I am occasionally asked for advice regarding what skills someone should study to advance as a Teamcenter administrator. Some of the typical questions may be:
- Will learning SQL help me get a job as a TC admin?
- what things should I study to get opportunities in BMIDE?
- If I want to support Teamcenter from the server side, would it be better to learn SQL or Unix Administration?
The short answer is, “it depends”.
Well, there was another kid in that same computer lab. I think he was the one telling me about the artificial intelligence game he was working on in some dialect of Lisp or Prolog or something. He looked at this web thing too. And he also realized that it was just about useless because you couldn’t find anything on it. But he decided to do something about it.
His name… was Larry Page.
(Don’t know who Larry Page is? Google him.)
In order to answer the questions, let’s discuss the various types of “Teamcenter admins” there are. Depending on where you are there may be one or more people dedicated to each type of administration task, or one person may be doing it all. Regardless, I think it’s useful to distinguish between the different types of Teamcenter “administrators”.
At the base level is the person maintaining the database server. This person may not know anything about Teamcenter other than it’s just another database that needs to have space allocated for it, have its performance tuned, be backed up regularly, etc. At this level there’s nothing fundamentally special about Teamcenter that the admin needs to know; it’s just one database out of the dozens that he or she are responsible for.
To excel here you’re going to need to all about the specific database software you’re running — Oracle or DB2 or SQL Server or whatever. You really don’t need to know much of anything about Teamcenter.
Next up is the person or persons who install Teamcenter on the servers, set up the caching servers, configure the web tier, etc. etc. They will also be the ones who use TEM to install data model templates. These admins have to know more specific information about Teamcenter’s architecture, but they don’t really have to know much about how the software is configured or how users use it. At this level you’re concerned with the actual boxes you’re installing Teamcenter on and whether you’re going to use JBoss or Websphere. The primary skill set for this type of admin would be anything that any other Unix or Windows administrator needs to know.
Data Model Administrator
These are the people who design the data model using the BMIDE. I don’t know about you, but to me this is where it starts to get interesting. This is where you finally start to get into configuring Teamcenter for your specific business needs and processes.
Obviously you will need to know how to use the BMIDE. To a lesser extent you need to know the basics of XML, but you don’t have to be an expert. You should have a good understanding of object oriented modeling. The more often you’ve tried to model some system as an object model, the better.
But the main thing you have to know to succeed here is the BMIDE itself, or more specifically, all of the things you can configure with it. There is a metric ton of things you can configure with the BMIDE. Each of them is a tool in your tool belt. The more tools you have, the more you can do. So you really need to read the documentation and you really need to just experiment with the BMIDE as much as you can. The stronger your understanding of the toolset, the more often you’ll be able to propose a solution to the problem of the day.
I lied. There isn’t one main thing you need to know here. You also should know as much as you can about the business of the users. That means you should know about engineering and manufacturing procedures in general, and specifically the business practices at your company (or your client’s company, as the case may be). You want to ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the answers.
Now we come to the application administrators. These are Teamcenter users who belong to the dba group (or more precisely, they belong to a group that has the “DBA” checkbox enabled). They are similar to the Data Model administrators in that they configure how Teamcenter will work for the regular users. They design workflows, configure the access rules, set up the organization structure, etc. Workflow design is probably the area where you have the most opportunity for finding creative solutions to problems, so I tend to think of that as the most interesting application admin task.
Just like you need to know your business’s processes to be a data model administrator, you need to know them to be an application administrator too.
In my opinion, If you want to advance in your career supporting Teamcenter what you want to avoid is being the guy or gal who can be handed a list of requirements and then run off and implement them. You want to be they guy or gal who’s helping to figure out what the requirements are. It takes no great skill to add a new item type to the data model and add some properties to it because that’s what you were told to do. Being able to decide what item types should be added and what their properties should be is a different story. You want to be able to understand what your customer’s problems are and be able to find ways to solve those problems. If you can do that, you’ll do very well for yourself (and that’s true of just about any profession, honestly).
What about you?
What type of administrator(s) are you?
What kind do you want to be?
What skills do you find most helpful for the administration you do?