BACKGROUND: May & Speh a leading provider of technology-based information management solutions focusing on direct and database marketing services for enterprises in a wide range of industries including financial, insurance, retail, consumer products, telecommunications and utilities. Its services include taking diverse sources of customer and prospect data and converting it into valuable knowledge databases that can then be mined for information that is imperative for highly targeted direct marketing or customer retention initiatives.

PLATFORMS: High-speed data movement between May & Speh's IBM and Hitachi mainframes and UNIX servers is accomplished with the Bus-Tech DataBlaster 2 using a dual ESCON channel attachment and dual ultra-wide SCSI connections.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Raw customer and prospect information provided by clients is initially processed into a rationalized form on one or more IBM and Hitachi mainframes. However, the CPU-intensive process of converting this rationalized data into value-added knowledge databases and enabling these databases to be used for applications such as data mining, interactive decision support or data warehousing is realized on a series of high-end UNIX platforms from Hewlett-Packard (HP), Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics and IBM. At present the company utilizes 16 UNIX platforms. One of the key challenges May & Speh faced was expeditiously moving, on an ongoing basis, the continually expanding data files from the mainframes to the UNIX systems. Conventional mainframe-to-UNIX interconnect approaches, including FDDI, could not adequately satisfy the need for simultaneous downloads of multiple 300-500GB databases. By utilizing DataBlaster 2 as the transport vehicle and four simultaneous data streams, this download can be accomplished in five to eight hours depending on tape speed. Best estimate for the FDDI network was five days! The company is expecting to reach terabyte-level databases within one to two years and already has multiple 300-500GB databases that must be loaded simultaneously. May & Speh would not be able to load these databases without DataBlaster 2.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataBlaster 2 was designed to support high-speed, gigabytes-per-minute data movement applications such as database load and bulk data transfer. Utilizing the existing high bandwidth interfaces of the enterprise systems, DataBlaster 2 provides a separate mainframe channel-to-SCSI "data highway" and enables the movement of data independent of the corporate network. DataBlaster 2 eliminated the need for transport protocols such as SNA or TCP/IP which limit throughput and consume valuable CPU cycles.

STRENGTHS: Simplicity, reliability and performance are the key strengths of DataBlaster 2. It uses a "ruggedized" rack mount platform designed for the data center. Applications use the "virtual tape" mode or Bus-Tech's mainframe channel-to-channel mode, providing optimum throughput with no network protocol overhead.

WEAKNESSES: Although DataBlaster 2 supports ESCON and fast/wide SCSI connections, Fibre Channel connections are not yet supported. However, support for this feature is planned for a future release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The key challenge facing May & Speh was finding an ultra-fast, highly reliable, mission-critical data transfer mechanism to rapidly transfer data between the IBM and Hitachi mainframes and the UNIX parallel processor systems. DataBlaster 2's IBM-channel-to-SCSI data transfer system helps May & Speh meet that challenge.

DELIVERABLES: DataBlaster 2 provides high bandwidth connectivity interfaces such as dual IBM mainframe ESCON (17.5 MBps) channels and four ultra-wide SCSI (40 MBps) connections to Sun, HP, IBM and SGI servers providing high-speed throughput capability.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Bus-Tech has proved the value of DataBlaster from the initial implementation through to production and has continued to provide excellent product support for all of the DataBlaster systems.

DOCUMENTATION: All DataBlaster 2 documentation is available on-line and includes site preparation checklists, DataBlaster 2 quickstart guides, user guides and additional helpful information.

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