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DataStage Enables Real-Time Transaction Processing Into the CCC Data Warehouse

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Debbie Day, vice president of product development for CCC Information Services Inc.

BACKGROUND: CCC Information Services Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCC Information Services Group, supplies electronic estimating software, communications, Internet and wireless technology to the automotive claims and collision-repair industries. Its technology-based products and services optimize efficiency and facilitate communication between more than 20,000 collision-repair facilities and 350 insurance companies.

PLATFORMS: The CCC data warehouse production platform is IBM RedBrick 6.2 running under Sun Solaris on a Sun Microsystems SunFire 4800.

PROBLEM SOLVED: CCC needed a system that could provide customers with access to data from more than 1 million claims-related transactions each day delivered via management reports, scorecards and dashboards. The information was required in near-real time while facilitating the ability to report not only on past data, but also on trends evaluated through predictive analysis. CCC recognized that both transaction volumes and user expectations for its data warehouse were increasing. Meanwhile, batch window and processing availability were decreasing. The company incorporated a new breed of XML message-based sources into its warehouse. Implementing best practices and new software capabilities provided by Ascential DataStage, CCC and Ascential were able to reduce the processing time required to ETL the XML data by 98.2%, thereby enabling near real-time transaction processing into the CCC data warehouse.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CCC standardized on DataStage, which allowed us to tap into a variety of features to accomplish some major business goals. These features include: the ability to call external sub-routines from DataStage; combining operational and historical reporting into a single solution; and implementing advanced features of DataStage technology to an extent that no other adopter of this technology pursued. CCC worked closely with Ascential to beta test and use a new version of its XML Pack that fully supported the current W3C XML standard. Additionally, DataStage shared containers allowed CCC to develop reusable components, a major cost savings because they eliminate replication of code - reducing the possibility of errors introduced by developers and simplifying maintenance.

STRENGTHS: One strength is DataStage's efficient ETL processing. In addition, by encapsulating the complex business rules required to process the XML transactions within a DataStage ETL process, the implementation of these business rules has been captured in meta data that can easily be reported on to validate business rule compliance, is self-documenting and provides the vehicle for ease of maintenance.

WEAKNESSES: In our current release, a developer isn't able to cut and paste a DataStage object, but this function is available with the new release. We would also like to see tighter integration with all tools (e.g., DataStage TX and meta data).

SELECTION CRITERIA: CCC needed a solution that pushed the limits of emerging technologies and products in the areas of XML and Web services, bringing together data integration, enterprise application integration and messaging technologies. Ultimately, DataStage was our clear choice to accomplish application and data integration and deploy it a single, unified, enterprise-wide integration engine.

DELIVERABLES: By becoming an early adopter of data warehousing extranet technology, we have been able to deliver tangible results to customers while realizing ROI and driving revenue for our company. Integrated with the data warehouse, reinspection reports can assist insurers in tracking and managing their reinspection process to more quickly and easily view when and where estimates do not comply with their business rules. The time to market to launch new data warehousing products decreased by an estimated 50% with the use of the Ascential tool due to the stability of data warehouse and adherence to standards and process. Additionally, product development has decreased from 1 year to an average of 3 months. The Ascential solution has more than doubled CCC processing bandwidth as well, providing us with added server and update window capability to support new applications and services. Through our CCC ClaimScope Navigator application, we now deliver data to 1,700 users daily.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been good, particularly on issues critical to CCC. We receive hot fix patches very quickly, while services are very proactive and efficient in resolving any priority items.

DOCUMENTATION: Overall, the documentation is very good, and CCC looks forward to an even more structured training process from Ascential.

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