BACKGROUND: McLeodUSA, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a provider of integrated telecommunications services to business and residential customers in ten states. McLeodUSA Publishing Company, a subsidiary of McLeodUSA, will this year distribute over 16 million copies of white and yellow page telephone directories in 20 states, reaching a population of more than 27 million people.

PLATFORMS: PLATINUM InfoPump supports the Windows NT 4.0 operating system. Unlike other data routing and replication products which are focused in specific data formats, InfoPump is a fully open technology that offers database and platform independence.

PROBLEM SOLVED: McLeodUSA was faced with the challenge of enabling its sales organization to easily access mission-critical applications and data on its AS/400 system. McLeodUSA sales representatives and IT staff needed to access and control large amounts of critical sales, ordering and contact information existing on disparate databases in order to integrate it with new information for accurate reporting. Since implementing PLATINUM InfoPump to automate data movement between dissimilar data types, McLeodUSA's data is replicated in near real time and incorporated into sales reports, providing the sales organization the most up-to-date and accurate information.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: InfoPump's automation features and ability to power bi-directional data transformation and movement has streamlined the data management process for McLeodUSA, ensuring end users on both the AS/400 and client/server systems access to accurate data regardless of the system from which revisions originated.

STRENGTHS: InfoPump provides transformation and movement of data between multiple heterogeneous databases. The system's extensive data manipulation capabilities, including the automatic transformation of data types, enabled McLeodUSA to maintain maximum control over the company's operational data, while effectively meeting business reporting requirements. Additionally, InfoPump's extensibility and MS Mail interface enabled McLeodUSA to implement transaction monitoring, and its flexible scripting language significantly reduced development time and cost.

WEAKNESSES: One drawback of the software setup is the housing of the InfoPump database in SQL Server, which adds some complexity. McLeodUSA would prefer to have a more homogenous database setup on the PC side. McLeodUSA is planning to upgrade to InfoPump 3.1 and use Oracle as the database.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After a formal review of its mainframe environment, McLeodUSA's IT organization determined that end users required a more flexible, easy-to-use, PC-based system with client/server technology. Additionally, the company required a method that would allow users to input updated data in a system less complex than AS/400, but that still would update production AS/400 data directly. By replicating data into the Oracle database from the AS/400, McLeodUSA could reduce the risk to mission-critical data. Finally, McLeodUSA needed a solution that would allow its IT group to offset the transaction load of the application and any future client/server applications, so that it may prevent the need to immediately upgrade the company's AS/400 system, saving the company money, risk and time.

DELIVERABLES: InfoPump enables all data changes to be reflected in both of McLeodUSA's systems in near real time, allowing end users to access the most up-to-date information possible and generate quality sales leads. By providing this two-way movement, McLeodUSA can control the replication of data on both systems, while adapting to the needs of both the sales and IT organizations. By automating the process of moving and integrating dissimilar types of data, the solution is saving McLeodUSA time and resources. As well, the solution provides automatic scheduling and request execution, giving McLeodUSA an edge over its competition by enabling end users to leverage timely and accurate competitive information from the company's AS/400 or PC-based systems for report generation and sales leads.

VENDOR SUPPORT: A PLATINUM consultant was dedicated to helping McLeodUSA install, configure and test InfoPump and then train users.

DOCUMENTATION: InfoPump's documentation is detailed and helpful.

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