BACKGROUND: Direct List Technology, Inc. is a leading service-oriented provider of quality mailing lists and accurate data processing services. Headquartered in Anaheim, California, Direct List is a technologically advanced company that works to ensure flexibility and the capability to match the growing needs of their valued customers.

PLATFORMS: Direct List is running the OMNIDEX database search engine version 3.5 in a Windows NT environment to access flat files. OMNIDEX also enhances multiple databases including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Informix, Sybase, RMS, C-ISAM and IMAGE/SQL and runs on numerous platforms including HP9000/HP-UX, Sun/Solaris, IBM/AIX, Sequent/Dynix, Digital/UNIX, HP3000/MPE and UNIX clients.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The growing demand for list fulfillment coincided with performance issues when it came to delivering lists to Direct List's customers in a timely manner. Sales associates would have to submit each client's specified criteria to the IS department and wait at least 24 hours for a qualified count. In the case that the count was too broad or too narrow, the criteria would have to be resubmitted and the process would start all over again. Often, it could take up to a whole week in order to tailor the list to the customer's needs. This was unacceptable. Direct List needed a tool that would enable instant access to data allowing the sales force to fulfill a client's list needs more rapidly.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Direct List turned to DISC, the makers of the OMNIDEX database search engine, to help create an environment that would enable them to reap the benefits of real-time data access. Direct List now leverages OMNIDEX to access their 90 million rows of data stored in a flat file on a Windows NT platform. With the advanced indexing technology of OMNIDEX, sales associates enter order criteria directly into the system and instantly receive a qualified count. They then have the ability to further narrow or broaden the criteria in order to match the client's desired count ­ all accomplished while the customer is on the phone. In a few months, Direct List will deploy OMNIDEX for the Web to enable direct customer access to list fulfillment through the Internet. OMNIDEX will be the performance gateway that gives clients instant access to householding data. They will enter criteria and make the purchase online ­ without ever needing to speak to a sales associate.

STRENGTHS: OMNIDEX solves even complex queries by accessing only its indexes. It minimizes I/O by performing counts at the index level only, without accessing the underlying database. The database is accessed only when the user wants to view the detail data, using fast, indexed access so the system remains highly available for other users. OMNIDEX cures the problem at the source, slashing disk I/O that is the root of performance problems. Rather than trying to make I/O faster, as hardware options do, OMNIDEX eliminates I/O.

WEAKNESSES: Since the implementation deadline was only a few weeks long, Direct List chose to use DISC's "out of box" front-end tool, Query Perfect. It was lacking about 10 percent of the features for Direct List's business need. However, the OMNIDEX ODBC driver enables it to be compatible with all the latest front-end tools. Direct List will soon be utilizing OMNIDEX with a Web interface that will be customized to meet their needs.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Direct List sought a tool that would produce an instant qualified count while working in a Windows NT environment. The speed of OMNIDEX could not be matched by another database or database tool on the market that we tested. After seeing the speed of the evaluation benchmarks, the choice was simple.

DELIVERABLES: In addition to the number of OMNIDEX compatible databases and platforms, OMNIDEX also has an ODBC driver enabling users to utilize the latest and greatest reporting and analysis tools.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DISC's support was excellent. Not only did they get OMNIDEX at Direct List into production promptly, but they also made sure the users were well prepared to utilize the technology.

DOCUMENTATION: The OMNIDEX documentation provided by DISC is very thorough and detailed.

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