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Charles Schwab Plans for Continued Prosperity with Seagate Holos

By
  • John Michael, Sergey Muza
Published
  • October 01 1998, 1:00am EDT
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PLATFORMS: Charles Schwab stores 100 gigabytes of relational sales data on an Oracle7.3 database running on a mainframe system. A Seagate Holos application runs on a Sun Enterprise 5000 server, extracts Oracle relational data from a data warehouse, converts it to multidimensional OLAP cubes and then loads Seagate Holos clients with the data.

BACKGROUND: Headquartered in San Francisco, California, and employing over 12,000 people, Charles Schwab is one of the world's largest discount brokerage firms. It is also the largest provider of services to investment managers. Schwab Institutional, a technology-driven division of Charles Schwab, employs over 1,000 people and manages nearly a third of the entire firm's assets, worth $106 billion. Its clients include over 7,000 investment managers who represent 547,000 investor accounts also housed at Charles Schwab.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The rapid advancement of on-line and client/server technology has had a major impact on the services available to Charles Schwab customers; but the MIS department's ability to competitively manage the division was being compromised. New management was brought in to address this disparity and to eliminate the 50 or more outstanding requests for ad hoc reports sitting in a queue each business day. A Seagate Holos system now integrates departmental data across the organization--from marketing, sales, finance and operations--to provide a state-of-the-art tool for pricing investment products. The system can adapt to specific departmental needs and provides users with a range of functionality, such as modeling and forecasting, executive information system style reporting and budgeting.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Seagate Holos system extracts relational data from a data warehouse, converts it to multidimensional OLAP cubes and then loads Seagate Holos clients with the data for analysis. A customized interface is provided for each of four department-specific applications: marketing, sales, finance and operations. Drill-through and compound structures are employed extensively throughout the system. Each individual structure stores at least one gigabyte of data with a limit of two gigabytes. The compound structures use both ROLAP and non-ROLAP measures. Data is loaded into the system every month; eventually data will be loaded weekly and daily. With the Oracle database containing 35 tables and two million rows, the time required to load the system is approximately eight hours.

STRENGTHS: The capabilities of Seagate Holos for building reporting and modeling applications, linking relational data and loading data are exceptional. A powerful OLAP server is only one component of Seagate Holos; it includes its own development language that can be used to build and customize complex enterprise business intelligence systems. Its ability to link disparate OLAP data sources, run on cross-platform systems and create compound OLAP structures make it an appealing choice for deploying enterprise-wide information management applications.

WEAKNESSES: The requirements for learning how to use Seagate Holos are steep and may require outside consulting help. However, the functionality available in the product makes the learning effort worthwhile.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Seagate Holos was selected because it can report from both relational and multidimensional data and it includes a powerful application development language. It runs well on a variety of hardware platforms, including Sun Solaris, and it is extremely flexible in interacting with UNIX, Oracle and PC applications.

DELIVERABLES: Approximately 50 users at Charles Schwab can access over 8,000 large household accounts through the Seagate Holos system; 200 users will have access to these accounts once deployment is complete. Up to 45 different measures relate information on all customer activity. Account managers can compare pricing relationships and forecast five years in advance. As commission tables and holdings mixes change, the pricing possibilities are limitless.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Service and access to top support staff at Seagate Software have been exceptional.

DOCUMENTATION: Seagate Holos comes with comprehensive documentation on all aspects of the product. All the background information required to learn the product's functionality is included.

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