BACKGROUND: American Medical Securities, Inc. (AMS) is a marketer of healthcare benefits and other insurance products to small businesses, families and individuals nationwide. Headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, AMS maintains business alliances with leading independent agents and quality managed-care providers. The result: cost-effective, customized healthcare options for consumers in over 34 states. AMS credits its financial success to a strong internal sales department and strategic corporate acquisitions.
PLATFORMS: DB2/400 and Progress V. 8.1 on UNIX.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Every day, our insurance affiliates provide us with a gamut of information renewal package plans, updated price quotes and actuarial information. An urgent need arose to replicate this immense amount of core business data from our AS/400 to the sales application residing on a UNIX Progress database. This would allow for remote access to the centralized Progress database by our sales departments nationwide. Initially, a competing data replication tool was used to fulfill this function. AMS later encountered substantial difficulties when they were unable to support new Progress releases. We selected SYMBIATOR to overcome this challenge. Using an ODBC interface, SYMBIATOR was able to replicate mission-critical data in real time from the DB2/400 to Progress.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: AMS had specific replication needs. Tables on the AS/400 had to be mapped to differing structures on the Progress database with precise columns replicated out of the whole record. In some cases, this replication function also applied to particular documents based on user-defined field values. SYMBIATOR's robust, cross-platform replication technology ensured instantaneous updating of strategic data.
STRENGTHS: SYMBIATOR's easy-to-use, easy-to- install technology made it an especially attractive option for our data replication needs. Its simple point-and-click graphical interface enabled us to obtain an instant snapshot of all replication processes as well as providing users with manual intervention options. With SYMBIATOR's capabilities, users could also edit functions without hassle, providing for greater flexibility and resource utilization. Ongoing maintenance of the product was relatively streamlined and simplified. Our database administrator was able to keep track of SYMBIATOR's replication processes without having to purchase costly add-ons or tracking devices.
WEAKNESSES: Earlier versions of the product encountered some difficulties when replicating to the Progress database. It is our understanding that this was, in large part, due to SYMBIATOR's initial development issues. These concerns have since been addressed in SYMBIATOR's newer releases.
SELECTION CRITERIA: AMS needed an efficient tool to manage our tremendous volume of daily transactions and update the sales system in real time. Data accuracy was of utmost importance lost data meant potentially lost business. Maximizing our resources was an additional criterion. With limited staffing capabilities, AMS employees had to be able to strategically track replication processes without undue effort.
DELIVERABLES: SYMBIATOR's remarkable technical features fulfilled our expectations, including our specialized needs for record selection and ease of maintenance. We have been running a stable replication process for over seven months and are very impressed with the product. We know that when new data management needs arise within our organization, SYMBIATOR will deliver stable replication with low maintenance at a reasonable cost.
VENDOR SUPPORT: From the first installation process to product training to everyday maintenance, Vision Solutions has provided solid technical support. During initial setup and testing, for example, Vision Solutions provided excellent on-site consulting, expertly accommodating our company's unique circumstances. When technical issues arise, Vision's willingness to help and rapid response time have consistently provided us with above-average support. The bottom line: guaranteed fluidity and continuity in business operations.
DOCUMENTATION: SYMBIATOR's product manual is clear, concise and effective. Our special record selection requirements called for the creation of an exit program . Relying solely upon SYMBIATOR product documentation, our technical staff accomplished this task.
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