BACKGROUND: With revenues exceeding $5 billion, ScottishPower is one of the largest industrial groups in the U.K. providing electricity, water and waste services, gas, communications and electrical retailing services to more than five million customers.

PLATFORMS: Constellar Hub supports the leading UNIX and Windows platforms. ScottishPower's systems include IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, VME and IBM MVS (DB2).

PROBLEM SOLVED: In April 1996, ScottishPower embarked on a major initiative called "Information Exchange" (IE), which was designed to leverage enterprise application integration (EAI) technology to create a more flexible IT infrastructure that could quickly respond to business and market changes. ScottishPower was facing utility deregulation, expansion into new markets, a rapidly growing customer base, increasing competitive pressures, the need to implement new and upgraded business systems and a growth-through-acquisition strategy ­ all requiring widely different systems to share data. The goal of IE was to utilize EAI technology from Constellar to integrate all application and business management systems in order to boost revenue through cross-selling and reduce costs through elimination of redundant operations.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Constellar Hub enables users to rapidly build and deploy interfaces in order to reduce the timescales, costs and risks of implementing new systems and integrating applications, whether those applications are legacy, custom, ERP or data warehouses. Because all data flows through the Hub and all meta data is maintained in the Hub, Constellar provides a maintainable, scalable environment for managing interfaces, including the ability to schedule, monitor, reconcile and audit data transformation and movement between enterprise applications. In addition, Constellar Hub's data transformation capabilities go well beyond field reformatting, enabling customers to merge, cleanse, aggregate and stage exceptionally large volumes of data, both batch as well as real-time messages.

STRENGTHS: ScottishPower's IE initiative has been a tremendous success, accomplishing all its objectives in just one year. Specific strengths of Constellar Hub that helped make that possible include:

  • Flexibility ­ to respond quickly to competitor strategies and market changes without having to change systems or build new interfaces.
  • Enterprise scalability ­ easily handles increased transaction volumes from major acquisitions and global expansion which can be absorbed with minimal disruption.
  • Centralized interface management ­ enables fast and reliable time/resource estimating followed by quick and consistent delivery of critical interfaces.
  • Transformation power ­ handles even the most complex transformations, such as data joining, while maintaining the consistency and quality of data across the enterprise.

WEAKNESSES: Because Constellar Hub is an enterprise solution and business rules and individual systems may be very complex, there is an initial learning curve during the implementation and preliminary use of the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: ScottishPower was looking for an EAI solution that would make minimal changes to the packages implemented; is "plug and play" and relatively easy to set up, yet integrated and flexible; could cope with interfaces that were continually added, removed, exchanged and enhanced, as the business units selected and changed their systems (because data and technical architectures would be different, as would the service level required of different interfaces); and provided a central point of control for all interfaced systems so they could be properly managed and controlled.

DELIVERABLES: Using Constellar Hub's standard approach to interface development, ScottishPower was able to develop more than 400 interfaces in two years with a team of only 14 people. An analysis conducted by Ernst & Young reported a 237 percent return on investment in one year from ScottishPower's IE initiative. IE was also a significant factor in ScottishPower's claim to be the first company ready for the introduction of competition in the U.K. electricity supply and has helped ScottishPower integrate acquired systems, including ManWeb and Southern Water.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Constellar offers several support programs, as well as extensive consulting and training services. Worldwide 24x7 support is available. All support programs include unlimited access to Constellar's team of experienced support engineers via phone, fax, e-mail and the Web.

DOCUMENTATION: Constellar's documentation is comprehensive and includes "Quick Start" guides to help get users up to speed quickly.

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