CATEGORY: DW Administration, Design & Management

REVIEWER: Marek Sukiennik, director of MIS for Lifetime Entertainment Services.

BACKGROUND: New York City-based Lifetime Entertainment Services is an entertainment company with interests in cable networks (Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Real Women) and publications. The flagship network, Lifetime, is a 24-hour basic cable network committed to entertaining, informing and supporting women through the highest quality programming. Lifetime is available on more than 11,000 cable systems and alternative delivery systems nationwide, serving over 76 million households.

PLATFORMS: Oracle databases on HP and Microsoft SQL Server on Microsoft Windows NT platforms.

PROBLEM SOLVED: When I joined Lifetime Entertainment Services, the databases were administered by two DBAs working independently. As Lifetime's data sets and applications grew larger and more complex, the DBAs increasingly encountered situations that required them to work together and communicate more often. The overhead and friction that stemmed from using disparate tools from different vendors consumed a disproportionate amount of their time. Choosing DBArtisan from Embarcadero Technologies as the centerpiece of a unified toolset greatly reduced the time and cost of administering databases and developing applications. Recently Lifetime benefited from this unified database toolset in the design and development of a system that replaced two legacy systems that support Lifetime's relationship with its affiliates such as DirectTV and Time Warner. This mission-critical system maintains the entire Lifetime affiliate business unit which includes finance, sales, administration and operations. This entails everything from the initial! sales contact to the physical distribution of a satellite si! gnal to our affiliates. The system becomes a sole source for all information pertaining to affiliates, contracts and subscribers. DBArtisan and additional Embarcadero products helped us deliver the project on time and on budget.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DBArtisan has all of the essential functionality that a DBA needs to administer a multivendor database environment wrapped in an intuitive graphical interface. You can extend DBArtisan's core functionality through add-on modules, including Embarcadero SQL Debugger to debug SQL code and Embarcadero SQL Profiler to identify performance problems in SQL applications. One of the key functions in DBArtisan that we use quite often is the ability to search databases and cross- reference objects. For example, one of our DBAs who supports a fairly large development team uses this capability when someone wants to make a change to a stored procedure or table. Often when you're changing a stored procedure or table, it's hard to know! what other database objects will be affected by these changes. DBArtisan lets you search through the entire dictionary of database objects and reveal every object that will be affected by the change. This reduces the time necessary to identify and implement changes and results in higher quality database applications.

STRENGTHS: Although Lifetime presently uses only Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases, DBArtisan's ability to target all the major relational database platforms with a single tool is a great advantage. Another strength is DBArtisan's ability to search a database for references to objects and define how the objects are to be grouped and displayed. This makes it much easier to find what you're looking for. A feature recently added to DBArtisan that's really come in handy is the editable data grid that lets you display and edit data in a tabular format.

WEAKNESSES: In the future, I would like to see more flexibility offered with server-based licensing.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Embarcadero has est! ablished a solid track record with me during the past several years. My firsthand experience with DBArtisan and Embarcadero were the key factors for choosing DBArtisan at Lifetime Entertainment Services.

DELIVERABLES: With DBArtisan, the output is dependent on the task you're trying to accomplish. Therefore, the output is best defined as more effective and efficient database administration.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Embarcadero support is very good. I recall only one incident when activating a license was difficult.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is very good; everything is online and easily accessible. DBArtisan is well suited to learning on your own, and a DBA can start using DBArtisan for basic database administrative tasks right out of the box.

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