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Auto Club of Southern California Solves DW Design and Data Quality Issues with Migration Architect

Published
  • July 01 1999, 1:00am EDT

BACKGROUND: The Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) is the largest affiliate of the Automobile Association of America. With revenues of $1.2 billion, ACSC serves more than 4.5 million members in Southern California, Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii.

PLATFORMS: ACSC's environment includes a DB2 mainframe data warehouse supporting two Oracle data marts on an HP9000. The Migration Architect server runs on an HP9000 running HP-UX 10.20. The clients run on Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: With the growing complexity of its legacy data and the requirement for high-quality data for decision making, ACSC needed a way to deliver better, more timely information to users. Since traditional means of accessing data and developing reports were inadequate, ACSC built a data warehouse infrastructure and succeeded in "getting IS out from between the users and their data." However, there were still problems in understanding the legacy data so that correct extract, transform and load (ETL) programs could be written and data quality could be assured. ACSC turned to Migration Architect from Evoke Software and credits it with solving their problems. The first time ACSC used Migration Architect, they completed the analysis of two systems in less than six weeks, resulting in reports that were virtually 100 percent accurate.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ACSC uses Migration Architect to thoroughly understand its source data prior to using Carleton's Passport to populate its data warehouse and data marts. Migration Architect enables ACSC to provide users with high quality data in a timely fashion.

STRENGTHS: Migration Architect's results are based on actual source data, not outdated and inaccurate documentation and meta data. As a result, projects are completed successfully the first time without the need to rewrite ETL programs. By supporting both automated discovery and interactive analysis by data and business analysts, Migration Architect makes ACSC's IT staff much more efficient and productive. As a result, with Migration Architect, ACSC was able to complete in six weeks what had proven impossible to accomplish in 10 months using traditional analysis methods and with much higher quality results. ACSC could depend on the data in the new data marts for making key business decisions. ACSC now considers Migration Architect the most powerful tool available for delivering high quality data to new systems in the shortest period of time.

WEAKNESSES: Migration Architect could do a better job of accessing and preparing VSAM files for analysis. Evoke recently released a new product, MA/Extract for VSAM, that solves this problem by supporting direct extraction and formatting of VSAM and sequential files from MVS systems.

SELECTION CRITERIA: ACSC did not succeed with its first data mart project. The team used an ETL tool to move the legacy data; but after spending a year trying to set up extraction rules, they found that the source data was too "dirty" to be implemented. The data mart was decommissioned. Their reasoning: if data in the warehouse is only 80 percent accurate, you can't make important business decisions based on it. ACSC solved its data warehouse design and data quality issues with Migration Architect. With it, they were able to analyze many data sources (customers, cashiering and point of service) and easily handle the varying uses of fields over the years. There is no other software product on the market today that we tested that automates the important process of data profiling and mapping.

DELIVERABLES: Migration Architect generates detailed reports about the information it has discovered from the source data. Data and business analysts review these reports to resolve identified issues. Once the data is fully understood, Migration Architect creates source-to-target transformation maps that guide the subsequent extract, transform and load process. Once loaded, the data marts produce both monthly and ad hoc reports for business intelligence and decision making.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Evoke worked in partnership with ACSC to deliver a successful implementation and provided product upgrades on a frequent basis. ACSC found Evoke's technical support extremely responsive to problems and questions, usually responding within the hour.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation includes a user guide and manual and Windows-based, context-sensitive help. Although the Windows interface is easily mastered, the profiling and mapping process requires a trained, experienced analyst to get full value from the tool. Evoke also provides on-site training, as well as expert consultants that can assist in getting projects underway quickly.

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