BACKGROUND: Mitchell Grocery Corporation is a wholesale grocery operation, supplying a complete line of food products to approximately 300 independent retail stores in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi. We receive and ship an average of 50 to 60 truckloads of product each day. Most of our purchase orders to our suppliers and invoices from those suppliers are electronically transmitted through electronic data interchange (EDI).

PLATFORMS: DataMirror Transformation Server is currently running on an IBM AS/400 model 500 and a Dell PowerEdge 4300 NT SQL Server running Microsoft SQL Server 7.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We use R.F. Communications units to scan incoming product to our warehouse. The product ordering process originates on our IBM AS/400 computer and is downloaded to one of our NT SQL Servers. Once there, the incoming product is scanned and recorded. On completion of any given purchase order, the data is sent back to the AS/400. The inventory is then updated and accounting functions take place. Before we implemented DataMirror Transformation Server, someone had to stop what they were doing to do a manual download from the AS/400 to the NT SQL Server and then manually upload the completed data back to the AS/400. Having someone knowledgeable and available at all times was a problem.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataMirror Transformation Server runs transparently on both servers, and it is running extremely well. We don't have to do anything to move the product data between our AS/400 and the NT Server. We plan to continue with DataMirror and add many other applications that will require Transformation Server as a key infrastructure element.

STRENGTHS: Transformation Server is very reliable, easy to use and enables the sharing of data between heterogeneous platforms. We also use the DataMirror product for its real-time capabilities which enable the continuous flow of product data between our AS/400 and NT servers. The product has many other helpful features including selection, filtering and transformation capabilities. But mostly, Transformation Server operates transparently within our computing environments. The software does not require anything of us to move the data bidirectionally between AS/400 and Windows NT.

WEAKNESSES: There is very little to complain about with DataMirror Transformation Server. When we have a need to shut down replication, we sometimes have a little difficulty bringing it back up. If the message queue fills up on the AS/400, the DataMirror product requires that we clear some space for the messages.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We were originally advised to use a similar product from a different vendor; but after several months, neither we nor the vendor could get their product installed and functioning on our servers. The Transformation Server product was relatively easy to install and configure.

DELIVERABLES: We need to transfer product-ordering data continuously between the AS/400 and NT servers. Once the data is replicated in real time to the target NT server, we use the data for various business applications, reporting and analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The DataMirror support team was very helpful during and after the installation. We did have some initial difficulty when we attempted to configure the software ourselves, but the DataMirror team was very helpful and even came on site. DataMirror also offers online support; however, we have not yet taken full advantage of it because we have not needed much assistance with the product since its implementation. That's the best part about Transformation Server. The fact that it's reliable ensures that we can maintain our daily development routine without any delays. We know we can count on DataMirror support should there be a disruption to our computing environment.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for Transformation Server is complete and easy to understand. Although we initially made some mistakes with the installation and were not sure how to continue, the support team was there to help us. The documentation allows us to run our production systems smoothly, contributing to a well-maintained and efficient ordering system.

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