REVIEWER: Jean-Claude Pommier, database administration manager for New Reinsurance Company.
BACKGROUND: Founded in Zurich in 1926, New Reinsurance Company (New Re) provides property, casualty and life reinsurance for Europe's sophisticated and growing markets. Part of Munich Re Group, a world leader in financial services with a staff of more than 6,400 at 60 offices and subsidiaries around the world, New Re prides itself on its operational excellence in back-office procedures and resulting cost advantages.
PLATFORMS: Windows running Oracle databases.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Managing the complexity of data in the risk insurance business can be a daunting task - especially when you need to close your books and integrate relevant information into your SAP system within 15 days of the close of business each quarter. As if this challenge wasn't enough, our reporting procedures must adhere to strict IAS and Swiss-GAAP accounting standards. Until recently, to meet this challenge, New Re modified and maintained manually developed data transfer programs to integrate information from several business applications, human resource systems and financial systems. Committed to eliminating the tedious and time-consuming manual transformation processes and to ensure higher data quality, New Re began assessing data integration products. The chosen product had to allow us to extract data from specific business applications and then import the data into our SAP application. That data would then be further transformed and extracted from one SAP application and then consolidated again to be loaded into another SAP module. The product needed to be able to properly manage the complex calculations performed at each step of the data reparation and consolidation. We were also hoping that the chosen product would help facilitate the deployment of inter-application interfaces.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: After assessing multiple data integration solutions, New Re selected Sunopsis for several key reasons. The product's highly productive user interface allowed us to quickly model data exchange processes along with all transformation rules. We were able to easily import source and target structures and define the mapping of data between them. Plus, Sunopsis' unique architecture - use of the RDBMS engines already in place to conduct the processing - and native code generation made the product very easy to use and did not require us to purchase any dedicated hardware. Additionally, the product's centralized development repository, complete cross-referencing capabilities and automatic generation of project documentation meant it was not only easy to perform the necessary transformations, but it was also very easy to manage ongoing processes.
STRENGTHS: The product's flexibility is its greatest strength. Plus, its intuitive and highly productive interface made it easy to learn and use the product. Sunopsis' ability to morph complex and changing environments and needs is extraordinary. With Sunopsis, we no longer dread receiving new application integration requests. We are now able to effectively manage the complexity of creating and maintaining new interfaces. As a result, the IT department is now able to respond to business needs much more efficiently. In fact, projects that previously took us months now take us days.
WEAKNESSES: We found that given the complexity of our processes, the layout of Sunopsis' development environment is not very user friendly and required us to jump back and forth between several windows to define our interfaces. Sunopsis told us they would be addressing this concern in the next major release.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Historically, we manually coded our data integration processes. When searching for a data integration solution, we also looked at BusinessObjects Data Integrator because we used BusinessObjects for business intelligence. Sunopsis was selected for its ease of use, flexibility of deployment and the fact that no dedicated server was required.
DELIVERABLES: Using Sunopsis, we are able to increase our productivity fivefold. We now have more than half of our inter-application interfaces completed using Sunopsis. With Sunopsis, we have much better control over our data integration needs. From a business perspective, the IT team is now able to respond to changing business needs much more efficiently and effectively. Sunopsis provides us incredible value.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Pre- and post-implementation vendor support was excellent. We continue to receive great support and valuable input from the Sunopsis team when tackling new projects.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is very good. However, given the complex nature of our transformations, we often needed assistance in defining the best approach to meet our needs.
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