BACKGROUND: In the U.S., office furniture and Steelcase, Inc. are almost synonymous terms. No wonder that the firm calls itself "The Office Environment Company." Founded in 1912 and still headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steelcase's environment now goes well beyond the boundaries of the U.S. It is the largest manufacturer of office furniture in the world.
PLATFORMS: At Steelcase, Inc., ETI*EXTRACT runs on HP. Source and target platforms include IBM OS/390 mainframe, HP/UX and Compaq Tru64 UNIX systems. Source and target databases include COBOL and UNIX flat files, SAP, Oracle and DB2.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Steelcase is supported by numerous legacy databases and sources such as IMS, DB2, VSAM, flat files and the old Steelcase manufacturing database, CFMS. To better manage the huge infrastructure of partners, vendors, clients, parts and products, Steelcase decided to build an enterprise-wide data infrastructure using SAP R/3 and Oracle. Unable to dispense with CFMS, Steelcase wanted to move complex, nonuniform data both ways to and from the new data infrastructure and the old databases.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ETI*EXTRACT is the enterprise- wide standard for data movement at Steelcase. It is in heavy use for data movement between the mainframe and SAP, SAP and Oracle, UNIX flat files and SAP, and mainframe and Oracle. An ETI consultant customization package was implemented that allowed us to use our mainframe scheduling package and change control procedures to control data movement in all environments.
STRENGTHS: A major reason we chose ETI*EXTRACT was because of its architecture. Production jobs execute in the same manner as if they were manually developed. This means that data is not funneled through a central server engine that could cause a bottleneck or single point of failure. Since no ETI software is required on the source and target servers, software maintenance requires fewer resources, complexity is reduced and maintaining compatibility with many data sources and operating systems is much easier. Another strength is that much less technical knowledge of the data source/target environment is needed. A programmer can develop conversions without in-depth knowledge of Oracle stored procedures, SAP ABAP language, C and COBOL making them quicker to develop and easier to maintain across staff changes.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness we have found is in developing the knowledge required to use the product effectively. First time use is much slower than manual development due to the steep learning curve and usually requires consulting. The major benefits are derived from repeated use and continuously tailoring the product to your environment, so it is best to have a central support group rather than expecting every programmer to learn the tool. Steelcase has not done this, so the tool is used mostly in areas where initial training and use occurred.
SELECTION CRITERIA: One of the main reasons for buying this tool was to move responsibility for data movement out of the database area to the applications systems analysts. They are the ones who know the data and the business rules that need to be applied. We needed to reduce the database knowledge needed to implement. Speed of implementation and ease of maintenance of new data movement applications in a diverse environment were critical. No single point of failure, ease of product maintenance and customizability were also high on the list of architecture issues.
DELIVERABLES: ETI*EXTRACT allows you to move data from many sources to many targets on many different hardware platforms in a uniform, standard way.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The ETI technical support staff is very knowledgeable and quick to respond. They have implemented many of the recommendations of the customer advisory board. The user conference is very educational, and the management is very accessible.
DOCUMENTATION: ETI*EXTRACT documentation is good for detailed reference, but it is sometimes hard for a novice to put the big picture together. The documentation is continuously being improved; online tutorials are now available including a forum for questions.
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