PLATFORMS: Oracle client/server applications, AS/400 applications and LAN-based business applications.

BACKGROUND: Essilor of America is the world's largest lens and eyewear company.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were faced with the problem of collecting data from different laboratories that were not networked, and we needed the ability to provide information in a consistent format with OLAP capabilities. We met this challenge by developing our Lab Data Warehouse using SAS tools. Now we are providing evaluative criteria for driving the business forward. We can pull data out of new Oracle financial applications as well as the legacy AS/400 applications.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SAS/MDDB Server software (OLAP) makes it easier for business users to derive many views of data quickly, spot trends and identify possible opportunities or trouble spots, while eliminating the need for IS professionals to create or recreate customized reports to meet business users' changing analysis needs.

STRENGTHS: SAS Institute's MDDB Server offering includes a fully scalable and portable multidimensional database (MDDB) with client/server implementations, supporting most hardware platforms and access to internal and external data wherever it resides, including Internet and intranet data. Tightly integrated with the Institute's data warehouse/Web-enabled architecture, the MDDB Server allows unlimited views of data.

WEAKNESSES: For a project of this scope, there is an infinite amount of data business rules that had to come from system users. It was important for the team to understand business rules and the data in order for the ultimate product to be meaningful to the users. We did not anticipate the extensive time requirements for data cleansing and scrubbing.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The MDDB server links to both relational, non-relational and dynamic data sources, including the World Wide Web. It includes direct links and links via ODBC to more than 40 data sources, including Oracle, Sybase, Informix, CA, legacy and PC file formats. Object-oriented client/server development tools, support for additional third-party tools via OLE and a library of business objects make development easy. The MDDB server offers forecasting, trending, ad hoc analysis, slice and dice, drill down, drill through, roll up and modeling. It also offers a robust reporting environment that includes standard report templates and an underlying structure for automatic information updates.

DELIVERABLES: SAS/MDDB Server software supports the creation of large data sets required for multidimensional analysis. Through MDDB Server technology we have high- and detail-level drill-down capabilities. The new version of the MDDB viewer offers functionality that greatly improves IntrNet MDDB presentation and flexibility from a user perspective. We use SAS/Warehouse Administrator software as well--it provides a single point of control for defining data structures and relationships and managing the warehouse. The SAS/IntrNet software module is used for deploying the Lab Data Warehouse through Essilor of America's intranet. SAS/IntrNet configuration enables us to reach a virtually unlimited audience of authorized users, while at the same time significantly controlling costs. SAS/EIS is used by the data warehouse developers for creating data views and reports presented through SAS/IntrNet.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Before we could define models required to meet the analysis needs, work had to be done to interpret and integrate legacy data structures. Data cleanliness has consistently been considered a key factor for the success of this project, requiring iterative integration of dissimilar data from diverse business units to produce standard results. SAS support was a tremendous help in accomplishing this phase.

DOCUMENTATION: SAS/MDDB Server software documentation helped us in every phase of the project. New concepts of rapid/repeat development were used in conjunction with new and innovative software. New rapid development technologies of iterative and often unstructured development required some adjustments.

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