REVIEWER: Kevin Hagedorn, senior database developer for Merkle.

BACKGROUND: As one of the nation's top database marketing agencies, Merkle works with leading companies and organizations to help them effectively leverage information to maximize the ROI of their marketing programs. To ensure its clients effectively use data within their marketing programs, Merkle builds and manages extensive databases called Knowledge Centers that provide the framework necessary to strategically apply database marketing strategies to marketing programs.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Windows and Linux systems; SQL Server and Netezza databases; EMC and SCSI SANS.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We sought a solution that would expedite and streamline our ability to extract demographic data, analytics, profiles and model scores from extensive databases holding millions of records. Specifically, we sought to run decile and percentile processing at both the state and national level. While our process was effective, we could not act on the information as quickly as we desired. Shortening the time needed to process information would enable our clients to execute marketing campaigns in a shorter timeframe.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: By using DMExpress, we were able to significantly decrease the time needed to extract information. For example, we extracted 240GB of data, stripped off the model scores and ran the processing in under 10 hours. Now, as names and addresses are processed, we can strip off the model scores and finish the decile and percentile processing in less time than it would have taken to obtain the model scores using our previous process. We also use DMExpress for a number of other projects. For one data processing project, we imported data to the mainframe, scheduled the job, ran the processing and output the data to a flat file. All of this occurred while other processes ran on the mainframe - which would cause the entire job to take two to three days to complete. Using DMExpress, we were able to completely remove the mainframe from the process and complete the job in less than 20 minutes.

STRENGTHS: The principal benefit of DMExpress is speed. Now, we can receive the required files on Tuesday and be done with the report by Thursday. Another tremendous benefit is ease of use. In some cases, staff can proficiently use the application without receiving weeks of training.

WEAKNESSES: We would like to see XML layouts and formats. Another item that I've been discussing with technical support is the ability to write logs to database files. Right now, we can only view logs through the graphical user interface. Running queries against those logs would be extremely valuable. From my discussions with technical support, I believe these requests will be addressed in a future release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Syncsort provided a free proof of concept (POC), which enabled us to evaluate DMExpress in our own environment and in real time. From the POC, we were able to measure the improvement DMExpress would provide in our decile/percentile process. After experiencing a 98 percent decrease in elapsed time, we determined that DMExpress would provide major performance benefits not only in this one situation, but also across many other projects.

DELIVERABLES: Using DMExpress, we are now able to pull model scores and run decile/percentile processing on a vast amount of data. Also, the speed with which it finishes data processing affords us the ability to create weekly reports for our clients.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Syncsort's tech support has been outstanding. From the very start - the POC - to our weekly chats, I don't think I've worked with a technical support group that has been as attentive and provided the level of answers that this group has provided. They are just fantastic.

DOCUMENTATION: The product help menu provides the basics, but I typically use technical support on a regular basis.

Syncsort Corporation
50 Tice Boulevard
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677
(201) 930-9700

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