BACKGROUND: The University of South Florida (USF) was founded in 1956 to meet the needs of the Tampa Bay metropolitan area and the state of Florida. Already one of the 20 largest universities in the United States, USF has a solid reputation as a leader in education. Today the university serves approximately 34,000 students.

PLATFORMS: Computer Associates (CA) DecisionBase 1.9 (formerly PLATINUM technology DecisionBase) is compatible with Oracle, Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP R/3, Sybase, AS/400, DB2 for MVS and DB2 for OS/390, DB2 UDB and flat files. The solution runs on Windows NT operating systems and optional UNIX movement servers (HP-UX, Solaris). University of South Florida's environment includes Dell 450 servers with NT 4.0 and Service Pack 3.0. USF runs Oracle7.3.4 and shared SPARC Solaris ­ SUN E 5000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: USF is leveraging CA's DecisionBase to assist in the migration of 80 percent of its legacy business systems to human resource and payroll packaged applications from PeopleSoft and to student, alumni and financial aid packaged applications from SCT, a higher- education software company. As a longtime PLATINUM (now Computer Associates) Repository user, USF was familiar with the tools and services and chose CA's DecisionBase as a logical progression of the relationship for support of this massive conversion.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DecisionBase is a data transformation and movement tool that enables programmers to build data marts and warehouses quickly without compromising ease of use, complex transformations or robust meta data management. DecisionBase seamlessly extracts and integrates data from a variety of relational and non-relational sources ­ including ERP systems. DecisionBase's graphical mapper lets users perform complex transformation and movement tasks easily with drag-and-drop operations. Hundreds of transformations are provided, and those created with the mapper are reusable from one environment to another.

STRENGTHS: USF considers DecisonBase's automatic script generation to be one of its greatest benefits. USF's IT team leverages the predefined language scripts to map and generate transformations without having to invest in the task of using PeopleSoft's proprietary coding language. Additionally, the team schedules scripts to run at any time, ensuring system and human resources are effectively allocated and that end users have access to clean data when and how they need it. DecisionBase's broad capabilities ­ with more than 170 different functions ­ have also proven to be a tremendous strength. DecisionBase's Mapper is also easy to use. Its built-in functionality and features improve accuracy and increase programming productivity. Finally, DecisionBase improves change management by utilizing impact analysis.

WEAKNESSES: The normalizer within DecisionBase automatically updates USF's repository. If programmers change their minds about the selections they have made and want to revert to other selections, they need to manually delete the previous update to the repository.

SELECTION CRITERIA: USF selected DecisionBase largely for its ability to integrate with the CA Repository, a critical tool in USF's meta data management strategy. Additionally, DecisionBase offered impressive ease of use, speed of data movement, documentation of data transformation and integration with Web Shopper, which aids in communicating data transformations to users.

DELIVERABLES: DecisionBase provides statistics on which tables were updated, how many rows were updated and when updates took place. The solution also delivers full error messages and execution logs. This ensures the IT team can consistently track and report on all changes made, assuring end users have a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of their data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CA provides outstanding pre- and post-implementation support. CA and USF have established a true partnership. An initial two-week consulting package gave USF an excellent education on DecisionBase's powerful features, and the help desk staff has proven very supportive and patient on subsequent needs.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation for DecisionBase 1.9 has shown significant improvement to become a very comprehensive and professional resource. The script manager documentation clearly covers the specifics for all the interfaces to other DBMSs. The tutorial has always been extremely insightful.

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