CATEGORY: Data Acquisition, Transformation & Replication

REVIEWER: Keith Sederholm, DBA team leader for Priority Health.

BACKGROUND: Formed in 1992, Priority Health is a Michigan managed care company. The company has grown rapidly; has offices in Grand Rapids, Holland and Traverse City, Michigan; and covers more than 300,000 lives.

PLATFORMS: Priority Health's computing environment running DataMirror Transformation Server consists of a Sybase database running on an HP- UX N-Class 6-Way Server and an Oracle operational data store on another HP-UX N- Class Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Priority Health's plan data, including member, claims, provider and financial records, resides in a Sybase database. Our company utilizes Facets, a client/server claims-processing application developed by Erisco, Inc. to manage this insurance claims data. To offload query and reporting activities from the production server and maximize operational efficiency, we wanted the company's entire transaction history to be captured from the production Sybase database and flowed into an Oracle operational data store. Because all our development and reporting tools are Oracle-based, we wanted to leverage our use of current in-house tools and Oracle expertise. We selected DataMirror Transformation Server because of its real-time, multiplatform data integration capabilities. Using the software, we can capture, transform and flow to more than 700 tables in real time between our production environment and the operational data store.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Because Priority Health is a rapidly expanding company, we wanted to implement a scalable, flexible, cross-database/platform integration tool that would accommodate future mergers or changes in the company's platform or database environment. Transformation Server was easy to implement and use and required no programming changes to our existing databases. The software enables us to process more than 300 critical data transactions per second during peak processing loads.

STRENGTHS: The two biggest aspects that impressed us about Transformation Server were its overall performance and simplicity. It was quite easy to implement because of its plug-and-play features.

WEAKNESSES: Using our version of Enterprise Administrator, Transformation Server's graphical user interface, we had some issues setting up large numbers of tables to be replicated ­ we have over 700 ­ as their status must be assigned one table at a time. This can be a time- consuming process. We are looking forward to implementing the Enterprise Administrator Version 2.3 which includes a Java application programming interface (API) that will enable us to easily write a routine to automate this process.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We sought a software solution that would allow us to utilize our existing tools and technology and that could grow with the company. We also searched for a solution that was easy to implement and required no programming changes to our existing databases. Prior to choosing DataMirror Transformation Server, we used a combination of custom- developed batch solutions and various integration software packages to periodically move data across our multiplatform environment. The custom- developed solutions were generally not flexible and required a great deal of maintenance. The integration software packages presented issues with performance, scalability and complexity. Additionally, these products were generally difficult to manage and offered little support for data-type conversion.

DELIVERABLES: Transformation Server enables us to process more than 300 critical data transactions per second during peak processing loads. We are also impressed with the software's data-type conversion and calculated field capabilities. Transformation Server provides us with continuous access to up-to-date data on our Oracle operational data store for real-time analytics. Using the DataMirror solution, we can offload query and reporting activities and maximize operational efficiency by capturing our entire transaction history from the production Sybase database and flowing it into an Oracle operational data store.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We received strong vendor support during the initial software implementation. Any problems we experienced were minor, and we were satisfied with DataMirror's swift and effective approach in handling any implementation issues that did arise.

DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation is easy to follow. Moreover, users often didn't require any detailed or additional knowledge in order to use the software which saved us time and money that would have otherwise been spent on things such as programming, re-coding and preparation of target systems.

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