PLATFORMS: The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) stores financial and operational data on a data warehouse comprised of an NCR Worldmark 5100, a parallel processing machine using a one-terabyte Teradata RDBMS and an IBM RS/6000 running on an AIX platform. Most desktop platforms are PCs running OS/2. During 1998 and 1999, BNSF will gradually migrate its PCs to the NT operating system.
BACKGROUND: BNSF was formed after the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad companies merged in September, 1995. Today, the BNSF is one of the largest railroad concerns in the United States. The Santa Fe railroad originally deployed GQL in 1994.
PROBLEM SOLVED: When the two railroad companies merged, each brought legacy data warehouses that were gathering and storing information from multiple transaction systems. The challenge was to give the two systems the look and feel of a single system and provide approximately 2,000 end users in various departments with the ability to access and analyze the system's data quickly and easily.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: GQL allows users at BNSF to access historical data and provide both middle and upper management with charts and reports for both short- and long-term decision making. GQL also helps customer support personnel provide external customers with just-in-time information about train cars, intermodal train movement data, waybill information and other areas. GQL also gives analysts in departments such as finance and human resources an easy-to-use database program to develop queries, reports and answer pressing business questions about revenues, staffing and so on. GQL has allowed BNSF to free up mainframe resources and enabled the company's IS staff to work on development issues instead of providing reports to users.
STRENGTHS: GQL's ease of use. Most BNSF users have been able to learn the application after only one day of training, and some 1,500 users have been trained internally on the product. Another strength of GQL is its integration with both of BNSF's major back-end databases.
WEAKNESSES: BNSF is using GQL 3.3, whose charting and drill-down capabilities are not as strong as they are in later versions of the product.
PRODUCT DELIVERABLES: GQL allows our managers to analyze the performance of the railroad's on-time delivery to customers and spot problem areas. Managers can use GQL to identify and solve human resource issues such as crew composition and deployment, work schedules and planning for hiring and retirements. Financial managers use GQL to generate daily reports on current revenue and other profitability information.
SELECTION CRITERIA: GQL is closely integrated with both Teradata and DB2, the twin backbones of BNSF's data warehouse. As well, most BNSF users are equipped with 486 or Pentium machines running on OS/2 platforms; GQL's compatibility with OS/2 was one of the reasons Santa Fe originally chose the application. Users will continue using GQL (a newer version) when BNSF migrates its PCs to the Windows NT platform.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support from Hummingbird is excellent. Timely and accurate assistance is available via an 800 telephone number or e-mail. Hummingbird's technical personnel are very knowledgeable and have helped to resolve connection problems and matters regarding complex SQL and query generation.
DOCUMENTATION: The reference manuals for GQL are very good.
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