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Landstar Delivers Heightened Services with DataMirror Transformation Server

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Published
  • July 01 2003, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Bob Leo, director of data management and administration at Landstar System, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Landstar System, Inc. is a non- asset-based transportation capacity provider delivering safe, specialized services to a broad range of customers throughout North America. The company identifies and fulfills shippers' needs through the coordination of individual businesses comprised of independent sales agents, business capacity owners (Landstar's independent contractors who operate a small business and provide the equipment necessary to haul freight) and other transportation capacity providers. Landstar's carrier group delivers excellence in complete over-the- road transportation services. Landstar's multimodal group provides expedited, contract logistics and intermodal transportation services. All Landstar operating companies are certified to ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standards.

PLATFORMS: IBM iSeries (AS/400) and Microsoft SQL Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our computing environment is comprised of three IBM iSeries (AS/400) systems located in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rockford, Illinois. We also have multiple Microsoft SQL Server systems in Jacksonville and Beltsville, Maryland. With a number of applications running on different platforms in various locations, we found it challenging to integrate high volume transactions with accuracy in real time across all systems. We needed a scalable data integration solution to provide our small business owners with a real-time view of the information they need to run their businesses efficiently.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: In 1997, we implemented DataMirror Transformation Server to integrate data bidirectionally and in real time between our systems. However, at that time, we had not established an enterprise-wide data movement strategy to complement the DataMirror solution. We knew Transformation Server would be a key component of our data management infrastructure, as the solution met our technical requirements for integration and movement. For several years, programmers from different company departments attempted to combine several different methods of implementing Transformation Server to create an effective centralized strategy. However, over the years, our dream of an efficient data movement solution turned into an unarchitected maintenance nightmare requiring an abundant amount of time and resources. In January 2002, we formed a data management group and cross-functional task force that developed an effective strategy that, combined with Transformation Server, centralizes data into our information management environment. Today, we streamline the movement of our mission-critical information between source and target systems through the combined DataMirror and data management solutions.

STRENGTHS: Transformation Server's real-time and bidirectional data flow capabilities have enabled us to heighten service levels and strengthen our company-wide operational efficiencies. Our employees and small business owners are now equipped with a real-time view of critical business information, enabling them to be more productive and ultimately deliver better results.

WEAKNESSES: Our initial experience with the support function of the solution was disappointing until DataMirror learned more about our unusual business model and the unique challenges it brings to the table. Our recent experience is much better as our relationship has matured.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Transformation Server because of its ability to support a wide range of heterogeneous systems ­ namely, the AS/400 and SQL Server platforms. This capability provides us with the assurance that this solution will expand as our technology environment expands.

DELIVERABLES: Transformation Server integrates several mission-critical tables each day, with some tables containing nearly two million rows. Moreover, the solution directly benefits more than 10,000 users including small business owners and employees, providing them with access to real-time flows of information. We are very pleased with the end-to-end capabilities of Transformation Server. One of the most significant benefits attained from this solution is our data movement times have been reduced from 30 minutes to just over five seconds. This helps create equal business opportunities for everyone, as we can now access the most current data faster and deliver unparalleled excellence in transportation services to our customers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We are pleased with DataMirror's willingness to work with us and learn about our business. The sales and customer support teams are very knowledgeable, understand our specific needs and are always available when we need help.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for Transformation Server was so effective that our implementation team did not require prior experience or additional knowledge to implement and manage this solution.

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