PLATFORMS: SyncSort for Windows NT runs on any hardware that supports the Windows NT operating system. Currently, these are any Intel platform and the Digital Alpha AXP.

BACKGROUND: ASI Financial Services, Inc., is a worldwide consulting organization that provides focused information technology and business services to all industries. We use SyncSort for Windows NT to develop and implement our data warehouse solutions.

PROBLEM SOLVED: At ASI Financial Services, we specialize in building data warehouses for banks and related financial institutions. We use SyncSort for Windows NT because it accelerates the entire data warehousing process. SyncSort for Windows NT is designed for working with large amounts of data and includes a wide range of data manipulation functions. We use SyncSort for Windows NT for record selection and reformatting, aggregating the data and then loading it into the warehouse. For all of these tasks, SyncSort for Windows NT is a superior product.

For example, we recently implemented data warehouses at two financial institutions, one of which is a well-known retail bank. One data warehouse draws information from 27 different systems, while the other draws from 12 systems. At ASI, we receive the data extracts in flat files and start preparing it for the warehouses from that point. SyncSort for Windows NT enhances our processing in a variety of ways. First, SyncSort for Windows NT accelerates extract processing. Using SyncSort for Windows NT to select specific data from extracted tables is much faster than using SQL SELECT, GROUP BY and/or SUM statements. We then use SyncSort for Windows NT to reformat the data to conform to the data warehouse models. (SyncSort for Windows NT can also be used to select and reformat data in the same operation, eliminating additional, time-consuming passes through the data.) Next, we aggregate the data with SyncSort for Windows NT, which speeds the data warehouse load. Aggregating data is one of the easiest ways to improve the overall performance of the data warehouse. Finally, we use SyncSort for Windows NT to presort the data, which dramatically reduces index creation and load times.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are using SyncSort for Windows NT for record selection, reformatting, aggregation and sorting. Our experience with the product has been positive. Simply put, we throw tons of data at it and it works, every time, exactly how its supposed to work. It's very easy to install and to use. The graphical user interface is very intuitive and makes application development quick and painless.

STRENGTHS: The strongest feature of SyncSort for Windows NT is its performance. It is 10 to 100 times faster than the Windows NT system sort and at least that much faster than other sort products we've tried. Also, it has all the functionality we need for data warehousing, where other sort products did not.

WEAKNESSES: SyncSort for Windows NT does not currently provide field-level, context-sensitive help. However, this feature will be added to a later version of the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose SyncSort for Windows NT for several reasons: superior performance, robust functionality and the company's long-standing reputation for quality products and outstanding technical support.

DELIVERABLES: SyncSort for Windows NT delivers selected, aggregated, sorted data that is formatted and ready for loading into a data warehouse or other OLAP application.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Telephone support is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The support personnel are sort experts with a great deal of product knowledge who are always available and happy to help.

DOCUMENTATION: An easy-to-use on line help facility is available, in addition to a thorough Installation and User Guide.

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