REVIEWER: Gene Brothers, Chief Technology Officer for Oxlo Systems.

BACKGROUND: The Oxlo Automotive Retail Integration Network is a robust platform - software, hardware and services - that is improving the many business processes at work in the automotive retail market. The Oxlo Retail Integration Network streamlines these processes, making them more efficient and effective. The growing list of automakers, lenders, dealer system providers and dealers actively connected to the Oxlo Retail Integration Network makes introducing new business processes significantly easier than alternative methods.

PLATFORMS: Intel platform with Windows Server 2003 in a Class A data center.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Business analytics is a key part of the Oxlo Automotive Retail Integration Network. We needed a technology platform to collect vast amounts of data to support our business analytics. The data collection required Web navigation with form submission across a large number of Web sites that would take days, possibly weeks to perform. This would be prohibitively expensive to execute, even with an efficient human workflow in place. The QL2 Integration Platform executes this process in a matter of minutes with no human interaction, providing critical data for improved analytics, leading to more efficient business processes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The QL2 Integration Platform allows us to automate our data collection and integration tasks to support higher quality business analytics. Using the QL2 Software WebQL Desktop tool, we can create scripts that extract unstructured and semistructured data, primarily from Web sites, and integrate that data into our internal .NET framework. The QL2 Integration Platform supports the data formats we need such as PDF, HTML and XML. Our previous solutions lacked support for all of these formats. This expanded format support gave us an immediate ability to automatically collect data we could not previously collect - resulting in a huge ROI. Additionally, the QL2 development team is flexible, so when we encounter new Web technologies or data formats, they are quick to make the necessary enhancements to the QL2 Integration Platform.

STRENGTHS: First of all, support for all the popular data formats was critical. The QL2 Integration Platform supported everything we needed plus many others we may require in the future. Secondly, the QL2 Integration Platform is a high-performance solution that is extremely scalable. It does not require a huge investment in incremental hardware as we grow our business. Furthermore, it handles all the complexity of dealing with multithreaded, multiprocessor application execution. All we have to do is tell it where to go and what information we want. Finally, the QL2 Integration Platform is very reliable. We were concerned about building our solution on a third-party platform. This has proven to be a nonissue.

WEAKNESSES: The QL2 Integration Platform could benefit from better debugging tools and better documentation, but the responsiveness of QL2's support team more than compensates for these weaknesses.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Many of the products considered met our base requirements. The format support, scalability and flexibility of the QL2 Integration Platform were huge pluses as they enabled us to adapt quickly with the changing requirements of our Web integrations. Its .NET programming interface and zero Java dependencies were also big factors.

DELIVERABLES: The QL2 Integration Platform extracts vast amounts of data from the Web and other unstructured or semistructured data sources at high speed and integrates it with our existing internal data and applications to support our business analytics and business processes.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Through the entire implementation, we found QL2 Software's support services to be responsive and competent. During the initial development of our scripts, QL2 Software provided fast and professional services, including thorough and professional on-site training courses. Ongoing support is provided on a 24x7 basis either online or by telephone. This is critical to keeping our solution running nonstop.

DOCUMENTATION: QL2 Software's documentation is useful, but we feel it could be more complete in some areas. Only on a few occasions have we needed to contact them for additional information, and when we have, QL2's support team was extremely responsive and helpful. This is crucial when a vendor's software platform is a critical building block to the services you are providing to customers.

QL2 Integration Platform
QL2 Software, Inc.
316 Occidental Ave. S., Suite 410
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 443-6836

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