REVIEWER: Dr. Tim Murphy, head of IT for Lyndale Foods Group.

BACKGROUND: Lyndale Foods Group produces and sells quality sandwich, cake and bread products from its four bakeries throughout the UK - Sayers, Peter Hunts, Hampsons and Maison Blanc. The group supplies UK consumers through its retail network of approximately 240 shops as well as through national catering chains and wholesale distributors. The company employs 3,000 staff and its annual sales are approximately £100 million.

PLATFORMS: Our IT environment includes an IBM iSeries server running SSA Global's BPCS ERP software, with each division operating its own BPCS environment. Also, Microsoft SQL Server is used for a separate data warehouse which employs Cognos' business intelligence software.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our IT systems are required to process more than 1 million transactions per month. This data places a high load on our operational server. Therefore, we required a solution that would offload data from our main IBM iSeries server to prevent large amounts of data from impacting transaction and operational performance. We also needed to make this information rapidly available to internal users, given the seasonal variations in our business and the perishable nature of our stock.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataMirror Transfor-mation Server reduces the load on our primary system by transferring high volumes of data to our SQL Server-based data warehouse and consolidating it across our divisions. The solution mirrors more than 2 million stock movements per month in real time between our iSeries and SQL Server data warehouse, ensuring that all information is current and easily accessible.

STRENGTHS: Since October 2001, Transformation Server has been rapidly and seamlessly integrating large volumes of operational data into our data warehousing environment. To date, our production environment has been purged of data that is more than 12 months old, allowing us to significantly increase the performance of our operational computing environment without having to invest in further upgrades or increased storage.

WEAKNESSES: Under normal circumstances, the replication of changes on our iSeries is reflected in SQL Server within a couple of seconds. However, when replication has been suspended for any reason and is restarted, it is challenging to monitor when the two databases are once again synchronized. Although synchronization can be difficult to monitor, we're confident in knowing that our systems are in synch when replication reconvenes - without needing to refresh everything. To address this, DataMirror is making significant enhancements to Transformation Server's Enterprise Administrator Monitor.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We enlisted the help of Simpson Associates, a UK-based DataMirror partner, to advise us on what solution we should implement. We selected DataMirror as our preferred solutions provider because they were strongly recommended to us by Simpson Associates and they have an alliance partnership with SSA Global.

DELIVERABLES: Transformation Server allowed us to bring to market an effective solution for real-time data warehousing and business intelligence in a record 25 days! Since implementing Transformation Server, sales analysis is delivered 400% faster and with more confidence because it is based on accurate, up-to-date information. We have also been able to standardize reporting across our businesses to ensure consistency and allow management to compare and contrast performance. Our management team can now get a real-time view of our business and can drill down to data on particular products, shops or regions. Sales of similar products can then be easily compared, without the manual re-keying of data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Transformation Server has really proved to be a Rolls Royce solution for our needs in terms of quality and reliability - but delivered at an affordable price. Not only does it provide real-time data integration and transformation between our key systems, but it also requires virtually no maintenance - we only need to check it once per day. We know that we can count on DataMirror's support team to assist us with any challenges that may arise.

DOCUMENTATION: The support documentation is well detailed and easy to follow.

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