BACKGROUND: Independence Blue Cross (IBC) is a leading health insurance provider that processes more than 9.5 million claims and responds to more than 3.4 million customer inquiries every year.
PLATFORMS: Move for Servers from Princeton Softech runs on UNIX Solaris 2.6 and 2.7 with Oracle 7.3.4, 8.0.5 and 8.1.6.
PROBLEM SOLVED: To keep pace with exploding demands in member services, claims processing and patient care management programming, we needed to improve our data extract process to speed application development and deployment. Ever-present space limitations made it impractical to clone production databases just for testing purposes; and we were losing time writing, testing and debugging customized data extract programs. We required intelligent subsets of production data to thoroughly test and deliver new applications. It was difficult to create a realistic subset of our Oracle database because there are many obscure relationships that connect the data items, making it difficult to discern and manipulate related information. Even though some of our applications contained as few as 15 tables or as many as 250, they had enough relationships to make technical objectives hard to achieve.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Move for Servers allows IBC to extract relationally intact data from huge Oracle databases, providing a realistic testing environment that helps us rapidly develop applications, giving us a competitive advantage. We look forward to using Princeton Softech's Compare for Servers, which will be available later this year, to compare relationally intact subsets of data in a single view, clearly highlighting what has changed, row by row, and identifying where there are changes to related rows in other tables.
STRENGTHS: Move for Servers is a client/server product that extracts data from many interrelated tables in a single pass of the database which significantly enhances performance. We have found the product easy to use, and it significantly reduces the amount of time and effort that our DBAs spend on testing. We've improved the quality of our applications, met challenging schedules and delivered working production code on time. The high-quality test data produced by Move for Servers helps avoid costly system outages by uncovering problems that can be fixed before the code is placed into production. Without Move for Servers, testing in our environment would be an impossible task.
WEAKNESSES: The error messages on the data insert were difficult to find and very cryptic. This has been fixed in a subsequent release of the product by providing user control over the type and amount of specific errors to be reported and by including these messages in the data insert report itself.
SELECTION CRITERIA: IBC sought high- quality test data. The size of the test database needed to be small to accommodate space constraints, yet it needed to be a realistic subset of the production database to maintain IBC's high-quality testing standards when extracting complex mission-critical relational data. Move for Servers was clearly the superior relational data extraction and transformation tool of the two we evaluated both in terms of performance and its ability to maintain referential integrity regardless of the complexity of our Oracle database.
DELIVERABLES: Move for Servers creates realistic subsets of test data that simulate production conditions, complete with samples of all relationships used by the application assembled in a cohesive way. The databases are small enough to enable rapid test runs, yet large enough to contain special test cases and boundary conditions. This improved the speed and quality of our Oracle application testing and enabled us to access the data we need to support our business objectives. Move for Servers automatically finds the relationships from the Oracle Data Dictionary for those relationships defined to the DBMS. Move for Servers accounts for our "application-managed" relationships, which are those relationships that are not defined to the DBMS, but rather implemented within the logic of IBC's applications. Our DBAs and developers quickly and easily refresh the test database, maintaining consistency during the testing process. Move for Servers eliminates the requirement for testers to understand all the relationships throughout the database.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Princeton Softech's technical support specialists have set an incredibly high standard of expertise and responsiveness that we haven't seen in other software companies.
DOCUMENTATION: The first release of the product shipped with a usage guide that I rarely used, because I found the product so user friendly and self-explanatory. The latest release came with a much larger, more extensive manual.
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