PLATFORMS: OmniEnterprise products provide heterogeneous, bi-directional data sharing between DB2, Oracle, Sybase, Informix and MS SQL Server databases.

BACKGROUND: St. Petersburg, Florida-based Danka is one of the world's largest and fastest growing independent suppliers of copiers, network printers, fax machines and imaging services. About half of Danka's 20,000 employees work in the Office Imaging group.

PROBLEM SOLVED: A few years ago, Danka determined it could benefit by deploying a data warehouse to analyze information on more than 125,000 customers. The customer data, including customer order, installation and billing information, resided on an IBM S/390 under DB2. We wanted to move the information to an Oracle data warehouse on an IBM RS/6000 system to increase flexibility and facilitate improved data access for business analysis. Using an enterprise data movement solution from Praxis International, we have been able to measure and improve customer satisfaction while operating with a leaner IS staff.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: OmniEnterprise is an integrated, simplified set of movement methods for sharing and managing information across the enterprise, regardless of the mix of hardware, operating systems, DBMSs and data structures. It offers automated updated anywhere replication, snapshot copy management and automated table extract and load alternatives, all with optional data enhancement. At the heart of OmniEnterprise is the Enterprise Information Sharing Model (EISM). This model, created through and integrated by a single management console, OmniDirector, is the key to achieving automated enterprise-wide data sharing. Using the EISM, data models are mapped to business rules to determine what, where and how they should be distributed.

STRENGTHS: OmniEnterprise offers automatic scheduling, monitoring, ease of maintenance and stability. It allows us to have accurate and up-to-date information where and when we need it.

WEAKNESSES: Our first version of OmniEnterprise didn't include OmniDirector, the graphical interface and management console, which enables ease of implementation and management of data movement. Subsequently, we have received an updated version that includes OmniDirector.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered a number of factors in our evaluation including: a requirement for near real-time movement capabilities, a flexible management capability to allow database administrators to easily map data models to business rules and change data models quickly, and the ability to work with different databases should others besides DB2 and Oracle be used in the future.

DELIVERABLES: OmniEnterprise has improved our management efficiency, decreased maintenance and allowed our managers to query further into our application for more history and detail. OmniEnterprise is an integral component of our data warehousing strategy that gives our users corporate-wide information access. In some cases the replication process took only a few hours to accomplish using OmniEnterprise, where it would have taken a day or more in the past. More complex replications were trimmed from month-long C program projects to a few days. As an additional benefit, we've also gained a high degree of data recoverability. If information doesn't replicate successfully, it stays in the metabase. You can easily fix the problem and start back up.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Praxis offers implementation and ongoing support of its products. Its consultants have demonstrated expertise in the product and in learning our business needs.

DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation was clear and easy to follow. The company provides both hard and CD-based documentation.

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