BACKGROUND: First Union Corporation is a leading financial services company with assets of $237 billion. Ranked as the nation's sixth largest bank and eighth largest brokerage firm, First Union serves 16 million customers who need access to account information and financial products via financial centers, automated teller machines and the Internet.

PLATFORMS: IBM RS/6000 SP data warehouse, AIX 4.3 operating system, Informix XPS relational database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In a quest to better serve our customers, First Union developed a customer-centric data warehouse that could be accessed by employees across the enterprise ­ from senior executives to sales managers. With plans to triple the warehouse size to 27 terabytes, we required a completely scalable, robust product architecture that could handle our growing business intelligence needs without sacrificing the necessary detail of First Union's customer analyses. For this reason, we chose MicroStrategy's DSS Suite. At the heart of DSS Suite is DSS Server, MicroStrategy's powerful decision support engine, recognized for its ability to generate optimized SQL against very large relational databases. First Union's Informix database is no exception. Just recently, First Union deployed its new data mart, Sigma, for knowledge workers to better access critical customer information. Executives and sales managers can now use Sigma for information gathered from First Union's massive data warehouse, as it is packaged for simpler, faster reporting and analysis via the Web. DSS Server is a key component of the Sigma roll out, arming our administrators with the tools necessary to ensure best-of-breed performance. Our users are now identifying consumer trends in a fast, reliable manner, enabling First Union to focus on the best, long-term interest of the customer.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With DSS Server, First Union's enterprise information management team can:

* Manage First Union's business intelligence system by prioritizing queries, scheduling batch processes, and monitoring job queues.

  • Accurately tune system parameters based on usage statistics found in DSS Server's transaction log.
  • Schedule agents to run/refresh reports and cache them during low-traffic hours.
  • Allocate available processing resources to meet the needs of each end-user community.
  • Guarantee the most accurate query results to corporate management, business analysts and marketing scientists.

DSS Server provides us with a state-of-the-art product to ensure optimal query and analysis performance for large numbers of concurrent users. With its breadth of functionality, DSS Server helps us to continually grow our system ­ a must for a massive roll out such as ours.
STRENGTHS: Nobody other than MicroStrategy has truly developed an aggregate-aware engine that can determine exactly the right path for fast retrieval of the best customer information. In other words, our users get exactly the information they need to conduct their business. Given this, and the functionality listed above, DSS Server sets MicroStrategy's entire business intelligence offering apart from its competition.

WEAKNESSES: While MicroStrategy's DSS Server is clearly the most powerful ROLAP engine on the market, we would like the option of storing MicroStrategy's meta data as part of DSS Server to share among several projects.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After a careful review of competing products and architectures, we determined that DSS Server was the best product of its kind. We truly believe that MicroStrategy has delivered the most well-thought-out ROLAP engine on the market today.

DELIVERABLES: With DSS Server, we are able to provide timely information to users at every level of our enterprise. On the back end, we are able to effectively track usage statistics and monitor our system. On the front end, users can view every dimension of customer behavior, ensure consistent product messaging, effectively spearhead and manage one-to-one marketing campaigns and improve customer satisfaction and profitability ­ all of which greatly impact First Union's bottom line and position in the marketplace.

VENDOR SUPPORT: While Micro- Strategy vendor support includes extensive consulting, education and technology services, we have a developed a highly qualified team that handles First Union's day-to-day decision support needs.

DOCUMENTATION: MicroStrategy maintains a Web site for customer updates, downloads of any new releases and details on known issues. The manuals for DSS Server have also proved to be very useful.

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