REVIEWER: David Gillhouse, vice president of information technology for The Chamberlain Group, Inc.
BACKGROUND: The Chamberlain Group, Inc. is a Duchossois enterprise, a privately held Fortune 1000 corporation based in Elmhurst, Illinois. Chamberlain is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial door operators and residential garage door openers. Chamberlain's products are sold under the LiftMaster, MotorLift, Sentex, Chamberlain, Power Drive and Whisper Drive brand names. Chamberlain also manufactures products for a number of private brands including Craftsman for Sears.
PLATFORMS: Chamberlain's computing environment consists of a distributed processing strategy in which the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, namely its manufacturing and order fulfillment applications, run on two separate IBM iSeries (AS/400) systems that are housed in different locations. The manufacturing applications are located on an AS/400 in Nogales, Mexico, while the order fulfillment applications run on an AS/400 in Elmhurst, Illinois. Other e-business and business intelligence applications are located on a Windows NT system running MS SQL server that is housed in Elmhurst.
PROBLEM SOLVED: With a large number of applications running on different systems in two different locations, we found it challenging to maintain data in real time across all three systems and handle high-volume transactions with accuracy. We clearly needed a scalable data integration solution that would capture our data in real time and flow it between our AS/400-based and NT-based systems. DataMirror Transformation Server enabled us to meet this need.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Since the implementation of DataMirror Transformation Server, current information is more readily accessible to staff for rapid decision making. Our sales and marketing teams are now able to monitor the success of special pricing promotions and assess overall market share penetration. Our IT staff can develop special reports and queries in a matter of minutes versus days. Transformation Server provides us with such immense benefits that we have considered running our e- business applications on an AS/400 server instead of the existing NT-based server and using Transformation Server to integrate transactions from our e- business applications to our order fulfillment system, providing our users with increased flexibility and reliability.
STRENGTHS: The most notable strengths of Transformation Server include the solution's robust Windows NT and AS/400 integration capabilities, price, performance and low operating overhead costs.
WEAKNESSES: We have experienced some inconsistencies in how our AS/400 applications and Transformation Server handle "soft" record deletes. We are currently discussing possible solutions with DataMirror's product development team.
SELECTION CRITERIA: After evaluating Transformation Server's capabilities and performance, we selected the solution because of its true real-time integration capabilities, its ability to support multiplatform environments and the solution's competitive pricing, performance and low operating overhead costs.
DELIVERABLES: Transformation Server is key to our day-to- day business operations as it provides more than 1,000 employees, customers and dealers with real-time access to key business information, integrating more than 27 million transactions daily on 64 tables ranging from seven records to more than 6 million. We have also enhanced our customer service levels, increased employee productivity and reduced IT spending by approximately 20 percent. Additionally, we have eliminated approximately 98 percent of our hard- copy reports, conserving more than 1.8 million pieces of paper annually, resulting in less paperwork and associated handling costs. DataMirror's solution enabled the seamless integration of our consumer Web sites with next- generation order fulfillment systems and flexibility in data warehousing applications for management reporting.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We are very pleased with the customer support that DataMirror's sales and support staff has provided. The staff is friendly and willing to take joint ownership of our projects as we implemented them. They were all very thorough and determined to solve any challenges in a timely and efficient manner. They also provided us with guidance and hands-on training as needed.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for Transformation Server was easy to follow. Moreover, our users did not require any detailed or additional knowledge in order to use the software which saved us time and money that would have otherwise been spent on things such as programming, recoding and preparation of target systems.
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