Exchange data with the AIMMS Cloud Platform

This document aims to introduce you to the options for exchanging data with the AIMMS Cloud Platform.

Introduction

Most AIMMS applications import data from other systems and/or export data to other systems, beyond manual file upload into the app. For on-premise AIMMS installations that exchange data with other on-premise systems this can all be arranged using the standards, procedures and custodians of that on-premise environment.

This document describes the options for exchanging data between on-premise systems and AIMMS apps running on the AIMMS Cloud Platform. It is focused on ‘hands-free’ exchange excluding manual uploads and downloads.

basic-structure

Figure 1 – Exchanging data between on-premise systems and AIMMS apps running in the AIMMS Cloud Platform

In this context the ‘application database’ is the database from/to which the AIMMS project reads/writes data (not to be confused with the AIMMS PRO database where apps, users and configuration of the AIMMS PRO instance are stored). This database is a paid option for the AIMMS Cloud Platform service.

Options Overview

We support four options for exchanging data between on-premise systems and AIMMS apps running on the AIMMS Cloud Platform.

Options:

  1. Via a connection with the Application Database that can form part of a customer’s set-up in the AIMMS Cloud Platform.
  2. Via a direct connection to an on-premise database.
  3. Via the AIMMS PRO API using the commands to upload and download files to/from PRO Storage.
  4. Via a web service offered on the internet from the on-premise IT infrastructure with which the AIMMS apps interact using the AIMMS HTTP Client library.

Deciding which option is right depends on your situation. Each option is discussed in further detail below.

Please carefully consider latency when choosing an option; in particular Option 2 might hurt the responsiveness of apps.

Option 1: Via a connection with the Application Database

Here the Application Database in the AIMMS Cloud Platform acts as decoupling connection point. On-premise systems can exchange data with this database (currently MySQL only), for example via syncing or via import or export components. AIMMS does not offer such components as there are many components available for that purpose, both commercially and as open-source.

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Figure 2 – Exchanging data via the application database in the AIMMS Cloud Platform

Note

See https://dev.mysql.com/doc/index-connectors.html for details how to connect to MySQL databases.

All traffic takes place via a VPN tunnel that is initiated from the on-premise environment, so there is no need to permit incoming connections with associated security risks. This VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel offers high information security because it creates a virtual private connection by encapsulating and encrypting all data packets.

More details of the relevant parts of the AIMMS Platform architecture can be found in More details on AIMMS Cloud Platform architecture.

Option 2: Via a connection directly to an on-premise database

Here the AIMMS application will directly interact with an on-premise database, reading and/or writing data using the built-in AIMMS commands. Again all traffic takes place via a VPN tunnel that is initiated from the on-premise environment, so there is no need to permit incoming connections with associated security risks. This VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel offers high information security because it creates a virtual private connection by encapsulating and encrypting all data packets.

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Figure 3 - Exchanging data directly with an on-premise database

Option 3: Via the AIMMS PRO API

The AIMMS PRO API allows direct interaction with the PRO Back End and includes functions to upload or download files to/from AIMMS PRO Storage. AIMMS PRO Storage is the file system to which the AIMMS Apps running on AIMMS PRO have access. The on-premise environment will require a custom application (Java or .net) to access the AIMMS PRO API for this purpose.

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Figure 4 – Exchanging data via the AIMMS PRO API

In order to get data files from the on-premise systems to an AIMMS app running on the AIMMS Cloud Platform, the on-premise custom application will need to upload the appropriate file(s) to the appropriate folder in the AIMMS PRO Storage. The developer of the AIMMS app will then use AIMMS functions to read these data files into the app.

The PRO API shares information security measures with the AIMMS PRO Portal such as lock-out on repeated logon failures, https encryption, optional IP range filtering and security event logging. In addition, the communications are secured by temporary tickets that can be seen as security tokens.

Option 4: Via a web-service

With the HTTPS Client Library for AIMMS an app developer can add functionality to an AIMMS app to interact with a web-service, for example retrieving data or submitting data. The on-premise environment needs to be extended with appropriate web services that are exposed to the internet, custom programmed for the application.

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Figure 5 – Exchanging data via custom web services

Knowing the authentication and communication protocol of the bespoke web service, the developer of the AIMMS app can use the AIMMS HTTPS Client Library to add a procedure to the app that writes data to this web services or retrieves data from that web service.

For this option the information security measures are completely in the hands of the developers of the web service offered from the on-premise platform.

Examples

Examples of how our customers have arranged their data exchange:

  1. Every 5 minutes a web-service is called to retrieve the latest data which is then immediately processed by the AIMMS app.
  2. From an on-premise database all new customer orders are written once a day to the cloud-based application database.
  3. User can hit a button in the AIMMS app that triggers a data import from an on-premise database containing the production planning so that they are working on the latest data.
  4. An AIMMS application writes XML files to AIMMS PRO storage. An on-premise utility retrieves those files once every hour using the PRO API.

More details on AIMMS Cloud Platform architecture

The following diagram depicts the part of the AIMMS Cloud Platform architecture relevant for exchanging data. The application databases are placed in customer-specific VPCs that include gateways to receive incoming VPN connections.

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Figure 6 – Simplified diagram showing the relevant parts of the AIMMS Cloud Platform architecture