BACKGROUND: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, (UMBC) is a medium-sized, selective, public research university which attracts high- achieving students to its undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts, sciences and engineering. UMBC's 10,000 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students come from 42 states and 71 foreign countries. There are over 35,000 UMBC alumni worldwide. A campus community rich in cultural and ethnic diversity, UMBC promotes cutting-edge research and creative activity.
PLATFORMS: Two HP3000/967s running MPE 5.5 and IBM RS/6000 running AIX 4.3.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Administrative needs have steadily increased, while student use has skyrocketed due to the advent of UMBC's Web registration and student services which permit hundreds of concurrent users and thousands of transactions a day from students, faculty and staff. The Web activity was primarily concentrated on the HP3000 that connected to a Sun Web server. The HP3000 acted as a data server, fulfilling read and update requests from the Web applications. Tool sets for end-user access to TurboImage are limited in number and functionality, so an alternative was needed. We needed to find a ETL tool that was fast, would not impact the HP3000 as extracts were performed, provided true real-time access, could transform the data relationships from TurboImage to Oracle and could place the data into an Oracle database. Our solution was BridgeWare.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: BridgeWare, a joint product offering from Quest Software and Taurus Software, enabled us to initially load our Oracle RDBMS, provide real- time delta refreshes to our data, transform the data to Oracle and place the data in our target RS/6000. We now use the Oracle database as the source for our Web registration applications the HP3000 data seamlessly provides updated information in Oracle. BridgeWare's SharePlex-Bridge module captures all the changed database transactions and writes the ones we would like to trap to a file. BridgeWare's Warehouse module scripts reads those files in real time, transforms the data and updates our Oracle database.
STRENGTHS: BridgeWare and NetBase NFA (Network File Access) run as advertised and use minimal system resources. A huge benefit was that we did not have to modify a single application during the implementation of the entire project. The whole process is now automated.
WEAKNESSES: BridgeWare's message files are subject to corruption in a system crash, just as any message file would be. NetBase NFA has a low-level user and application identification on each record which does not truly represent what application or user modified the database.
SELECTION CRITERIA: To alleviate the unacceptable performance degradation of the HP3000, several options were explored. Due to many different factors, load balancing between multiple HP3000 systems became our best, and most viable, solution. We purchased a second HP 3000/967 and organized the databases on each machine in such a way that all financial databases were on HP1 and all student databases were on HP2. The next step was to install Netbase NFA for clustering. This allowed both HP1 and HP2 to look and feel like a single system. This "clustered environment" allowed for load balancing of administrative, financial and student services computing needs. The configuration required no changes to our applications, and the performance is great! This enabled us to use the cluster as a catalyst to attack our primary issue easy access to campus student data.
DELIVERABLES: The implementation of these products resulted in two major accomplishments, the first of which is performance. The HP3000 and the Web applications have never performed better. Second, the Oracle database is easily accessible by campus users.
VENDOR SUPPORT: I cannot say enough about the support people at both Quest and Taurus. Every representative that I have dealt with has been extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with. Quest has a great staff of support engineers, and the support staff at Taurus is second to none.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for BridgeWare and NetBase NFA has been sufficient for our needs. They are good reference resources but could use a little beefing up on the general how-to issues.
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