REVIEWER: Larry Eymann, DBA II for Cabela’s.
BACKGROUND: Cabela's Incorporated is a leading specialty retailer and the world's largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise. Since the company's founding in 1961, Cabela's has grown to become one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands in the world.
PLATFORMS: Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server.
PROBLEM SOLVED: At Cabela’s, we have a large management information system team that uses the three major database management systems: Oracle, DB2 and increasingly SQL Server. We also have a group of application developers working on a point-of-sale project, and they require a different set of tools to perform their jobs. One problem we encounter is that nearly everyone wants a different software package for their job and most of the MIS team members work on a specific platform, whether it’s Oracle or SQL. This affects us in three main ways. First, the budget cannot support new requests for tools by someone on the MIS team every time a new task arises and, even if it could, the approval and purchase process could take six months. Second, we have several disparate platforms and databases that need to be supported and integrated, which is a major undertaking. And, third, the database and developer roles are overlapping more than ever before, and that means we need to use tools that are outside of our realms more frequently. The learning curve to get acquainted with a new tool or platform can eat into the team’s productivity.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Embarcadero All-Access, we can buy a license at a flat price and have access to nearly all of Embarcadero’s database and application development tools. This approach helps us circumvent a lengthy cost-justification process and budget cycle every time a new need arises because the tool is already there in our All-Access tool chest. The all-in-one license approach means everyone has the tools they need to do their jobs on a daily basis and can just jump into it, whether it’s managing disk space and database availability for an off-the-shelf application, administering databases across several platforms or keeping updated with changes on thousands of servers on our point-of-sale application. An added bonus is that Embarcadero’s tools are cross-platform and they have the same look and feel, which gives us familiarity with the tools and helps level the playing field among our database administrators and developers. The upshot is that productivity is very important, and having a toolset that fits into what we do every day on our jobs keeps productivity high.
STRENGTHS: All-Access’s strongest suit is that it gives us access to a number of great database and developer tools under a single license for one price. We don’t have to spend time comparing tool features and costs in a spreadsheet every time we need something new, since we already have it at our fingertips via All-Access. It also cuts down on the number of licenses and vendors that we have to manage, which is a pain point for most companies our size. Another huge plus for us is that Embarcadero’s tools are cross-platform. We use all of the major database management systems and would otherwise have to buy separate tools for each one, which would be costly and create larger learning curves because each would have a different look and feel.
WEAKNESSES: Registering All-Access and understanding how to use the keys for the various tools available in the All-Access tool chest was a more complex process than anticipated. It took more steps than seemed necessary and could stand to be more streamlined.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We were already fans of several Embarcadero tools and were using DBArtisan. When All-Access was announced and we heard that we could buy a license that would give us access to all of the Embarcadero tools we wanted for a cost comparable to buying one or two of them separately, we were sold.
DELIVERABLES: With All-Access, we pretty much get every product that Embarcadero offers and they’re all used differently, depending on the person and task. ER/Studio allows us to reverse-engineer packaged applications that are dropped in our laps, generate tables and ER diagrams, and produce reports that give us a holistic view of the database. With DBArtisan, we can administer all of our database platforms from one place and create and edit objects. DBOptimizer helps us address our DB2 performance issues by finding and optimizing poor-performing SQL, and it’s a great tool for working with developers to discuss issues that DBAs see in a given processing window.
VENDOR SUPPORT: It has been very easy to work with Embarcadero as our vendor, and we have felt supported throughout the process. Our point person at Embarcadero, in particular, is tremendous and always “on it.” She is extremely responsive and informative and, if she can’t solve our problem herself, she will find someone within the company who can.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was informative enough to get us started with All-Access and the Embarcadero tools we have access to. The demonstration videos in particular provided a solid introduction to tools that were new to us without having to read through every detail in the supportive documentation. We find it helpful to have face-to-face training as a second phase once we are deeper into the product and know the right questions to ask to ensure we’re getting the most from the product.
100 California St., 12th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
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