REVIEWER: Ian Bell, IS Manager for Richmond Limited.
BACKGROUND: Richmond is New Zealand's largest processor and marketer of meat and meat-based products to the world. We currently have an annual turnover of $1.1 billion, with 90 percent of total sales coming from export receipts. With fourteen modern plants, the company processes high quality beef, lamb, venison, veal, goats, leathers and a wide range of associated products. Richmond coordinates procurement, processing and export activities for major world markets, including North America, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and the Middle East from its head office in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
PLATFORM: WhereScape RED runs on a Windows 2000 client and supports an Oracle9i data warehouse on Windows 2000.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Richmond needed to convert an existing data warehouse from Informix to Oracle, yet we had no internal Oracle skills. We also needed to add functionality to the existing data warehouse, but we did not want to utilize expensive external consultants. Using WhereScape RED, we were able to follow a standard methodology and generate the data warehouse tables and PL/SQL code. In some cases, our requirements were extremely complex. Rather than having to fight the product, we were able to look at the generated code and the existing Informix code and then modify the generated code to meet our needs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The code generator allowed us to build a data warehouse by dragging and dropping objects. This saved considerable effort in both coding and learning PL/SQL. This means that the code is written in a standard way and is easy to maintain. The generated code was sufficient to deliver a working prototype of the data warehouse. Using WhereScape RED's editor and compiler, we modified some of the code to meet our specific requirements. For workflow management, we utilized WhereScape RED's scheduler and job monitoring capabilities. This enabled us to have a working prototype, with daily incremental loading of data, from day one. We also delivered Web-based user and technical documentation of the warehouse using WhereScape RED's documentation generator.
STRENGTHS: The two key strengths for us were WhereScape's methodology and the ability to rapidly deliver a prototype. WhereScape RED incorporates a strong data warehousing methodology. Unlike other products that just provide objects that you can assemble any way you want, WhereScape RED is based around a proven method for designing, building and populating the warehouse. Following this meant we did not have to employ expensive consultants. By generating the data warehouse, we were able to prototype changes and new functionality rapidly, giving our business users confidence that we were on the right track.
WEAKNESSES: WhereScape RED only generates SQL Server and Oracle- based data warehouses. We would like to see it support DB2 as well.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We wanted a fully functional data warehouse product that helped us prototype rapidly and build a dimensional data warehouse that was extensible yet easy to maintain. Key selection criteria were that we had to have a product that would work the way we wanted to; we didn't want to fight it to do complex tasks. It also had to be attractively priced. WhereScape RED was by far the best value product we looked at.
DELIVERABLES: Richmond now has an Oracle-based data warehouse that delivers more than our previous data warehouse, and our internal team built it all. It is easy to maintain, and the integrated scheduler and job monitor mean we can be sure the warehouse will be available every morning. As we make changes, we regenerate the documentation and make it available on our intranet straight away.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support has been great. We are located in rural New Zealand, so all support has been Web and phone based. We know WhereScape is focused on the U.S. and UK markets, but they always responded to us in a timely fashion. As well as working on bugs, WhereScape has also helped with database issues and with the data warehouse design and approach.
DOCUMENTATION: WhereScape provided a hard copy installation manual as well as a hard copy user guide. The documentation is also available via the online help. It includes four tutorials which, in conjunction with the data supplied, allowed us to easily get familiar with the product. The tutorials were comprehensive enough that after completing them we did not think it was necessary to take the training courses offered.
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