BACKGROUND: Birmingham Cable runs the United Kingdom's largest single cable franchise and is widely recognized as one of the country's leading telecommunications providers. To date, the company has invested almost £350 million to build a state-of-the-art network that is delivering advanced telecommunication, information and entertainment services in Birmingham and Solihull. The main network is complete and currently more than 470,000 homes and businesses in the franchise area have access to Birmingham Cable's communication services. More than 130,000 residential customers and 8,000 businesses now enjoy the benefits of these services.

PLATFORMS: We are running PowerCenter on AIX 4.2 on IBM RS/6000 and SP2 servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Birmingham Cable needed to migrate its customer data from a subscriber management system (SMS) supplied by Cabledata, called Intelicable, to Cablemaster from CBIS. The data transformation process needed to be automated, consistent and swift. Having examined the options for performing the conversion, Birmingham Cable turned to Informatica's PowerCenter to facilitate the extraction and transformation of the legacy system's data onto a new OS/400 platform running DB2. PowerCenter's automated capabilities, coupled with its ease of use, allowed a small group of developers to complete the migration project on time.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We were impressed with the breadth of functionality offered by Informatica's PowerCenter product. The time demands of this particular project made PowerCenter's automated capabilities and ease of use especially valuable. PowerCenter's benefits allowed us to rapidly move data around, and the skills required to use PowerCenter were relatively basic. The product is very intuitive and graphical.

In the future, we will be looking to PowerCenter to help us introduce data marts which will feed into neural network technology to help us answer and analyze specific high-level business questions.

STRENGTHS: PowerCenter is fast and reliable with incredible functionality. Because we had few people who were proficient with PL/SQL programming and knowledgeable of the database layout, we needed a solution that would compensate for this deficiency. PowerCenter's intuitive graphical interface enabled staff with basic programming skills to get the job done quickly and easily. In addition, the speed of development using PowerCenter was 10 times faster than trying to generate something in a 3GL equivalent. The bottom line is that the product had paid for itself within a few months of purchase.

WEAKNESSES: We had minor problems upgrading session details from one point release to the next point release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Following rigorous testing of the product, including a proof-of-concept scenario, we decided that Informatica's PowerCenter was a fast, reliable solution that could best meet our needs. We were confident that PowerCenter could provide us with the functionality required. The product is light years ahead of the manual process of writing SQL scripts.

DELIVERABLES: The high-level deliverable that PowerCenter has provided is a centralized repository which maintained Birmingham Cable's business rules enabling the conversion. In addition, the tangible deliverable was a successful conversion in the time frame required.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Informatica provided effective and timely support throughout the implementation process. We were particularly impressed with the professionalism of Informatica's support staff and their ability to quickly troubleshoot technical issues, as well as address the project within a wider business context.

DOCUMENTATION: Informatica provides complete and easy-to-understand product manuals. However, because of our experience with the product, we have not had to rely on the documentation. The user can figure out the functionality of the product by working with it. It is very intuitive.

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