CATEGORY: Data Acquisition, Transformation and Replication
REVIEWER: Jean Labarre, manager of technology and information systems for Provigo Inc.
BACKGROUND: Provigo Inc. is Quebec's largest grocery retailer, with a network of more than 250 stores operating under the Provigo, Maxi, Maxi & Cie and Loblaws banners. Through its distribution group, Provigo Inc. serves close to 600 associated merchant under the Axep, L'Intermarchè, Proprio and Atout-Prix banners. The company and its franchised and associate merchants provide employment to 30,000 people. Provigo is part of the Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest grocery distributor. Loblaw markets a broad range of private-brand products.
PLATFORMS: Provigo's data warehouse environment is a two-node NCR 4800 WorldMark server running NCR's Teradata database on UNIX.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Before TeraBuilder, we were backing up data from our production system to tape and then restoring it on our test system to avoid creating multiple flat files on our load server. The first day we used TeraBuilder, we immediately saw the advantage of this tool to broadly manage our entire Teradata environment. We also saw how it could help with the movement of data throughout our whole IT system. With the parallel features of Tera-Builder, we were able to load our warehouse in a fraction of the time it took with our previous sequential method.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TeraBuilder is a powerful infrastructure that will coordinate the movement of data from any source, transform it using user-created transformation routines and load it into Teradata using the existing parallel load utilities. This simplifies the building of the data warehouse and provides the foundation for the extract, transform and load process (ETL) required for enterprise data warehousing.
STRENGTHS: We discovered that we could parallelize the acquisition of any source and the loading of any target. We saw that the system provided the optimal level of checkpoint/ restart for our industrial-strength needs.
WEAKNESSES: TeraBuilder lacks large-volume parallel update functionality; however, MultiLoad functionality including parallel updates, inserts, upsert and deletes will be available in the next version of TeraBuilder available mid-2001.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Provigo was facing a data bottleneck and needed a product that could provide a unifying tool and language for the management of data throughout our environment. We had an opportunity to be part of NCR's early adopter program for TeraBuilder and jumped at the chance to preview a product that seemed so well suited to our current needs.
DELIVERABLES: TeraBuilder provided a parallel infrastructure that enabled large volume, high- speed loads in a very easy-to- use, SQL-list scripting language. TeraBuilder also provides an extensible set of C++ APIs that allow us to extend the functionality of our ETL environment by integrating our custom transformation programs to complete our entire ETL process in parallel.
VENDOR SUPPORT: NCR provided tremendous support at our location. To get us started with TeraBuilder, a diverse installation team supplemented our Teradata support team. Together, we worked through what was to have been an aggressive four-day schedule in a day and a half.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation and training for TeraBuilder were comprehensive and user friendly.
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