CATEGORY: DW Design, Administration & Management

REVIEWER: Janet Jones, software engineer for Pacific Life.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1868, Pacific Life Insurance Company provides life and health insurance products, individual annuities and group employee benefits, and offers a variety of investment products and services to individuals, businesses and pension plans.

PLATFORMS: We are running MetaCenter 1.5 from Data Advantage Group on a Microsoft 2000 server with Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) as the Web server. We are using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 to browse our meta data repositories.

PROBLEM SOLVED: MetaCenter provides a centralized meta data management solution that will give us the necessary up-to-the-minute information we need to operate efficiently. Prior to implementing this solution, we were storing meta data with simple spreadsheets and documents in a decentralized manner. This method was very inefficient and difficult to manage. With MetaCenter, we are now able to manage our meta data environment in a centralized, readily available manner.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: MetaCenter provides an easy-to-use interface which gives us a view across all our meta data repositories. We currently run mainframe jobs to provide source files for our ETL processes which are handled with Informatica's PowerCenter 5.1. Because of MetaCenter's seamless integration with Informatica, we were able to view and analyze our entire ETL process from mainframe to target. We are also making extensive use of MetaCenter Objects to capture information from our SQL Server data dictionary, mainframe processes and ERwin data models. In addition to real-time access to our repositories, MetaCenter will make the task of distributing this information to the user effortless. We are eagerly awaiting the release of MetaCenter 2.0 to take advantage of its integration with ERwin.

STRENGTHS: A key strength of MetaCenter is the visibility and analytics it provides all our users, technical and business, across our diverse application set. We were able to easily capture all of our meta data by utilizing MetaCenter's Web portal for meta data analysis and reporting. Additionally, the ability to logically link different physical objects enabled us to perform end-to-end impact analysis across multiple application repositories. Finally, the ability to import all of our meta data from existing documents was invaluable, saving us time with setup and allowing us to quickly utilize the more advanced features of MetaCenter.

WEAKNESSES: The main weakness is its lack of support for a number of different applications. Although it is not fully integrated with SQL Server, the technical consultant assigned to our install worked very cl! osely with us to capture everything we needed from our environment using MetaCenter Objects. Their ability to provide timely, usable workarounds has made this transparent.

SELECTION CRITERIA: There are actually two reasons we selected MetaCenter. The first reason is how MetaCenter was integrated using native application APIs. This provided a major advantage over other products in the marketplace. By utilizing this type of architecture, MetaCenter eliminates synchronization and data redundancy issues found with competing software packages. The second reason was the seamless integration with our ETL and case modeling applications. This provided an immediate analytical toolset we could not find anywhere else. Coupled with the ability to customize the repository to capture the information we require, MetaCenter gave us the end-to-end solution we were looking for.

DELIVERABLES: MetaCenter is used to provide an immediate, up- to-the-second view of our meta data, from business-user specifications to mainframe jobs to ETL processes. This information is used to perform impact analysis across our data warehouse as well as to provide a centralized, searchable library for all users in our organization.

VENDOR SUPPORT: It has been great to work with Data Advantage Group. Their customer-centric approach to adding new functionality and enhancements is exceptional. We are very excited to be a MetaCenter customer as they have proven they are dedicated to customer service as well as to providing a top- notch meta data solution. When technical issues arise, we are guaranteed immediate attention from not only their support staff, but also our technical sales consultant. We were recently affected by a code-red virus, and Data Advantage Group was there to help us recover our MetaCenter environment.

DOCUMENTATION: We were able to easily install the client application using the simple install wizard provided with the install CD. The hard-copy documentation was ample for installing and configuring the Web portal component. Online documentation is also provided to answer day-to- day questions about MetaCenter.

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