5 and Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio (11.2.0.3.20) download was installed on the dedicated machine used to accommodate the vault.

The Altium Vault also requires configuration of tnsnames.ora.
The vault's database structure is created and updated during the installation process, so if there are strict policies for DDL execution from DBA side, the database structure could be created in a temporary space or server, checked, and then moved to the intended production server manually. If this is done, the Altium Vault will need to be reconfigured to use that production server.
The Altium Vault Backup & Restore tool does not support database backup when using an Oracle database as the back-end. Backup must therefore be performed in cooperation with the Oracle DBA.

 

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