BACKGROUND: San Francisco-based RateXchange, Inc. is a business-to- business (B2B) e-commerce company that provides a neutral marketplace for the buying and selling of bandwidth and other telecommunications products and services. Through its Real-Time Bandwidth eXchange (RTBX), a commodity exchange for telecommunications capacity, carriers and Internet service providers can interconnect and trade telecommunications spot and forward contracts. RateXchange also provides Web-based lead generation for domestic and international telephony traffic, private lines and market information services for more than 5,000 members.

PLATFORMS: RateXchange, for which iDecizion is the data analysis and visualization engine, runs on Sun Microsystems servers and workstations running Solaris 7. In addition to all popular versions of UNIX, iDecizion supports the Linux and Windows NT operating systems.

PROBLEM SOLVED: RateXchange provides its customers with a database of information about telecommunications prices. We also want to provide the tools that will allow our customers to have multiple views of the underlying information as it relates to both their own transactions and the market in general. As such, we searched the commercial data analysis/visualization marketplace for a Web-enabled product that allowed us to quickly develop a wide variety of professional graphics and provided a set of analysis/mathematical tools that gave us the capability to easily apply complex mathematical processes to our data before it is presented to our customer. We selected iDecizion from Visual Numerics, a leader in data visualization technology.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: RateXchange is an online exchange for telecommunications bandwidth. We provide our users with an efficient means to buy and sell telecommunications bandwidth either through bid/ask exchanges, auctions or bulletin boards. We needed a Web-enabled analysis and visualization engine that was capable of handling large amounts of complex data efficiently. We needed powerful statistical and mathematical analysis, pattern recognition and data visualization capabilities combined with interactive connectivity to several disparate data sources. Three- and four- dimensional visualizations are also a key requirement of our customers who want multiple views of transaction and market data.

STRENGTHS: iDecizion provides significant value not only because of its powerful visualization tools, but also because of the strong data analysis capabilities offered through Visual Numerics' IMSL Numerical Libraries which are included in iDecizion. This is an area that clearly separates Visual Numerics from its competition. We considered embedding other products as RateXchange's data visualization engine, but none offered the advanced mathematical and statistical analysis functionality that is included with iDecizion. Another strength is its open architecture, which makes it easy to integrate iDecizion's core functionality with our products. The maturity and stability of iDecizion are also important.

WEAKNESSES: While we have not yet experienced any critical weaknesses in iDecizion, one could be its requirement that visualizations be created on the server which can limit user interaction with the graphics. However, the server scripting language simplifies the creation of custom plots and interactions for the iDecizion developer.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected iDecizion for five primary reasons: it is a flexible product, giving us the ability to quickly and easily generate multiple views of RateXchange data; it has an open architecture, making it easy to integrate iDecizion with our existing systems; it is a complete solution, combining state- of-the-art visualizations with advanced data analysis tools; it is Web-enabled, which is mandatory since our business is conducted on the Internet; and it is a stable product, meaning we won't lose valuable development time dealing with system failures or bugs.

DELIVERABLES: Through the RateXchange/iDecizion combination, we provide our customers with access to critical telecommuncations industry data and the ability to generate multiple views of the underlying information. RateXchange uses iDecizion's 2-D, 3-D and 4-D visualization tools as well as its numerical analysis and pattern recognition capabilities to turn complex data into meaningful information for our customers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Visual Numerics' pre-sales support has been outstanding. We do not yet have a basis for evaluating post-sales support.

DOCUMENTATION: We have just started using both the online and hard-copy documentation. On the surface it looks to be thorough and easy to use.

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