REVIEWER: Jerry MacGillivray, systems and database administrator, Statistics Canada.


BACKGROUND: Statistics Canada is a federally mandated agency of the Canadian government charged with collecting, processing, maintaining, interpreting and disseminating the country’s census, social and economic information. To gather data, Statistics Canada conducts a nationwide census every five years and has about 350 ongoing surveys on virtually all aspects of Canadian life. Statistics Canada serves government agencies, business enterprises and private individuals.


HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Solaris 64 and Windows on Dell hardware.


PROBLEM SOLVED: Statistical information is a lot like financial data; people care a great deal about its accuracy and confidentiality. At a higher level of information aggregation, confidentiality becomes a nonissue. To serve the dual needs of rendering valuable statistical information while maintaining the privacy of its individual citizens and businesses, Statistics Canada has a complex network. Private areas are heavily shielded and completely disconnected from the outside world, whereas the outside world has graduated access to public and subscriber areas. Through a proprietary switching process that takes place frequently, Replication Server, a component of the Sybase Data Integration Suite, keeps the entire network - isolated and nonisolated areas - up to date so both internal and external users have access to current information.


PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: To achieve this state of synchronized separation, Statistics Canada uses Sybase Replication Server. Replication Server’s queuing mechanism stores the information moved between the internal and external networks. The unique switching approach relies upon Replication Server’s ability to always resume its work from where it stopped when it reconnects to the network. The unstoppable nature and absolute accuracy of the replication process delivered by Replication Server gives Statistics Canada the ability to protect private data yet disseminate aggregate information, while Sybase IQ provides the ability to keep multiyear data online in a compressed form.


STRENGTHS: Sybase Replication Server dramatically reduced the amount of work required to support our custom tabulation tool, while increasing the options for the users. With Sybase Replication Server, all users, including external users, can use a custom tabulation tool to define a custom table specification that is stored along with the metadata. Other key benefits include reduction in administrative costs, reduction in human error, fully synchronized internal and external secure networks, improved customer service, ability to offer more data products and maximized cost recovery. We can depend on Sybase Replication Server’s data integrity. We’ve never had a data content issue with respect to transactions going through Replication Server. Replication Server’s dependability leads us to push the envelope beyond its originally intended uses. To maintain security and to replicate information between the two networks, Statistics Canada purposely disconnects from the network periodically and relies on Replication Server’s ability to pick up where it left off and correctly resume its replication tasks.


WEAKNESSES: To reduce transaction volume, it would be very helpful to replicate minimally logged operations. Also, it would be helpful to have a “lite” version as a starting point for simpler projects or those new to replication solutions.


SELECTION CRITERIA: Statistics Canada, a long-standing Sybase ASE user, relies on Sybase’s solid reputation of reliability, so using Sybase technology for replication was a natural progression. During the evaluation process, Statistics Canada determined that alternative technologies would not deliver the same functionality across the planned separate network architecture. Since implementation, Statistics Canada has never had a data integrity breach or issue with transactions going through Sybase Replication.


DELIVERABLES: The Sybase system provides online access to census data dating back to 1971, providing users with standard and ad hoc reporting capabilities across all data, available in near real time.


VENDOR SUPPORT: Statistics Canada has worked closely with Sybase and the local Sybase team for a number of years. During that time, needs have been quickly addressed and issues resolved.


DOCUMENTATION: The experience with Sybase solutions is straightforward, so there is less reliance on the written documentation. The online communities are also very helpful with specific inquiries.


Sybase Replication Server
Sybase, Inc.

One Sybase Drive
Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 236-5000

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