BACKGROUND: A wholly owned subsidiary of the National Bank of Canada, SIBN is an IT consulting firm that provides global electronic financial solutions to businesses across Canada. Ranking sixth among Canada's chartered banks, the National Bank is the leading banking institution in the province of Quebec and the bank of choice for independent businesses. Its assets exceed $70 billion (Canada).

PLATFORMS: Hummingbird Genio 3.1 is installed on NT Server with Oracle used as the repository. Information is accessed from a Sybase database running on the RISC 6000 platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As a result of internal Y2K testing, a decision was made two years ago to entirely rewrite the bank's mainframe-based GL using SmartStream from Geac Corp. When problems occurred in the reporting process, we switched in midstream and opted to use Hyperion Essbase instead. Obviously, the time line was a major problem for us, as was the fact we had to quickly find a data manipulation tool that was easy to learn and provided full API-level support for Essbase. We'd heard about Genio and been impressed when we received a demonstration earlier at the Arbor Software user conference in San Francisco. The application turned out to be extremely stable.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: First of all, we had to match tables, build an Essbase structure, read the structures from the GL and then create the cube. For structures, we had to be very flexible because we had to merge fields. We had to have a specific output so that Essbase could understand it. We could create documentation very easily through Genio. It allowed us to write commands, and it could automatically tell us who changed the program and when it changed. When we acquired the tool, it would only work on the NT platform. Now it has greater functionality. This is very important. When we have to manipulate a large amount of data, we need to work with multiple platforms.

STRENGTHS: The strength is that data quality is assured through centralized management of matching, merging and integrating data from many disparate sources. If tomorrow, we decided to use another database, all we would have to do is change the connection and it would be up and running. We just have to learn one tool, and we can access and manipulate any database. We never know which database we're going to have to access. Since we have DB2, Oracle and Sybase, I didn't want my team to be experts in all those products. The key was to be able to access the information. Once someone knows Genio, they can work on many databases and many platforms very easily.

WEAKNESSES: The product is still young and the navigation between windows sometimes can be a problem. Before the latest version, there was only an NT version which was a detractor, but that has since changed with UNIX platforms now being supported.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We only tested one product, and we were satisfied with the results of the tests that we did. We had a choice of staying with the old language or going with a next- generation tool. We had to make a decision quickly and Genio answered our needs.

DELIVERABLES: In terms of a data quality, we achieved what we were looking for and met the scheduled deadline.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Since the transition from Leonard's Logic to Hummingbird occurred in March 1999, Hummingbird has become more organized, streamlined and proactive. Our primary contact was TechOLAP, a consulting company based in Montreal, and they were able to provide the support that we needed.

DOCUMENTATION: I think the documentation could have more material with more specific examples. It needs more meat.

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