CATEGORY: Data Acquisition, Transformation and Replication

REVIEWER: Ken Bailey, e-business/data warehouse team lead for General Cable Corporation.

BACKGROUND: General Cable Corporation is a leader in the development, design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable products for the communications, energy and electrical markets. With annual revenues exceeding $2 billion and 12,300 employees, the company's operations are divided into the following geographic regions: North America and Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

PLATFORMS: DecisionBase Transformer from Computer Associates (CA) supports all commonly used databases. General Cable's environment consists of 125 servers and 3,000 clients on an NT OS platform, drawing from DB2, AS/400 and SQL Server databases.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were tasked with producing a Net Margin Analysis Report ­ a three-month project. The data required for the report was located in DB2, Access and Excel spreadsheets, both on site and in other locations around the U.S. We were facing the challenges of time, geography, complexity of the data in DB2 and disparate information across the AS/400 databases. To impact the problem further, there were no date fields in the AS/400 data. We realized we would have to build into our data warehouse a data mart specific to our business problem. Also, we desperately needed an ETL tool to transform and cleanse the data ­ particularly as we moved the AS/400 files. DecisionBase Transformer enabled us to quickly build and deploy a data warehouse, seamlessly extracting, cleansing and integrating data from a variety of relational and nonrelational sources and storing the transformed data in one easy-to-manage environment. We were able to generate date fields from the AS/400 data along the way. Because DecisionBase Transformer includes the PLATINUM Repository, which uses meta data to track, audit and analyze how the data warehouse was populated, we were able to verify the accuracy of the information and ensure data consistency. Bottom line ­ we were able to effectively access the various company-wide data sources, transform and cleanse the data, pull in the different costs and other information we required, and produce an accurate and timely Net Margin Analysis Report. Additionally, we were able to automate the process of gathering and processing information for all the other reports we generate ­ drastically reducing delivery time and freeing up valuable corporate resources previously involved in the query and report-generation process.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DecisionBase Trans-former allows us to easily handle the most complex transformations ­ saving development time and costs. The intuitive Graphical Mapper allows us to perform the transformation and movement tasks easily with drag-and-drop operations; and we build the applications with simple point-and-click functions. Visual Mapping provides a window into the source and target systems while applying the transformation and movement process, saving time and effort by allowing us to review and revise our work as we go.

STRENGTHS: DecisionBase Transformer has enabled us to build our data warehouse quickly, easily and cost-effectively. The functionality has given us the ability to see information in real-time, and its ease of use allows us to slice and dice to look at data in more views than before.

WEAKNESSES: The scheduler built into DecisionBase lacks some workflow processes that would help in the automation of scripts and the triggering of other events. Most of that functionality needs to be coded into the script.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected DecisionBase Transformer for its ease of use and reliability. The jobs need to run all the time ­ without a hitch. The competition's 90 percent accuracy rate was not good enough. All CA references we contacted confirmed the product's reliability and user-friendly functionality.

DELIVERABLES: Since its implementation, DecisionBase Transformer has had a tremendous impact on the IT department's ability to deliver the data our business users need, when they need it. This, in turn, has enabled General Cable as a company to move away from "reactive mode" and become much more proactive ­ and timely ­ in our daily business decisions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CA staff provided all the current information and experience to ensure our success. In the few instances where we did require assistance, CA's technical support staff proved to be highly professional, responsive and knowledgeable.

DOCUMENTATION: The online and printed documentation and other materials were complete, well- written and easy to understand.

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