REVIEWER: Mark Morgan, senior IT manager for Qualcomm.

BACKGROUND: Qualcomm Incorporated is leading the charge in the digital revolution as a developer and innovator of advanced wireless technologies, products and services. A provider of next-generation mobile technologies, Qualcomm’s ideas and inventions are driving wireless growth and helping to connect people to information, entertainment and one another.

PLATFORM: Linux.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Qualcomm’s project managers needed easy access to personnel information related to engineering, technical and managerial resources. A “People” application was conceived to provide in one central location all information covering engineering, technical and managerial resources. Using this application, managers were supposed to have a person’s physical location, status, reporting structure and other basic information instantly obtainable. Even with the application, however, visibility into current, as well as historical, personnel and project information was difficult to achieve because the software tools were not consistent. This inconsistency was due to a lack of standards for running and managing current, ongoing and completed projects. We contemplated adding this information directly into the People application, but the complexity of hand coding the integration to every possible data source was time and cost prohibitive. Also, the countless number of potential sources made this approach unattainable. The central IT group simply did not have the resources.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Qualcomm selected the Composite Information Server 5.0 for its data federation and query optimization capabilities, intending it to serve as a data warehouse extension. By deploying it between Qualcomm’s People application and all data sources, the IT group created a virtualized repository of personnel and project data. New capabilities and benefits by People application users were achieved, including: 1) A “Project Stores” tab in the People application that includes current and completed projects, as well as skill information about employees. 2) Aggregated information without a warehouse. By eliminating the need for building and maintaining a data warehouse, information can be combined in minutes rather than hours. Project management and administration no longer have to cut and paste information to make organizational charts. 3) Elimination of manual steps. People sources can now be published as services to be consumed without going through numerous conversion steps. 4) More data available. More data enriches the decision-making and analytical capabilities of Qualcomm innovators and managers. 5) Faster integration of incremental People data sources. 6) Shared information. Data stores, new product initiatives, or skills available or needed can be shared, allowing collaboration and ultimately reducing time to market.
STRENGTHS: There are three primary strengths. With the data warehouse extension, Qualcomm’s IT group is able to combine in a virtual data layer information from multiple mixed sources, including LDAP, relational databases and data warehouses. Automation increases productivity due to the elimination of manual steps in favor of published services that can be consumed easily by data consumers. Qualcomm aggregates information in the data virtualization layer in minutes, without building and maintaining new data warehouses.

WEAKNESSES: There were two key challenge areas, both of which were overcome or worked around for the purposes of Qualcomm’s projects. The first challenge was security federation. Being able to federate security solutions, enable pass-through authentication and enabling end-to-end security throughout the entire stack is a challenge for any architecture without resorting to service accounts or additional points of policy management. While Composite Software is hard at work on these problems as they pertain to data virtualization, early adopters with existing advanced security architectures might find this challenging. The second key area we found challenging was in-memory performance. Composite does a great job with performance in most scenarios, and its caching technology works well to mask potential slowness of underlying systems. But for real-time apps, milliseconds count for performance. To compensate, various in-memory tricks may be necessary to improve performance. While the Composite architecture allows for leveraging other products for tuning, it would be simpler if there was a solution out-of-the-box.

DELIVERABLES: We experienced 10 times faster data integration development cycle, a 90 percent reduction in integration development costs, increased productivity in administration and project management and increased ease of adding new data sources to Qualcomm’s virtual repository of critical engineering and technical skills known as People. What used to take weeks, now only takes a few hours!

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been great throughout the entire process. Every person we’ve worked with, from sales to product management to PS consultants, has been knowledgeable and able to help us overcome any challenges and achieve our goals. The best part has been the vendor’s willingness to listen to customer feedback and directly incorporate that feedback as part of the development process.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is thorough, and excellent training courses help get developers started. The product leverages existing SQL skill sets, so developers feel at home and are able to ramp up quickly.