SunGard Octane8REVIEWER: Michael H. Carr, VP and CIO for National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Formed in 1969, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) is a member-owned financial institution that provides state-of-the-art financial products to its approximately 1,050 electric cooperative members in 49 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. CFC has total loans and guarantees outstanding exceeding $21 billion, and its owners have invested approximately $3 billion in CFC securities.

PLATFORMS: Windows 2003/Microsoft SQL environment.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We're a document heavy organization and needed to organize and streamline the way documents were stored and retrieved by our employees. We needed to Web-enable certain business processes to ensure all employees had instant access to the information they needed to perform their jobs. Our key initiative was to centralize the management of our information repositories, while decentralizing control to different departments and employees throughout the company.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Octane8 framework from SunGard Workflow Solutions is a suite of Web-based applications allowing us to leverage the power of the Internet to improve the way we store and share documents and other information across the organization. Using Octane8, we developed an online document repository providing instant access to vital documents to all employees. We have been able to decentralize the control of this repository to different departments within the company. Octane8 allows us to develop and deploy various Web properties to Web-enable our core business processes and to communicate with various audiences through the Web. We have set up a corporate intranet with advanced searching and document retrieval capabilities and are able to give full control of our intranet to our HR department so they can ensure the site is updated, relevant and accurate without relying on IT resources. We also set up a portal to streamline communication with our board of directors that ensures all board-related documents are easily accessible to remote directors and always current and accurate. Octane8 has enabled us to quickly and cost-effectively develop and manage highly dynamic and sophisticated Web properties. It has dramatically reduced the time required to build and deploy complex sites, provides exceptional scalability, reliability and performance.

STRENGTHS: Octane8 makes it easy to develop and deploy advanced Web properties. The core development engine was built to support Web standards and standards-based protocols such as XML, XHTML and CSS. This allowed us to develop and deploy our entire initiative in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost that we had originally anticipated. It also allows our IT staff to seamlessly tap into existing Web services to extend the Octane8 framework to meet our continuing business objectives. The intuitive user interface allows our non-technical users throughout the company to quickly add pages to our sites and update navigation, content, meta data and security without requiring any technical skills.

WEAKNESSES: The Octane8 framework's core application is built using native C# on top of Microsoft's .NET server platform. While this ensures fairly robust scalability and performance, it requires that we host the application in a Microsoft environment and run on IIS.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Octane8 was by far the most functional and affordable solution. Other products, even those with fewer features, would have required a much longer deployment timeline, been too technical for our business users and would have cost us considerably more.

DELIVERABLES: Octane8 has produced robust, scalable and highly dynamic Web portals that allow us to consolidate data and content and then distribute that data or content throughout our organization and to remote users via the Internet.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The support we received in the implementation and ongoing maintenance has been excellent. I was most pleased with SunGard's willingness to ensure that the product met all of our requirements - as well as the time it took for them to get it implemented. They are extremely responsive to our needs.

DOCUMENTATION: The user documentation is adequate for our nontechnical users to quickly learn the nuances of the system.

SunGard Workflow Solutions
104 Inverness Center Place
Suite 350
Birmingham, AL 35242

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