PLATFORMS: The Sagent Data Mart Server is running on a Windows NT-based application server accessing an Oracle7.3 database running under AIX; Design Studio and Information Studio clients run under Windows 95; WebLink runs with Microsoft's Internet Information Server under Windows NT.
BACKGROUND: General American Transportation Corporation is a global supplier of rail transportation solutions and a full-service lessor of over 81,000 railcars--including the largest tank car fleet in North America. The railcar fleet serves major producers and users of bulk chemical, petroleum, mineral and food-related commodities. General American provides an integrated repair and service network in order to maximize railcar in-service time for its customers and also offers rail logistics and financial management solutions. General American is a wholly owned subsidiary of GATX Corporation.
PROBLEM SOLVED: General American introduced access to key business information through its www.gatxrail.com Web site. Customers and their business partners have 24x7 access to mechanical profile and repair status information necessary to operate their GATX railcar fleets. Customers can also access information for GATX railcar service planning and monitor key GATX service performance indicators. In addition to useful information about General American, our products and our sales and service networks, Sagent software helps us to develop and deploy customized information services for our customers.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Sagent Technology's Data Mart Server, WebLink, Design Studio and Information Studio software enable General American to design, develop and maintain data mart queries and reports which employees, customers and other business partners can access through the Internet. The environment leverages our internal decision support resources to provide a flexible and extensible "information authoring and publishing" environment. As new objectives are presented and/or new information is assembled, General American can quickly make valuable reports and analyses available to customers. Sagent's multitier business intelligence software supports efficient data movement, query/analysis/report building and Web security and publishing. Business analysts use Sagent's Design Studio and Information Studio client software to develop "customer information products." The Data Mart Solution server supports application security, meta data, database access, multithreaded intermediate processing and caching. WebLink provides APIs and tools for Web integration, including ActiveX controls and VBA 5.0 and Active Server Pages support.
STRENGTHS: Sagent provides an excellent GUI (data flow model), which supports both data movement/mart creation and end-user query/analysis/reporting functionality. The architecture is multitiered, strongly leverages the Windows NT operating system and supports native Web server APIs. The software includes a large number of data sourcing/manipulation/loading tools (data transforms) and the ability to develop custom transforms if necessary.
WEAKNESSES: Sagent products are very Microsoft-centric; integration with other platforms can be more complex and difficult. The products are still relatively new particularly in terms of ROLAP capabilities. Major new releases are fairly frequent.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Sagent supports "value-based security" through the Web--the ability to pass an authenticated user ID into a query as a constraint. Licensing for the Sagent Data Mart Solution is based on the number of servers employed--not named--and/or concurrent user licensing.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Sagent's support of their product has been good--difficult and urgent issues are elevated and/or access is given to development and product management staff if necessary.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation has been satisfactory.
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