REVIEWER: Joe Stell, director of IS, Naturally Fresh.
BACKGROUND: Founded in 1969, Naturally Fresh is a manufacturer of fresh products that include salad dressings, fruit and vegetable dips, and marinades and sauces. The company produces 25,000 gallons of products daily and processes more than 300 tons of fresh vegetables annually at its 250,000 square foot production plant. Naturally Fresh distributes products from its 27 distribution centers to hundreds of grocery outlets and food service customers nationwide.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle 9i database servers, SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Reporting Services and Windows 2003.
PROBLEM SOLVED: My IT staff runs numerous reports and analyses for the company. However, running reports was a time-consuming process and took several hours or days, depending on the type of report. Prior to building our data warehouse, we used Microsoft Access to run reports that included gross margin analysis based on current year versus prior year, sales by products, sales by salesman and many others. As the business grew, Access couldn't keep up with our reporting needs. For instance, after creating a report, we had to send an updated application to each of our 80 users, and they had to download the file every time a change or new report was issued. This would take hours or days, and it inevitably led to inaccurate data being used.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: RED is used to prototype, design, build, enhance and maintain our data warehouse. We selected RED after WhereScape designed a proof-of-concept data warehouse with our own data in just a day. Our data warehouse project team, consisting of IT members, our CFO and vice president of sales, was impressed by the speed and accuracy of the model presented. It not only helped us understand the type of data warehouse we needed to design, as opposed to a theoretical model on paper, but it solidified buy-in from upper management for the project. This prototype resulted in a well-specified, accurately sized and budgeted project. What really impressed us was how quickly we built our data warehouse with RED - less than two months. The consolidated data gathered using RED now allows us to run reports in 20 minutes or less, which used to take hours or days. I can now post the reports on the Web for easy access for authorized users. With RED, data rates also are faster than ever because we can build multidimensional cubes by leveraging Microsoft Analysis Services.
STRENGTHS: RED vastly reduces coding and testing time between 10 to 30 percent and provides a built-in scheduler that is used to maintain the ongoing data load process. This tight integration within RED made the deployment process - from prototype to production environment - much faster and eliminated using another tool to schedule and run the nightly data loads. RED also automated the process of documenting the data warehouse. RED documents everything automatically based on the current state of the data warehouse (rather than someone's memory of an outdated design). RED gave us one unified view of our sales and marketing data, reduced our data warehouse enhancement and development costs and allowed our IT staff to be more productive.
WEAKNESSES: Not all of the functionality is covered in the user manual, and the screenshots are not up to date. Also, many of the product questions we had during development were not addressed in the WhereScape forums.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Our criteria included finding a solution that we could use to build, enhance and maintain our data warehouse quickly, easily and affordably. RED met all those criteria.
DELIVERABLES: Our data warehouse allows us to run numerous reports, varying in complexity, on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis in significantly less time than before. Now, our users have access to the most up-to-date reports so they can make the best decisions.
VENDOR SUPPORT: WhereScape fully understood all of our requirements for a data warehouse before implementation even began as a result of their rapid prototyping capabilities. After implementation, they have been very responsive and knowledgeable.
DOCUMENTATION: WhereScape provided a 300-plus page manual on how to get started, but the functionality was covered lightly and hard to locate. We found it best to just call their support team, who walked us through the installation.
3350 Riverwood Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30339
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