BACKGROUND:Honeywell-Measurex is the leading supplier of measurement and industrial automation systems that unify business and control information throughout a plant or mill. Customers in the pulp and paper, plastics, non-wovens, rubber, steel, metals and printing industries use Honeywell-Measurex systems to reduce costs, increase production, improve quality and track company and mill performance.

PLATFORMS: The Sagent Data Mart Solution, Version 3.0 is running on a Windows NT-based application server with an Oracle8 database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our data warehouse load has been growing in incremental jumps, and this had a serious impact on the availability of our decision support data. We simply could not move, validate, cleanse and pump the operational data from our data warehouse into our two decision support data marts fast enough to keep pace with the needs of a global organization. For example, Honeywell-Measurex employees in Asia would often have to wait half a day or more for decision support data availability while it was being loaded and recounted. Honeywell-Measurex's data marts are used by employees to analyze critical customer, sales and product information, and they need to have consistently current information to produce accurate reports. Compounding the load level delays was an inefficient process. We were basically devising our own load scripts which ran sequentially because there were no dependency rules. We had to wait for lock files to complete before starting another process, which ate up more valuable time. We were never notified if an error occurred ­ either the database was loaded in the morning or it wasn't.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have used the Sagent Data Mart Solution throughout the entire life cycle of building our data marts, including data mart design, data movement and system management. Sagent pulls order entry data from a Sybase database, cleanses and validates the data and moves it to an Oracle8 database. We then break the data into two data marts. Sagent Automation, a tool that enables the automation of complex processes throughout the data mart environment, has provided a big boost to our system. Since we implemented Sagent Automation, our parallel running time has been reduced by almost 50 percent ­ from four hours to 2.25 hours. A sophisticated, event-driven scheduler, Sagent Automation has allowed us to do parallel jobs, dependencies and provides immediate notification by e-mail or pager if an error occurs during the load process. Generally, we can fix the failure immediately from home and feel confident that the database will be properly loaded in the morning.

STRENGTHS: A primary strength of the Sagent Data Mart Solution is its turnkey, centralized approach ­ you can implement, control and manage the entire data mart process in one tool. From a single intuitive interface, administrators can control the data extraction, cleansing, loading and movement into other systems. Sagent's centralized management also makes it easy to add data marts to an environment without increasing the administrative burden significantly.

WEAKNESSES: While Sagent's visual programming and data flow charts can simplify the task of designing data extraction and transformations from a sinuous web of systems, the diagramming can be confusing to a novice user. While Sagent's load planning is a relatively intuitive process, a complex data flow can be difficult to understand on screen. I understand Sagent is including several features in Version 4.0, such as data flow plan zooming and printing, that could make a complicated plan more user friendly.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose Sagent based on its turnkey approach and rich functionality, as well as the direction of the company and its close relationship with industry expert Ralph Kimball.

DELIVERABLES: Decision support data is pumped into an Essbase front end, where users can perform multidimensional analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Sagent has supported us excellently; we have nothing but compliments for the support staff. They are very technically competent, they know their product and respond very quickly.

DOCUMENTATION: Sagent is a relatively intuitive product. After some hands-on training, we had no need for the documentation.

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