BACKGROUND:3Com Corporation, a leading global networking company, has more than 200 million customers worldwide. 3Com provides information access products and network system solutions to large, medium and small enterprises; carriers and network service providers; PC OEMs; and consumers. The global information systems department is implementing a next generation data warehouse project as a new hardware and software platform with a new architecture. This project delivers decision support to the entire corporation. The team of 25 includes project managers, business analysts, architects, data modelers, developers and database administrators. All members of the team are experienced in data warehousing and OLAP.

PLATFORM: Informatica's products run on Windows 95/NT and UNIX and support IBM DB/2, Informix, Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server, IMS, VSAM, ODBC, flat-file and other operational sources. 3Com is currently running PowerCenter 1.5 on Sun Solaris ES10000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Due to the size and complexity of its enterprise environment, 3Com needed to build an enterprise-wide data warehouse infrastructure that allowed for integration of disparate data sources to enable advanced analysis. Information is being gathered globally from POS, channel inventory and operational information from SAP on a continual basis. 3Com realized that a robust and scalable infrastructure needed to be in place that would provide data integrity and common data definitions to bring order to the data and ensure that reliable and consistent data was fueling the analysis that would eventually end up in the hands of decision-makers.

FUNCTIONALITY: Informatica's PowerCenter 1.5 extracts 3Com's data from SAP and PeopleSoft applications three times a day. After transformation and optimization, PowerCenter loads the data into an Informix Enterprise data warehouse. 3Com then uses a Hyperion Solutions Essbase server with Business Objects business intelligence tools to analyze the data, turning it into valuable reports for 3Com executives. Informatica's PowerCenter acts as a data integration hub for 3Com's enterprise environment by pulling raw data from the ERP systems and optimizing it for high-level analysis. With this enterprise infrastructure, enabled by Informatica's PowerCenter, 3Com's IT department is able to provide top-level executives with more valuable business information. Additionally, the enterprise infrastructure allows the IT department to deliver this information faster and on a more reliable basis than ever before. In the future, 3Com will standardize all data movement flows within 3Com with PowerCenter as well as Informatica's PowerMart, thereby streamlining its operations and development life cycles.

STRENGTHS: The overarching strength of PowerCenter 1.5 is its simplicity. Informatica gives 3Com the ability to optimize data for analysis while performing complex transformations.

WEAKNESSES: 3Com developers quickly realized that the development paradigm had changed and they needed to adapt to a new way of developing data movement transformations. Although this was covered in training, we found that the documentation was not addressing the transition thoroughly. Performance tuning was also an issue in the early stages of the project.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Informatica was chosen over other products because it could run on UNIX or NT and was incredibly easy to use and deploy. Informatica's PowerCenter was the only product to meet 3Com's requirements and complement its infrastructure.

DELIVERABLES: All 3Com executives receive predetermined reports generated from the decision support system via a Web browser. The data warehouse provides business intelligence to the entire corporation. Information delivery occurs via Business Objects Web Intelligence and Wired for OLAP.

VENDOR SUPPORT: 3Com has established an exceptional relationship with Informatica. Informatica delivers excellent customer service and technical support. Informatica supported 3Com on building meta data bridges between its different information repositories so users, business analysts and developers have access to the detailed meta data in a central PLATINUM Open Edition repository.

DOCUMENTATION: The materials that accompany PowerCenter are clear and easy to understand.

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