REVIEWER: John Forelli, director of administrative systems for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
BACKGROUND: Borgata is a joint venture of Boyd Gaming Corporation and MGM MIRAGE. Located in Atlantic City, it features 2,002 guest rooms and suites, 125,000 square feet of gaming, 163 gaming tables, 3,600 slot machines, 11 destination restaurants, 11 retail boutiques, a 50,000 square foot spa, 70,000 square feet of event space and parking for 7,100 cars.
PLATFORMS: Borgata uses IBM xSeries 440 and 330 for our Microsoft applications.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Borgata is a brand new casino, and we had to meet very specific system requirements in a short amount of time. We hired 5,000 people almost overnight, and we needed a scalable solution to handle our many disparate human resource, financial and operations databases. We also anticipated extensive publicity with the opening, which would require the ability to support many concurrent users on our Web site.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Before we implemented SQL Server 2000, we had many different silos of information, so being able to put it into a structured data mart using DTS was a huge benefit for us. We can transfer up-to-date data into the warehouse with little to no latency and are able to report on it immediately. We couldn't do this before, and SQL Server competitors weren't able to do it to this degree. With this capability, one of our greatest strategic benefits is the ability to target our promotions and business forecasting more efficiently. SQL Server was also able to complete our project twice as fast and approximately 40 percent less expensively than we estimated its competitors would have been able to do. SQL Server saved us money in the initial purchase costs, and it requires fewer DBAs to maintain the system. We have also been able to reduce ongoing expenses by the reporting capabilities, which enabled us to better monitor labor and overtime. SQL Server delivered on its commitment to have our systems fully prepared for the opening of Borgata, which meant massive amounts of inquiries, concurrent users, employee hiring and data input to many of our systems. SQL Server has handled the performance and scalability requirements seamlessly. We have been pleased with the reliability of the software, and in eight months since opening, we have not experienced any downtime.
STRENGTHS: With SQL Server 2000, Microsoft delivered a comprehensive package to address our many complex business needs. Borgata has grown quickly in the last eight months, and SQL Server has met this demand with tremendous scalability, performance and consistent reliability. Specifically, we have been impressed with the stored procedures and triggers that allow customized search options for our Web site users. The low cost of ownership was an added bonus.
WEAKNESSES: Although not a fault of our current SQL Server 2000 system, we look forward to SQL Server 2005 improving from the beta 1 version with respect to the limitation of DTS to provide seamless integration across disparate platforms.
SELECTION CRITERIA: In selecting a database solution for Borgata, we evaluated Oracle, IBM and Microsoft on the basis of performance, scalability, manageability, integration with PeopleSoft and total cost of ownership. We found Oracle's system would cost approximately 40 percent more than SQL Server and would require three DBAs to manage it, while SQL Server only required one. IBM DB2 had scalability issues and did not perform well with PeopleSoft. In contrast, SQL Server was intuitive and easy to manage, scalable and it performed well with PeopleSoft. We also received great feedback from existing SQL Server customers, which made SQL Server the clear choice for our business.
DELIVERABLES: Borgata uses SQL Server for approximately eight applications in various departments, including finance, job applications, payroll, employee portal, time/attendance, wardrobe management and auto valet. We also combined several disparate systems into one data warehouse and can now deliver a daily flash report.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We had tremendous support from Microsoft at all levels during pre- and post-implementation. The best part of working with Microsoft has been the breadth and depth of resources they have been able to provide to us for support across all product lines including the server, desktop and enterprise software.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation Microsoft provided was complete and easy to understand, and we have already relied on this documentation since the implementation.
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