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MatchLogic Drills the Internet for Data with Ardent Software's DataStage

Published
  • July 01 1999, 1:00am EDT

BACKGROUND: Westminster, Colorado-based MatchLogic Inc. is an independent subsidiary of Excite, Inc. that provides a full range of integrated Internet marketing services to clients such as Charles Schwab, Dell, General Motors and Proctor & Gamble. MatchLogic's services include strategic consulting, ad and e-mail serving, near real-time performance tracking, and intelligent targeting. MatchLogic is a member of the World Wide Web Consortium as well as a premier partner and founding member of TRUSTe, a leading advocate of Internet privacy.

PLATFORMS: Server: Solaris 2.6, Sun 4500 10 processors, 6GB RAM. Clients: NT 4.0 workstations. Database: Oracle8.0.5 and Oracle8.1.5.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The foundation of our business is data. The quicker we can make data available for our clients, the better our ROI. Before implementing DataStage as our extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) tool, it took as many as ten days to bring a new client on-line ­ a process that involved adding new data sources with unique data fields and data types. With DataStage, our ramp-up time for a new client now ranges from two or three hours to a maximum of two days. Additionally, we have upgraded our data feeds and batch data feeds to real or near-real time and restructured our data warehouses in a meta data-centric architecture.

FUNCTIONALITY: Currently, MatchLogic has the largest profile database in existence. The database collects data on 360 million Web page impressions every day. We expect this number to grow to 500 million per day later this year and more than one billion per day by the year 2000. DataStage is the tool that processes and directs data from collection points to our databases. I am confident that the tool's scalability and flexibility will facilitate MatchLogic's growing information infrastructure, especially as we increase the number of customers we serve and expand the services we provide.

STRENGTHS: DataStage's automated workflow environment, reusable components, and packaging and deployment features eased development across the enterprise and improved warehouse reliability. Also, DataStage's ability to capture meta data enables developers to maintain the warehouse. For business analysts and end users, DataStage stores information on where the data has come from and how it has been transformed, ultimately giving decision-makers more confidence in their information.

WEAKNESSES: Overall we have had a positive experience with both the DataStage product and Ardent's services. The company's support structure is improving ­ evolving to more of an "enterprise-level" support rather than just product-level support.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Although we did evaluate several tools, we opted for transformation engine tools over code generators. Several factors ultimately led us to choose DataStage: Performance ­ DataStage significantly outperformed other products on the market, executing the same routines as fast or much faster than competitors. Functionality ­ we could extract and transform data from operational systems much more easily using DataStage. DataStage provided a flexible environment that allowed us to perform data transformations and manipulations either in the source system or in the transformation engine itself without first writing the data into a flat file. DataStage's ability to incorporate call-outs to PostalSoft and other third-party products such as SyncSort was also important to us. This really helped with enterprise-wide application integration. Fit with requirements ­ we needed a tool to build a warehouse which is DataStage's strength. Competing tools did not allow us the freedom to build from different sources. We load data from more than 35 data sources every day and the formats change weekly, so flexibility was key in the product choice.

DELIVERABLES: DataStage has enabled us to quadruple the volume of data we are handling without increasing our staff to accommodate the growth. Additionally, the tool's ability to process "dynamic" dimensions in our star schema warehouses was very important.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been good, but not up to par with other software vendors. However, we have seen great improvement in the last 90 days, and the company now offers 7x24 support which was one of our key requests. Their ability to login to our systems for support is also very helpful.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is on-line and easy to follow. It has helped solve several problems without the need for calling tech support. The installation documentation could use a little work, but we are already on our second release and have seen improvements.

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