BACKGROUND: Synectics Solutions is a rapidly growing database service bureau based in the United Kingdom. Synectics manages complex databases for a roster of clients including motor vehicle manufacturer, The Rover Group; J.D. Williams Co., the largest direct response mail order company in the U.K.; and the U.K. Audit Commission, which is similar to the Social Security Benefits Administration in the United States. Clients such as these require complex and innovative uses of the kind of processing, analytical and predictive applications that a Teradata warehouse can easily handle in an NT environment.

PLATFORMS: At Synectics Solutions, NCR's Teradata for Windows NT parallel relational database runs on an NCR 4300 WorldMark SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) server with a 90GB LSI Logic RAID 5 disk array. The server currently uses four Pentium Pro 200 processors, which will soon be upgraded to an NCR 4400 WorldMark platform. Synectics currently has about 50GB of data in the Teradata database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The flexibility of our Teradata warehouse is the key to our being able to solve the data management and analysis problems of our wide-ranging customer base. For example, it is the capability of our Teradata warehouse to deliver any data at any time that helps Synectics to provide the U.K. Audit Commission with a solution to detect fraud in its benefits administration ­ which requires the ability to do very large data matching exercises. We found that only Teradata in the NT environment is capable of scaling for jobs such as helping The Rover Group ­ well known for their Land Rover and other vehicles & #173; manage their customer marketing database.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Since Teradata for NT has been installed, we've had no down time. The high- availability features inherent in Teradata are critical in applications such as fraud detection. This type of application requires that the "detection" of the fraud must occur while it is still taking place.

STRENGTHS: Both Synectics and its customers benefit from the ease of use of Teradata on NT and the minimal requirements for expensive DBA skills. Additionally, the speed with which Teradata can process and do complex analysis for the large volumes of data that our customers have was an important factor.

WEAKNESSES: NCR's BYNET scalable interconnect technology for the NT operating system has not yet been released. Temporarily, this limits the size of the warehouse that Synectics can build to one node. BYNET for NT is scheduled to ship in September.

SELECTION CRITERIA: With the NT version of Teradata, in particular, we could start with a small application and scale upward dramatically as our customers' needs inevitably grow. Because we have enjoyed a good and successful working relationship with NCR for the past seven years, we have acquired extensive experience with Teradata and its low DBA (database administrator) requirements. Teradata's minimal DBA requirements were a key factor in our selection.

DELIVERABLES: The new NT-based Teradata warehouse helps Synectics serve its customers better than competitors by providing unique reports and analyses. Our Teradata warehouse, running on NT, enables us to provide "matching reports" for fraud investigations, as well as complex decision support analysis for a pilot customer relationship management program for The Rover Group. For J.D. Williams, we have been able to develop, implement and support a complex mailing extract system. And currently, we are working with a large U.K.-based retailer to help them analyze the success of direct marketing campaigns. Teradata on NT has been instrumental as a prototyping environment for these types of projects ­ as well as an outstanding production system.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Unlike many other companies, Synectics did not have to use NCR's vendor support. Because of our expertise in running large databases, when our NCR Teradata warehouse arrived & #173; we brought it in and it worked right away. However, on the software side, we have had occasion to use NCR's Services professionals, who responded rapidly to our requests.

DOCUMENTATION: The print, video and on-line materials available from NCR are excellent and plentiful. Although these are for a truly "industrial-strength" product, the documentation is relatively easy to understand.

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