PLATFORMS: IBM AS/400, Microsoft SQL Server.
BACKGROUND: Eagle USA Airfreight is a major force in the air freight forwarding business. Eagle's more than 60 air freight terminals never close, and the company has invested heavily in information systems technology that gives customers and suppliers ready access to up-to-the-minute shipping information. Eagle's service partners and major airline partners are linked to the company's IBM AS/400, which provides continuous updating of all Eagle shipments. The AS/400 currently manages all of Eagle's business applications. Eagle's systems are aligned with internal accounting to provide management with timely information on a per customer basis. More than 500 users at Eagle's air freight terminals have direct access to the AS/400, where they enter and track the 3,000 to 5,000 domestic shipments Eagle handles daily.
PROBLEM SOLVED: The load on Eagle's AS/400 is significant. With heavy on-line transaction processing (OLTP) activity and 200 to 300 batch reports generated daily, the company is very sensitive to issues that affect system performance. We didn't want any more users querying directly against the production system, because we want the AS/400 to be running at optimum performance levels to support OLTP users. Eagle needed a method to quickly and securely move portions of its DB2 data to a Microsoft SQL Server database which customers could access through the Internet.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Eagle chose StarQuest's StarSQL Pro--an ODBC-compliant driver that provides connections to IBM DB2 relational databases--to move sections of its DB2 database to an SQL Server data mart. Eagle is now working toward deploying data warehousing and data mining applications utilizing StarSQL Pro to move the DB2/400 data out closer to the general user population. STRENGTHS: StarSQL Pro installs easily and is simple to use--minimal training is required. StarSQL Pro is allowing the synchronization of our AS/400--which houses all of Eagle's business transactions--with the Web server. It provides the functionality and superior performance that Eagle needs and is supported to the highest standards, which is vital for a mission-critical application. StarSQL Pro also has a distinct price advantage over competing products.
WEAKNESSES: StarSQL Pro is a very solid and stable product. The only minor weakness is that currently there is no convenient way to manage the expiration of a password using Star SQL Pro, although StarQuest plans to add password management with release 2.5.
SELECTION CRITERIA: StarSQL Pro provides Eagle with a very fast connection mechanism and was one of the fastest ODBC drivers that was tested. The scheduled update occurring every 10 minutes usually takes only a minute or two, so it is providing excellent throughput. Another reason for choosing StarSQL Pro was its support of IBM's Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA), meaning that no additional hardware or software is required on the host system. Using this standards- based solution that required no additional AS/400 system software significantly reduced development costs and system overhead.
DELIVERABLES: StarSQL Pro has enabled Eagle to develop Eagle-TRAK, Eagle's new, Internet-based, dial-up shipment tracking system for use by customers and partners. Eagle's customers like the fact that they can now access the same up-to- the-minute shipping information as the company's employees.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The level of service that StarQuest provided to Eagle has been nothing short of remarkable. For example, we received a return call within five minutes over the Labor Day weekend when we had a licensing issue.
DOCUMENTATION: All of the documentation is provided on-line. It is comprehensive and easy to read.
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