BACKGROUND: In support of the bank's mission to provide world class customer service and support, First Citizens Bank deployed a data warehouse to give its commercial bankers seamless access to total customer relationship information.

PLATFORMS: The system at First Citizens Bank operates on a DEC Alpha platform running Digital UNIX. The Nucleus Exploration Suite is available for both 64-bit UNIX and 32-bit Windows NT platforms. A "Personal Edition" is available for Windows 95 and Windows 98 platforms.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Eager to begin taking advantage of the technology, First Citizens Bank sought to establish a mission-critical data warehouse. But as in many real-world business environments, the circumstances were less than optimal. The bank did not have a DBMS, a database administrator or any DBMS experience in house at the inception of the project. The company needed an outstanding "out-of-the-box" data warehouse solution that could be implemented and administered by a single practitioner after only one week of training. Using Nucleus, the logical data modeling design required only two days, while creating the physical model and supporting scripts took about one week. This seven-day effort became even more exceptional considering that a single person who had no database experience and who had other job responsibilities implemented the entire Nucleus effort.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: HDS's Nucleus Exploration Warehouse fit the bill for First Citizens Bank in two main respects. First, it facilitates the integration of data from a number of incompatible systems into a unified data warehouse environment for use by commercial bankers. Second, the system allows First Citizen Bank's knowledge workers to manage clients from a total customer relationship perspective by giving them access to all the products and services that each individual customer may have throughout the bank. Using token-based technology, Nucleus is capable of high query performance while efficiently exploiting hardware, network and human resources. First Citizens Bank is experiencing 25 percent compression from its original "flat file" size while still maintaining 100 percent indexing, resulting in storage savings as well as quick response to queries.

STRENGTHS: The use of Nucleus greatly simplifies the logical and physical data design processes. With Nucleus, the transformation from a logical to a physical model design is extremely simple with almost a one-to-one correlation. The ease of modeling and implementation has benefits that carry through to other aspects of the database environment. The Nucleus technology effectively stores data in a manner that allows query access against the data in its "compressed" form. This facet of Nucleus, combined with the high performance of the database, eliminates the need for aggregate tables to answer the detailed questions that the bank requires.

WEAKNESSES: For extremely large data sets, Nucleus's load speed of 1.5GB per hour (due to Nucleus's inherent data compression this can be viewed as equivalent to other products at up to 4.5GB per hour) may be a limitation. The rate of speed is due to the product's comprehensive indexing and "tokenizing" of data ­ the features that provide for storage reduction and true ad hoc query capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The bank selected Nucleus because its out-of-the-box data warehousing capabilities eliminated the need to staff a UNIX group or to hire a DBA.

DELIVERABLES: Thanks to Nucleus, commercial bankers at First Citizens Bank can, for the first time, use total relationship information to develop business and manage their portfolios. In the past, bankers would have had to consult as many as seven different systems for similar information. This single, seamless data warehouse is a vital tool in First Citizen's quest to provide world-class service to its commercial customers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The HDS Nucleus personnel are seasoned professionals who gave the bank a capable combination of hardware, software and support services. They came on site for the deployment, plugged in as necessary, transferred considerable knowledge to bank staff and have been responsive on the very few occasions the bank called on them.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation could be more complete and accurate; on the other hand, any limitations it may have did not prevent the bank from doing everything it wanted to.

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