A host system generates and manages databases incorporating data gathered from a plurality of client automation systems, such as CNC machine tools. The data may include real-time data, and is captured from the client systems under supervision of software downloaded over a network from the host system to the client systems. The captured data is transmitted over the network to the host, which creates the databases. The databases preferably include a commercial database comprising data associated with customer owners or operators of the client automation system, as well as a technical database, comprising captured data, administrative and other data, organized by customer and client system. Captured data is preferably associated with the date of capture, providing for the creation of a historical database for given client equipment. With customer authorization, others, such as original equipment manufacturers, may access the captured data, for which they may be charged a fee.