BACKGROUND: Operating in more than 65 countries, MCI WorldCom is a premier provider of facilities-based and fully integrated local, long distance, international and Internet services. The company is a global leader in communications services with 1998 revenues of more than $30 billion and operations in more than 65 countries, providing high-capacity connectivity to more than 40,000 buildings worldwide.

PLATFORMS: Our Sybase 11.5 OLTP database runs on SGI Challenge L Server hardware using the IRIX 6.5 operating system and an Allaire ColdFusion Web front end. We use ER/Studio with Windows 98 on several IBM ThinkPad notebooks with Pentium II and Pentium III processors and 64MB of RAM.

PROBLEM SOLVED: My team manages a complex environment comprised of various Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server databases running several Web sales force applications. These applications support over 3,000 users in sales, analyst and management positions, making efficiency and simplicity critical. One database in particular is continuously changed and updated, creating an issue of developing new database models that must be quickly driven from development to production. ER/Studio enabled us to reverse engineer the database to get it from development to production in a matter of minutes. We also use ER/Studio to create and compare the development and production databases. We compare objects line for line, then automatically generate create object and alter object scripts to ensure the production database matches the development database. ER/Studio delivers great control migrating from development to production.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product functionality of ER/Studio suits us well, especially for publishing database schema as HTML so our development team can share the schema on our intranet. Last year, we used ER/Studio to rebuild several databases from the ground up, due to an operating system upgrade. Without ER/Studio, it would've taken 10 times as long to extract all the database schema and then apply it to the new instances of Sybase. In the future, we'll probably utilize ER/Studio's database migration functionality to move some of our SQL Server data models to Sybase databases.

STRENGTHS: ER/Studio's ease of use and intuitive GUI ensure that anyone on our team can quickly begin using the product to model databases and begin learning complex DBA tasks. ER/Studio's speed is very good for large database extractions ­ it was no problem to handle an extraction with 20 tables and 40 to 50 stored procedures. With the number of procedures we have dependent on the database objects, we used ER/Studio's parsers to automatically update procedural code whenever we made changes to tables, columns or any other objects. ER/Studio also natively supports IBM DB2 UDB, SQL Server, Oracle and Sybase databases, so we don't have to use different applications to work on our various databases.

WEAKNESSES: Response time can be sluggish when I use ER/Studio remotely, but I'm not certain this is an ER/Studio problem ­ it could also be my laptop, the amount of RAM and other open applications. I understand ER/Studio works with the Citrix MetaFrame and NFuse technologies for optimized remote response time.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our major reason for selecting ER/Studio was our great satisfaction using its companion product, DBArtisan, for database management. DBArtisan's power, ease of use and functionality sold us on Embarcadero applications. After DBArtisan, we were eager to use Embarcadero's database modeling application. The major advantage of ER/Studio is that it solved the problem of modeling both Sybase and SQL Server databases with the same application.

DELIVERABLES: We use ER/Studio to produce HTML reports on our database schema and hard-copy reports of data model physical diagrams which are great for our developers. We also rely on ER/Studio for change management and to generate ALTER scripts to ensure changes between our development and production applications are error free.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Embarcadero's support is excellent. The company continuously updates ER/Studio to accommodate Sybase and SQL Server upgrades and provides .ftp addresses for beta, release candidate and final codes through its monthly e-mail newsletter. Embarcadero support also responds to telephone inquiries the same day they receive them.

DOCUMENTATION: ER/Studio's on-line documentation is easy to understand and allows me to easily use the product.

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