REVIEWER: Dale Danilewitz, CIO for AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group (ABSG).
BACKGROUND: ABSG is one of the largest specialty pharmaceutical services providers in the U.S. ABSG distributes oncology medications, biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, other drugs and injectables to primary care physicians, hospitals and infusion centers. The company also delivers and manages pharmaceutical therapies for patients with conditions ranging from cancer and hepatitis to hemophilia and multiple sclerosis. Further, ABSG works with manufacturers to improve all phases of the product lifecycle, from market analysis and commercialization to medical affairs and contract administration.
PLATFORMS: IBM iSeries, HP/Compaq servers.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Several years ago, ABSG implemented our own SSA (Baan) enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. With all orders being processed through the ERP system, our IT team looked for a data integration solution that could extract and consolidate information from multiple mission-critical business applications and load the data into a data warehouse in real time to enable efficient inventory management, pricing, and sales reporting and analysis.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataMirror's Trans-formation Server solved our many data distribution and application integration challenges. First, it keeps our e-commerce site up to date so customers can determine pricing, place orders and track shipments 24x7. With accurate and reliable data flowing across the enterprise, customers can track their orders and feel confident that the required medications will arrive on schedule. Second, Transformation Server distributes data in real time from our IBM iSeries-based ERP system to a Microsoft SQL Server-based reporting environment consisting of an operational data store (ODS) and a data warehouse. The ODS allows our sales managers to run dashboards so they can monitor sales, while the data warehouse has become a single centralized repository of orders, products, inventory levels, accounting activity and customer accounts. Third, Transformation Server ensures that our mission-critical ERP applications are running at peak performance. Finally, we are now doing real-time reporting and analysis. Once an order has been completed, Transformation Server sends the data to the ODS where sales managers can run dashboards to monitor sales and conduct reporting. This allows them to follow the order trail, develop new cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, examine sales across regions and channels, and solve problems.
STRENGTHS: Transformation Server's low impact has proven beneficial. Our employees are accessing mission-critical business applications throughout the day, and therefore, any transactional changes to the database need to be replicated in real time without slowing down the business systems or negatively impacting the response time of users processing incoming orders. Transformation Server's unique change data capture (CDC) technology accesses changed data directly from database logs rather than by performing queries against the database, ensuring that even the most demanding mission-critical applications running on the source system are not adversely affected. Data is processed throughout the day - as the changes occur - rather than during nightly batch jobs.
WEAKNESSES: Transformation Server provides in-flight transformations out of the box but lacks support for the more complex transformations that require the staging server provided with traditional ETL tools.
SELECTION CRITERIA: DataMirror's Transfor-mation Server is a proven data integration leader and works well in an IBM iSeries environment, so it made sense to try it out. We have been very pleased with the results.
DELIVERABLES: Because we are entrepreneurial in nature, our general managers need to make quick decisions on price changes and inventory purchases. Transformation Server gives them continuous access to information so they can see what types of promotions they should run. They can look at the dashboards and determine the percentage of product coming through the different channels.
VENDOR SUPPORT: DataMirror's Professional Services team is knowledgeable, responsive and professional. Whenever we have an issue or question, they are able to resolve it quickly.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand.
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