BACKGROUND: Stevens Institute of Technology is one of the leading technological universities in the country dedicated to study and research. Through its pioneering curriculum and its focus to applied research, Stevens is helping to solve real-world problems in industry and the environment. Founded in 1870, Stevens offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, computer science and management in addition to a baccalaureate degree in the humanities and liberal arts. Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, the university has a total enrollment of 1,400 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students.

PLATFORMS: We are using CONNX on an Alpha OpenVMS system. The client software for CONNX is Microsoft Windows 95, 98 and NT Workstations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed a better way to access our legacy system that stores admission statistics and accounting data on segmented RMS files. CONNX acts as a data access engine that allows us to access all RMS files using ODBC. With CONNX, we can now use ODBC-compliant tools to enhance our reporting and data retrieval. We purchased SCT Plus2000 software for student and financial applications. Because CONNX is based on open standards, it integrates well with other vendors without causing an interruption to the enterprise. SolutionsIQ includes a program that generates CONNX tables for SCT Plus2000 RMS files. This allows us to rebuild the tables after installing vendor file structure changes or our own file changes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: One of the most important implementations has been providing a means to create admission statistics quickly in text and graphical format. With CONNX, we have developed the application to produce the admissions statistics using Seagate Crystal Reports. CONNX eliminated the need to create extract files from our financial system to import into Excel spreadsheets. We are able to import data in real time without the need to generate and download extract files. This has tremendous potential to provide financial analyses to management in a timely manner. We now are able to look at data directly off the system using an already familiar front-end interface. We can pull raw data off a legacy RMS flat file structure into spreadsheets and graphical packages. Our next step with CONNX is to use word processing to prepare real-time letters from admissions counselors to prospective students without first having to manually type in address and biographical data.

STRENGTHS: The ease of implementation and flexibility to perform ODBC impressed us. We were intrigued with how easy the product was to install and run against our legacy files. And security features of CONNX met our needs. We were not able to identify any security holes with this product ­ we have actually looked for them and still can't uncover any.

WEAKNESSES: Right now, CONNX does not support VSAM files on an IBM system. However, it is my understanding that SolutionsIQ is developing an upcoming version to add that support.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We looked at other products, and they did not meet our needs in terms of performance and price. CONNX offered a lot more than the competition including ease of installation, cost-effective pricing and outstanding performance. We really wanted something such as CONNX for a long time and were wowed when we got it.

DELIVERABLES: Using CONNX with Crystal Reports, we can now access student information and produce admission statistics, modeling and graphing. Our financial analysis will be improved because we can now move accounting data directly into spreadsheets without file extracts or imports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The technical expertise of the SolutionsIQ staff has been excellent. They are extremely responsive to any concerns we raise. When we first purchased the product, we experienced a small problem with the system. After SolutionsIQ spent time investigating the issue, we found out it was actually a problem on OUR end with our server and it had nothing to do with CONNX or SolutionsIQ. They helped us isolate our problem and truly went above and beyond the call of duty.

DOCUMENTATION: When we first saw the small packet of CONNX documentation, we thought, "Is that all there is?" Taking a closer look, we found the information to be very complete and easy to follow. CONNX could be installed and running from the documentation alone.

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