Faut-il installer SOLIDWORKS PDM sur un contrôleur de domaine ?

Article by Joe Perera updated April 29, 2024


When talking about product development and network management, understanding technical terminology and learning best practices is key. Let’s explore Product Data Management (PDM), domains, and domain controllers, along with why installing SOLIDWORKS PDM on a domain controller is not recommended. We’ll also discuss what alternative approaches can be adopted. First, let’s review some common terminology discussed in this topic.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Domain Controller

SOLIDWORKS PDM Domain Controller


SOLIDWORKS PDM (Product Data Management) is a software solution meant to streamline the organization and management of product data. This includes CAD files, documents, and associated metadata, efficiently navigated throughout the product development lifecycle.

Key PDM Features

  • File Management: With versioning, revision management, and secure access control, PDM empowers users to seamlessly check files in and out, mitigating conflicts and ensuring data integrity.
  • Collaboration: By utilizing a centralized directory for storing and sharing design files, SOLIDWORKS PDM facilitates easy access to the latest file versions, thereby minimizing errors and redundancy in efforts.
  • Workflow Automation: With customizable workflow automation capabilities for document approval, review, and release processes, organizations can align workflows with their existing processes seamlessly.
  • Security: Leveraging user authentication, access permissions, and encryption mechanisms, PDM safeguards sensitive design data against unauthorized access or modification.

Understanding Domains

A domain serves as an interconnected network of computers and devices administered as a unified entity, commonly deployed within organizations to effectively manage and regulate access to critical resources like files, printers, and applications.

Domain Name Structure

A domain is distinguished by a hierarchical domain name, covering a group of devices under shared control.

This hierarchical structure typically involves a top-level domain (TLD) like .com or .org, followed by subdomains and hostnames.

Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy

Active Directory, a Microsoft-provided directory service for Windows domain networks, plays a pivotal role in centrally managing and organizing network resources such as users, computers, and groups.

Group Policy, a hallmark feature of Windows operating systems, enables administrators to centrally configure computer and user settings across the domain, governing security policies and more.

Understanding Domain Controllers

A domain controller, acting as a pivotal server, assumes responsibility for managing security authentication and authorizations within the domain. It houses a database containing user accounts, passwords, and group memberships, facilitating user authentication during network logins.


With all that review out of the way, let’s now dig into why it’s not recommended to install PDM on a domain controller.

Security Risks

Domain controllers represent prime targets for potential attackers, and installing PDM on them could expose critical IP stored within the vault, potentially leading to network-wide security breaches. Moreover, installing additional software on domain controllers elevates the risk of potential vulnerabilities.

Performance Impact

The installation of SOLIDWOKRS PDM may strain system resources like CPU and memory, potentially hampering the performance of essential domain services.

Complexity and Maintenance

Integrating PDM with domain controllers can complicate system maintenance and upgrades, necessitating careful coordination to ensure compatibility and minimize downtime. Another item to note is that converting away from a pre-existing domain controller configuration is not straightforward and may pose significant challenges.

Licensing and Support

Obtaining support or troubleshooting issues related to a SOLIDWORKS PDM domain controller may prove challenging. Support may be reluctant to modify registry files or reboot servers during operational hours, potentially disrupting critical services.

Meilleures pratiques

Deploy SOLIDWORKS PDM on a dedicated server separate from the domain controller. This isolates PDM operations, reducing the impact on critical domain services and mitigating security risks. By deploying PDM on a dedicated server, you can scale the system more effectively to accommodate growing storage and performance requirements, ensuring optimal performance and reliability for your engineering workflows.

Alternatively, consider deploying PDM in a virtualized environment. Using virtual machines provides flexibility and scalability while maintaining isolation from domain controller functions. Something to note is that you would still need a separate VM instance for your PDM server and your Domain Controller server.

Here are some examples of typical PDM deployment scenarios straight from Dassault Systems themselves:

  • Medium Office Network
    • 1 server running SQL for PDM hosts the archive, database, and SolidNetWork License servers
  • Large Office Network
    • 1 server running SQL for PDM hosts the file vault & database server
    • 1 server hosts the archive server
    • 1 server hosts the SNL server
  • WAN Connected Office
    • 1 server running SQL for PDM hosts the database
    • 1 server hosts the archive server
    • 1 Server hosts the SNL server
    • Each WAN office has a server hosting a local archive server with a replicated vault archive

Other Ways To Protect Your Data

To round things off, here are some other ways to protect your data:

  • Regularly review and update security measures. This includes implementing strong authentication methods, restricting access to sensitive data, and keeping software patches and antivirus definitions up to date.
  • Regularly update and patch both the PDM software and your underlying operating system. This can help address known vulnerabilities and minimize the risk of exploitation.
  • Invest in employee training and awareness programs to educate users about security best practices. Help minimize the risk of human error. Even here at TriMech, we go through security training and have active campaigns to raise awareness to ongoing threats.
  • Enforce strong authentication measures such as multi-factor authentication.
  • Follow vendor recommendations and industry best practices for ensuring compatibility with existing IT infrastructure and security standards.


With all that being said, while it’s technically feasible, installing a SOLIDWORKS PDM domain controller is layered with risks that could compromise both security and performance. Organizations are urged to adhere to best practices and explore alternative deployment strategies to ensure seamless operations while safeguarding critical data and network integrity. Should you still decide to install PDM on your domain controller, ensuring you have a thorough understanding of all associated risks is imperative.

Joe Perera