BACKGROUND: With three full-time staff members and three auxiliary support personnel, Stanford's Data Warehousing Services provides the university with reliable data about students, employees, funding and university projects. Using PowerMart 4.5, Stanford populates its decision support data marts with information from approximately 15 legacy systems. Many campus organizations benefit from the information housed in the data marts. For example, Data Warehousing Services delivers data about previous class offerings, student interests and faculty workload all of which help administrators plan for upcoming academic semesters. For university operations, Data Warehousing Services provides details about the number of students eating in specific cafeterias, the amount of food consumed and peak hours when particular dining rooms experience heavy usage. Stanford's cafeterias use this information to better staff facilities, plan meals and purchase food.
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. Stanford University is currently running PowerMart 4.5 on Sun Solaris/Ultra Spark 2.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Originally, Stanford's Data Warehousing Services built its own extraction transformation load tool known as Table Update Management System (TUMS). When the original developer of TUMS left Stanford, using the tool became a larger problem than the challenge it was originally built to solve. After extensive analyst consultations and product testing, Stanford chose Informatica's PowerMart to provide a standardized data warehousing environment allowing for changing needs and turnover in personnel.
FUNCTIONALITY: With one PowerMart engine, Stanford maintains several production data marts which are fed daily from the university data warehouse. Currently, Data Warehousing Services is the sole owner of these data marts, but Stanford is now installing Informatica's PowerCenter 1.5 to enable the departmental data mart users to own their own repositories and utilize multiple PowerMart engines for data distribution. Additionally, using PowerMart 4.5, Stanford was able to create a front-end Web interface allowing users access to the meta data repository from any Web browser. This repository access gave Stanford the ability to obtain ongoing status updates for any given data mart.
STRENGTHS: As an Informatica customer for almost two years, Stanford has experienced firsthand PowerMart's evolution into a powerful, enterprise-capable product for deploying scalable data marts and data warehouses. PowerMart helped Stanford's Data Warehousing Services standardize its data warehousing activities with a repository-based product. With its user-friendly front end and superior repository-based environment, PowerMart is what the IT community hoped for 15 years ago.
WEAKNESSES: While Informatica's performance increased significantly from PowerMart 3.5 to PowerMart 4.5, speed can always be improved.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Informatica was chosen because it could run on UNIX or NT. Stanford needed a product that could support Sybase, Oracle and flat files, and Informatica offered increased flexibility with an open platform. Stanford discovered that no other product they evaluated could truly compare to PowerMart.
DELIVERABLES: PowerMart 4.5 allows Stanford to deliver valuable reports for its decision support. Data Warehousing Services also tests alternate distribution options for deliverables. Stanford recently used PowerMart 4.5 to extract data from the database, transform it and produce the output report in HTML format so it could be easily viewed from any Web browser as an additional option for future report distribution.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Stanford has established an exceptional relationship with Informatica. As Informatica has increased in size, staff and customers, it continues to deliver excellent customer service and technical support.
DOCUMENTATION: As the products get better, so does the documentation. The materials that accompany PowerMart 4.5 are top notch.
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