REVIEWER: James D. Brousseau, enterprise data architect at SonoSite Inc.

BACKGROUND: SonoSite, Inc. is a specialist in hand-carried and mounted ultrasound. Through ASIC design, SonoSite offers imaging performance found in ultrasound machines weighing more than 300 pounds in a system the size and weight of a laptop computer. SonoSite’s continued success is tied to our ability to understand and anticipate the changing needs of our physician customers. To monitor these changes and respond effectively, we recognized the need to optimize the collection, reconciliation and analysis of data throughout our business.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows XP, RedHat Enterprise Linux version 5.3, Oracle Database 11g.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The goal of our work with DataFlux was to transform the value, usefulness, accessibility and security of our information so that we have accurate and timely information across department boundaries and points of interaction, including customers. SonoSite maintains customer, prospect and product information in multiple source systems: Oracle E-Business Suite for back office processes, for customer relationship management, and various prospect lists obtained from trade shows and marketing campaigns. There was considerable duplication and inconsistencies among the source data. DataFlux allowed us to quickly and effectively cleanse, standardize, merge and dedupe our customer data into a single “golden” copy of customer master data used to support our sales and marketing campaigns. In addition, DataFlux profiling tools aided our efforts to standardize our product categorization across our lines of business. In late 2009, DataFlux allowed us to effectively integrate all of the data from a recent acquisition into our back-office systems in less time than it would have previously taken. Data was extracted and transformed from the legacy system directly in real time using business rules coded into dfPower Studio Architect jobs and loaded into our Oracle EBS application with minimal effort and errors.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataFlux profiler allows SonoSite to quickly analyze data sets for exceptions prior to integration. Knowing the data we work with prior to integration allows us to address most exceptions prior to loading. The dfPower Studio Architect and Integration Server provide advanced functionality found in expensive extract, transform and load tools, plus they allow us to customize and automate data conforming rules to meet our quality expectations. The flexibility of the Customizer allows us to create grammar and vocabulary rules specific for our line of business. The Verify tool has helped us achieve an accuracy rate of more than 95 percent for our U.S. customer and contact addresses. The standardization, matching and merging functionality allows us to quickly dedupe customer and contact information received from multiple sources and reduce our data acquisition costs for purchasing third-party prospect lists.

STRENGTHS: The reliability of the product is rock solid. Our processes run “lights-out” with little or no down time experienced or required. The toolsets have considerable flexibility and allow us to handle most data integration problems. I am amazed on the extensiveness of the data dictionary and how well it does with name and address matching. Each release offers new functionality that improves the value of the product. I find the product extremely easy to use.

WEAKNESSES: Some of the tools are inconsistent in presentation. Property screens vary among the various tools; however, release 8.2 has better consistency. The expression editor in the Architect tool could benefit from better text editing capabilities, highlighting keywords in color, search and replace functionality, and in-line syntax checking. Complex expressions are sometimes difficult to debug due to the limited size of the input area. Processing large volumes of data can be slow, although application design can improve performance. Lack of ODBC drivers on Linux prevent some jobs from being run via the Integration server for data sources other than Oracle and SQL Server.

SELECTION CRITERIA: DataFlux proved to satisfy all of our major requirements using an in-house proof-of-concept demonstration with a sample of our customer data. DataFlux was able to provide a solution at a reasonable cost that could be implemented in a timely manner. DataFlux not only claimed to be able to solve our data problem but was able to show us that it could be done with actual results.

DELIVERABLES: DataFlux provides us with a conformed set of customer and prospect data that can be easily extracted into targeted marketing campaigns. DataFlux saved us considerable expense in resources and errors when integrating legacy data from a company acquisition. We use the profiling tool to help us standardize marketing segmentation and to aid in our data governance initiatives.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We haven’t needed much technical support over the last year, but when a support issue was logged, DataFlux responded in a timely manner. Their staff has always been friendly, supportive and helpful during the entire implementation process from sales to delivery. Updates are posted frequently, and the vendor occasionally reaches out to see how their product has been performing. I feel that the vendor has a vested interest in my success.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is adequate to install and operate the product, but there is always room for improvement in the technical information. For example, the Expression Reference Manual could contain better examples on using the expressions and functions available in the product. The documentation is available in electronic form and is easily accessible.

DataFlux dfPower Studio
DataFlux Corporation
940 NW Cary Parkway, Suite 201
Cary, NC 27513

(919) 447-3000

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