BACKGROUND: The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA ­ Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique) is a public research organization with 16,000 researchers, engineers and other employees whose mission is to develop applications of the atom in the sectors of energy, industry, research, health care, environmental protection and defense.

PLATFORMS: The CEA runs Sybase SQL Server (Sybase) on a SUN SPARC server SS1000 and a Bull mainframe.

PROBLEM SOLVED: CEA decided to migrate from Sybase version 4.9.2 to System 11 during the months of July and August when activity in France is at its lowest. All of the applications were housed under a single Sybase, the majority of which used a communal database. It was, therefore, necessary to migrate everything at the same time. During this period, application development had to be strictly controlled. The applications were developed and maintained by different service companies, so it was necessary to inform these companies that all required modifications needed to be made immediately. The new system had to be able to support the same amount of users in a similar response time. The transfer was to take place on the weekends, while maintaining the option of returning to version 4.9.2 if necessary.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CEA selected CYRANO MigrationPack, a complete set of tools for managing and controlling the Sybase SQL Server migration processes. These tools provide: 1) unit testing of SQL statements, 2) validation of the new SQL access strategy, 3) SQL performance optimization, 4) automatic comparison between return values of both releases, and 5) deployment testing with an explanation of unacceptable response times. Also included is an eight-step proven methodology process.

STRENGTHS: A number of problems were discovered in System 11, many of which were related to the query optimizer. The problem reports were sent daily to the Sybase development team in California via the Internet. The reports were so accurate, the DBMS engine so well-documented and the Sybase developers so motivated that in most cases the fixes were mailed back by the next day. If this had not been the case, CEA would have reverted back to 4.9.2 until it had received a more stable version. In two months, all the problems detected in System 11 had been solved and the tests showed that performance would be perfect: the new DBMS engine could be deployed without fear. This application proves that comparing old and new procedure behaviors, as analyzed and recorded by CYRANO Migration Pack, yields conclusions so accurate that a DBMS engine development team can diagnose and fix errors in a matter of hours and in exactly the same way an application development team would.

WEAKNESSES: The program was not able to detect application problems until the migration was underway. It should be noted that since this migration, CYRANO has developed a new tool called Xplain that instantly creates a list of all the problems that will be encountered during the migration application. This makes it possible to correct all those problems before starting the migration.

SELECTION CRITERIA: MigrationPack was selected for its comprehensive ability to manage the migration process and for its complete array of regression and load testing tools.

DELIVERABLES: The French Atomic Energy Commission migrated to Sybase System 11 in only two months, about half the time that had originally been estimated, using a comprehensive testing methodology that helped to accelerate, secure and certify the migration process. Throughout the migration process, the testing process simultaneously simulated old and new versions of Sybase, yielding conclusions that were so accurate the development team could diagnose and fix errors in a matter of hours. Regression testing tools that simulated the impact of thousands of users accessing the system made it a relatively easy process to identify and repair performance bottlenecks.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CYRANO provides highly qualified support experts that have demonstrated their ability to not only understand and resolve our problems but also grasp and suggest improvements for the larger programming issues that are involved.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is comprehensive and easy to use.


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