REVIEWER: Mike van Thiel, VP of product development and CTO at Vehix.com.
BACKGROUND: Vehix.com launched in 1996 as an online automotive portal designed to facilitate the research and purchase processes for consumers. Vehix.com provides objective third-party information along with best-in-class research tools. Vehix.com is a platform for both private and professional automotive sellers to showcase their vehicles to a broad national audience and has been designed to provide a one-stop automotive shopping experience. Vehix.com represents more than 1,500 dealers in more than 50 markets, hosting a real-time, online inventory of more than 350,000 new and used vehicles. It is one of the most trafficked automotive-resource Web sites on the Internet.PLATFORMS: Dell Server Class hardware running Microsoft Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Vehix.com aggregates automotive data from a variety of sources, which include daily feeds from more than 1,500 dealers nationwide as well as nightly feeds of automotive research data from sources such as Chrome, National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a variety of other providers. We also generate millions of transactions through our Web site that need to be consolidated into a dimensional data warehouse and be used internally and by our clients for business intelligence purposes. Although the process of consolidating disparate data sources into one standardized data set is extremely complex, it is critical that Vehix.com always displays up-to-date and accurate information. In order to achieve this, we were in need of a state-of-the-art data integration and ETL tool that could help us accomplish these goals quickly and efficiently.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Vehix.com utilizes almost every feature DataLever has to offer. We make heavy use of the pattern recognition tools to standardize the large variety of automotive data we receive. We use the record matching tools to ensure we have no duplicate data in our system, and we use the spatial and CASS tools to ensure accurate geocoding of our customer and client records. DataLever allowed us to reinvent our entire data transformation process using one product. We were able to accomplish this with a very small team of engineers in a very short time frame. Without DataLever's software, it would have taken many more months and many more dollars to complete this enormous task.
STRENGTHS: Ease of use, depth and speed are certainly DataLever's core strengths. Its visual interface and powerful macro capabilities allow implementation of extremely complex transformations - and you don't need a degree in computer science to make it work. The software's vast array of components covers everything from file manipulations to complex pattern recognition and advanced matching rules. Add to that the built-in CASS and spatial components, and you have everything you need in one easy-to-use interface. DataLever's multithreading capabilities let Vehix.com process tens of millions of records every day, at truly incredible speeds. I have been a professional in this space for more than 15 years, and I can honestly say that DataLever is one of the best data quality and integration platforms on the market today.
WEAKNESSES: DataLever could use some improvement in the area of monitoring and process flow between jobs. It lacks built-in tools to monitor how your jobs are performing and identify potential bottlenecks. It is also a bit of a challenge to model the interaction between jobs in one process flow. Adding these features would allow for better use of resources and improved throughput.
SELECTION CRITERIA: DataLever offered all the features we needed in one tool at a price point that was very competitive with the other players we evaluated in the space. Although the others have some features DataLever does not yet have, most of them require partnering with other third-party tools to round out the feature set we needed.
DELIVERABLES: DataLever is used to populate our transactional system with accurate data as well as supply our dimensional data warehouse with analytical data.
VENDOR SUPPORT: One of the best parts of working with DataLever is their incredible support staff. They are very responsive and always ready to answer any questions.
DOCUMENTATION: DataLever's documentation is complete, thorough and includes many examples that cover almost every feature the product offers.
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