HCL Technologies is a large, well-established multi-national company with an annual revenue of around $10B and worldwide employee count of well over 150K. They provide valuable solutions to about 20 different industries and related market segments. Over the years, I have had first hand insights to their semiconductor design services solutions but had not heard of VersionVault. Over the course of the last 12 months or so, there has been many writeups about HCL’s VersionVault software. Following is a summary what I gathered by researching VersionVault. The primary focus of this blog is to complement what was covered in a very recent blog by Manish Virmani, general manager at HCL Software Labs.
Before my research got underway, I figured VersionVault must be a product related to version control system. That turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.
VersionVault offers a safe, secure and powerful configuration system that provides controlled access to soft assets, including code, requirements, design documents, models, schematics, test plans and test results and enables ease of hardware/software co-development. It allows for tracking and managing changes for all of a product’s assets throughout the entire lifecycle of the product.
As good a product VersionVault is in terms of its built-in capabilities, its value to semiconductor and EDA customers is further differentiated through its integration to EDA tool suite platforms. It is currently integrated with Cadence Virtuoso platform and exploring integrations with more EDA tool suites including Synopsys Custom Compiler.
Figure 1: VersionVault Virtuoso Integration
Source: HCL Software Labs
In addition to features (refer to Figure 1) such as Interactive graphical schematic diff, command-line interface, hierarchical design management through a GUI, common tooling for SW and HW teams, etc., VersionVault also offers the following, not very obvious, nonetheless very important benefits depending on your particular role in the organization. Your role may be as a developer, engineering manager, project manager, QA manager, field support engineer, support manager, IT manager, CIO or CTO.
Ease of Adoption and Consistent Use
For ease of adoption and consistent use in practice, anything new should fit into the regular workflow. Seamless integration with EDA tool suite enables designers to take advantage of core capabilities of VersionVault, without leaving their familiar design environment.
Handling Multiple Versions of Product
Software products typically support multiple versions in the market at any given time. An engineer needs to be able to quickly switch between one development setup on version 1 to another development setup on version 2. Developers should be able to visualize the difference in versions across streams. VersionVault’s Unified Change Management feature makes that possible and enhances developer’s productivity.
Compliance to Procedures and Effective Management
Need for compliance to procedures and desire for minimal overhead is a delicate balancing act. VersionVault provides controlled access to soft assets, including code, requirements, design documents, models, schematics, test plans, and test results. User authentication and authoritative audit trails capabilities help meet compliance requirements with minimal administrative overheads.
Role-based Access and Control
As a company, you want a tool that can control access to IP based on one’s role on a project-level basis rather than just at the user-level basis. VersionVault allows you to create role-based specifications of access control, and reuse that specification across teams by assigning users to roles for each team. Access control can be modified at any level of the asset hierarchy, or inherited through the hierarchy if desired.
VersionVault provides effective authoritative build auditing. It helps streamline the edit-build-debug cycle and accurately reproduces software versions. By detecting dependencies, reusing derived objects wherever possible and producing detailed build audit trails, it helps ensure the reproducibility of software versions and improve build performance. To recreate a result, for debugging purposes or for analysis and review by a third party, this information is important.
Auditing and Compliance Support
For projects within regulated industries which require every change to be captured and logged, VersionVault makes it effort-less to comply. Every build of a “derived object” can automatically create a configuration record with every tool version and every file version used in its creation recorded. The configuration record may then be used for comparison purposes when a build goes bad, making it very easy to find what change caused the problem. Every configuration, which may consist of hundreds of thousands of files, can be recreated instantaneously, whether the configuration was created yesterday, or a decade ago.
The product name VersionVault is a two-word mashup. When we come across the word “vault”, a common imagery that pops in our head is of “bank vault”. Based on that, it is not unreasonable for one to think of VersionVault as just a safe and secure way to perform versioning. But as highlighted in this blog, VersionVault is much more than that. Out of curiosity, I looked up the word vault for synonyms and discovered that it has so many different synonyms. Some of the synonyms are bound (as in leaps and bounds), leap, rise, safe, soar, and structure. This expanded definition seems to be more descriptive of the scope and extent of the capabilities of the product.
You may want to do your own evaluation of VersionVault for consideration as a solution for use at your organization.
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