PLATFORMS: The Aperio 2.0 runs on an HP UNIX server supporting Netscape or Internet Explorer browsers running on Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Windows NT client PCs. No plug-ins are required.
BACKGROUND: AlliedSignal is a global manufacturing company that manufactures automotive, aerospace and engineered products. The Turbocharging Systems Group is the largest manufacturer of turbochargers for cars and trucks in the world.
PROBLEM SOLVED: AlliedSignal needed to improve their global inventory-management efficiency. They required a simple, flexible and scalable analysis and information sharing front end that would support global plant managers and business analysts analyzing inventory at a dozen different worldwide manufacturing plants. Inventory snapshots extracted from legacy systems at remote plants were consolidated, cleansed and loaded into a data warehouse running an Oracle RDBMS. The global deployment of the analytical capabilities required a Web-based, thin-client architecture and powerful yet simple-to-use OLAP functionality.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Aperio enables AlliedSignal's plant managers and business analysts to analyze their global inventory information using OLAP drill-down and slice-and-dice techniques, with a simple user interface within a Web browser. Users could create and drill into graphs, rank and sort the output, rotate tables and easily export data into Excel. Transparent aggregate table navigation and intelligent caching on the Aperio Server allow interactive response time and scalability despite the large size of the data warehouse. Besides OLAP functionality, Aperio integrates their Knowledge Gallery which provides Web access to thousands of reports and other documents that can be in any format (Word, Excel, HTML, Business Objects, Crystal Reports, etc.). An integrated search engine gives users the ability to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
STRENGTHS: Aperio allows users to dive into their data without training and it allows the IS department to deploy a global solution with minimal overhead. All the required functionality is available within a simple user interface that was designed and architected for the Web. Aperio's meta data can be stored in any relational database. Because this meta data is not stored on the client, users can access the system from anywhere at anytime and their entire configuration is available to them. Further, the three-tier architecture has the flexibility, power and scalability to be an enterprise-wide solution. No HTML or Java programming was required.
WEAKNESSES: The performance of the initial installation of the product suffered because the server had only 64MB of memory. The Aperio Java-based server needed 128MB to run well and support the number of users required.
SELECTION CRITERIA: AlliedSignal wanted a product that had the architecture, functionality, ease of use and ease of deployment that would allow the product to be used enterprise wide. Because AlliedSignal uses a variety of different server platforms running IRIX, Solaris, HP-UX and NT, they wanted a product that could support any system and could be administered globally from the Web, with no client software required. This allows administrators around the world to add or change the security of users through the Web-based administrator.
DELIVERABLES: Plant managers and business analysts have been using Aperio in tandem with Excel to reduce and manage inventory worldwide more efficiently. The Knowledge Gallery and report-sharing capability of Aperio allows users to communicate their findings over the Web in an extremely powerful manner, extending AlliedSignal's intranet, groupware and information sharing capabilities.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Influence was very cooperative and responsive. AlliedSignal was able to install Aperio, create the first OLAP subject and publish the URL to end users within 90 minutes of loading the CD.
DOCUMENTATION: The manual and Web-based documentation are very useful.
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