CATEGORY: Data Integration

REVIEWER: Larry Holm, system analyst for Bullmoose Operating Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Bullmoose Operating Corporation manages the Bullmoose mine, owned in part by Teck Cominco Limited, a Canadian-based integrated natural resource group. Located 700 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, the Bullmoose mine is an open-pit metallurgical coal mine near the town of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. In 2001, the Bullmoose operation produced 1.89 million metric tons of clean coal.

PLATFORMS: The Bullmoose mine's computing environment consists of an NT server running Microsoft SQL Server and an IBM iSeries (AS/400) that both run a series of purchasing, inventory and other business applications.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The need for a proven data integration solution first became apparent when our Web-based intranet site needed to be populated with the latest corporate and customer data. Our original method for uploading data was time-consuming as it required staff to manually process batch jobs on the AS/400. Additionally, the large number of records being placed on the AS/400 used an abundant amount of disk space, resulting in poor system performance. We implemented DataMirror Transformation Server initially to integrate data in real time from our AS/400 into Microsoft SQL Server in order to continuously update our intranet site as well as lessen the load that was being placed on the iSeries. Our need for a data integration solution was further heightened after we implemented J.D. Edwards WorldSoftware and OneWorld XE applications into our IT environment. In November 2001, we upgraded our DataMirror software implementation in order to mirror data in real time from our World application running on the AS/400 to our SQL Server-based OneWorld tables.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Transformation Server effectively helps create packages and mapping to J.D. Edwards tables, streamlining business processes and enhancing productivity. Transformation Server's innovation lies in its ability to allow World and OneWorld applications to coexist while ensuring data remains current and synchronized. The seamless coexistence between World and OneWorld helps us create competitive advantages and empowers us to utilize J.D. Edwards data for a wide range of business applications.

STRENGTHS: Over time, we realized that our need for a data integration solution was far greater than we had originally expected. The task of uploading data from World into OneWorld XE was a challenging one as each J.D. Edwards table had to be closely examined, mapped and indexed. We also needed to ensure that specific packages were created for each table. However, we managed to accomplish this extensive project quite effortlessly with the help of Transformation Server. Transformation Server's strengths lie in its real-time data integration capabilities, its ability to support multiplatform environments and different applications, and the solution's performance and low operating overhead costs.

WEAKNESSES: Initially, I had some problems with the earlier versions of Transformation Server as I found that the data replication process would sometimes stop, and the index on the mapped table would be dropped resulting in a missing index on the table. However, this problem has since been corrected.

SELECTION CRITERIA: At first, we contemplated buying another AS/400 to store data, but we knew that this choice would be very costly. We looked into other alternatives, but none of the options seemed to hold much ground. After evaluating Transformation Server's performance and scalability, we selected the DataMirror solution primarily because of its real-time integration capabilities as well as other key features.

DELIVERABLES: DataMirror Transformation Server integrates anywhere from a few thousand to a million records each day. Moreover, the solution directly benefits more than 350 employees located both on site at the Bullmoose mine and at our head office, providing access to real-time flows of information. We require access to the most current data in order to make strategic business decisions and work more productively. Transformation Server allows us to meet these ends. We are very pleased with the performance, efficiency and ease of use of the DataMirror solution and have achieved a far greater return on investment than expected.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We are very pleased with DataMirror's sales and customer support teams. The staff is very knowledgeable, understands our specific needs and is always available when we need help.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for Transformation Server was easy to follow. In fact, it was so effective that our implementation team did not require any additional knowledge to implement the solution, and they were also able to quickly learn how to use the solution.

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