PLATFORMS: Server: HP T600 running HP-UX 10.20. Client: Macintosh, Windows 3.1, 95 and NT.
BACKGROUND: The Boeing Company, since its recent merger in 1997 with McDonnell Douglas Corporation, is now the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft and is also the nation's largest NASA contractor.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Vista Plus addresses our need for capturing, on-line viewing and archival of legacy and PeopleSoft report information from a centralized report warehouse. McDonnell Douglas, now part of The Boeing Company, recently migrated from a 25-year-old mainframe accounting system to a PeopleSoft client/server accounting system, creating the need for a tool that empowers end users to capture and view reports for auditing and analysis. The old way of doing things was to create reports on the UNIX server and FTP them to the MVS mainframe, where SAR (Computer Associates' Mainframe Sysout, Archival and Retrieval System) would maintain them so that the users could view them. After a year, PeopleSoft report generations would fall off the archives managed within SAR, and users would have to rely on microfiche. This method was inefficient and expensive. With Vista Plus, users now gain instant access to legacy and PeopleSoft report data, where they can download, view, search and analyze the information.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are currently using Vista Plus to capture and view customized PeopleSoft reports that are generated on the UNIX database server. With Vista Plus, users can extract their own reports, download them through Microsoft Excel or Access (or other desktop applications) and create subreports for analysis or subsystems for individual departments. We would like to eventually migrate all legacy reports to the centralized Vista Plus report repository so that we can avoid having to go through the mainframe for report viewing and avoid using microfiche.
STRENGTHS: We like the client/server nature of Vista Plus, which enables hundreds of users to simultaneously view and search reports without taxing production databases and the network. The operation of Vista Plus is straightforward and intuitive. Our users can quickly adapt and navigate through the familiar graphical user interface. In addition, everyone can use Vista Plus' data extract feature, which is very important for us because our users can create subreports from our standard production reports. This functionality could replace downstream reporting systems, which currently operate on the mainframe. Also, the speed of access to the reports from the client is very impressive.
WEAKNESSES: Although Vista Plus has a fairly good suite of tools for the vadmin UNIX command line utility right now, it could be more robust in some areas. The earlier releases of Vista Plus did not allow users to use wildcards in index searching. Manufacturer's note: All of these issues are addressed in the most recent release of Vista Plus.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose Vista Plus for its ease of installation and implementation, user friendliness and functionality. With Quest Software's technical support JumpStart, we loaded it right out of the box, and we had it up and running in no time at all. We were able to figure out a lot of it ourselves without any formal training. We feel that the product is very stable.
DELIVERABLES: We are using Vista Plus as a centralized report repository, archival, distribution and viewing solution. Boeing is such a large defense contractor that report archival is a huge requirement. We have to be able to archive reports or data up to ten years after the completion of a contract. We also use Vista Plus for high-speed selective printing.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Quest Software's technical support is very receptive, not only to our enhancement requests, but if we identify a problem with the software, they're very quick to respond. We also like the way that Quest Software does its installation with the JumpStart. It is obvious that Quest Software has a lot of experience in installing the product at a new site, getting the customer up and running, and then supporting the customer--all of which is very important to us.
DOCUMENTATION: The Vista Plus documentation is very detailed and kept up to date with version upgrades. Whenever we have technical questions, we refer to the Server Administration Guide (both the on-line and hard copy versions). There are a few topics that need to be discussed in more detail. Overall, the Server Administration Guide and the Windows User's Guide are both very good publications.
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