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  Product News published in DM Direct Newsletter
January 25, 2007 Issue
 
  By DM Review Editorial Staff

The Population Council Standardizes on Crystal Reports Server XI

The Population Council, a global nonprofit organization that conducts research on HIV and AIDS, reproductive health, and poverty reduction, has standardized on Crystal Reports Server XI. Using the Web-based reporting solution from Business Objects, the Population Council can provide instant access to critical financial data and flexible reporting capabilities to its staff in 18 countries around the globe.

"We needed a way to more easily and effectively share financial information between and among our headquarters and international offices," said Stan Mierzwa, director of information technology at the Population Council. "Crystal Reports Server empowers employees to get information independently and run their own reports. This anywhere, anytime access to information allows our entire staff to leverage resources to better manage day-to-day finances in the field."

The Population Council conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research. As with any nonprofit organization, tight budgets and strict tax laws require diligent attention to expenses. The Council manages financial operations from its New York City headquarters. Prior to using Crystal Reports Server XI, the New York-based international program staff had to produce and send monthly reports - a time-consuming manual process - to its offices in Vietnam, Senegal, Pakistan, Kenya and other developing nations worldwide.

Using Crystal Reports Server XI, the Population Council now makes available real-time financial information to all international offices via an easy-to-use web-based interface. Integration with Microsoft Excel, Adobe PDF, and financial applications provides instant access to complete financial data. Now users can easily search through, drill down, export and print charts and metrics using Crystal Reports.

Unisys Open Source Migration Helps Leading UK Brokerage Streamline Operations and Customer Service

With 31 branches across the UK, Redmayne-Bentley is pre-eminent in private client stockbroking. The company needed a secure real-time infrastructure that would directly and dynamically align its business and IT requirements, enabling it to boost its already impressive customer service capabilities, accommodate forecast growth and bolster its business continuity capabilities. Plus, Redmayne-Bentley needed an infrastructure that could facilitate compliance with Financial Services Authority (FSA) rules for maintaining uptime during trading hours.

Unisys Corporation recently architected and managed a migration to an open source solution that has delivered dramatic benefits for UK stock brokerage firm Redmayne-Bentley. By moving its hardware platform, operating system and applications to a Linux environment on Unisys ES7000/one Enterprise Servers, Redmayne-Bentley has achieved a tenfold increase in processing power, an 88 percent reduction in overnight processing times and significantly enhanced security.

Unisys showed Redmayne-Bentley how the firm could realize that infrastructure objective by escaping the limitations imposed by its UNIX system and taking advantage of the operational and cost benefits afforded by open source software environments. Unisys designed a solution centered on three Unisys ES7000/one Enterprise Servers, each running SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES 9). Over only a single weekend, Unisys migrated Redmayne-Bentley's core applications onto the new platforms. Most importantly for its business, Redmayne-Bentley suffered no unplanned downtime during the migration.

"Like all companies in financial services we're constantly facing new challenges in business operations, security and alignment of IT with business goals," commented Michael Wheeler, finance partner at Redmayne-Bentley. "We have been able to capitalize on Unisys solutions expertise to realize measurable benefits to our business - especially maximized use of IT assets, improved customer service and a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace."

Delivering substantially more power and capable of handling more data more quickly than its predecessor, the Unisys solution has reduced Redmayne-Bentley's overnight processing times from 13 to 1.5 hours and dramatically reduced the time it takes to report trades. It also provides added protection by eliminating a single point of failure and includes off-site disaster recovery capability. In addition there is improved security for resilience against attack to complement the upgraded business continuity capability.

Heald College Selects StrataVia to Manage its Microsoft SQL Server Database Administration

Heald College, the nation's oldest business career college in the western United States, has selected StrataVia's Managed Services group to perform its database administration services and care for its valued student database information. Heald College is saving more than 45 percent on its DBA costs since partnering with StrataVia to manage and administer its Microsoft SQL Server databases.

Personal data for the 8,000 students enrolled at Heald's 11 regional campuses is managed by a multitude of Microsoft SQL Serve databases, which manage data ranging from student prospect information through managing each student's grades and attendance, billing and financials as well as the general ledger and human resource areas.

Heald runs both SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 databases in their environment, ranging in size from one megabyte to more than 80 gigabytes. Heald College's SQL Server environment consists of 16 production and five test/quality assurance instances. The college's portal system is the most heavily utilized, with up to 200 connections at any given time.

"StrataVia's managed service for database administration is very attractive to us for a number of reasons, said Paula Smith, Director, Applications and Support, at Heald College. "One is because we have a small staff that is already taxed. In our previous environment, we had one DBA who was responsible for not only all of the system maintenance that needed to be done, but also for ensuring that the systems were up and running - no easy chore. Performance needs, best practices needs - a lot of tasks were being left undone," she said.

"Database administration issues used to consume most of my time, but I am now untaxed by the database environment," Smith continued. "We had a lot of open trouble tickets that are now being closed quickly with the assistance of StrataVia. Our internal bottlenecks have been removed."

According to Smith, refreshing the college's many SQL Server databases used to take the DBA three to four days. "We have worked with StrataVia so that our refresh scripts are now fully automated," she said. "In addition, our daily check list, which we used to go through manually each morning to ensure our systems were up and running at optimal levels, is now fully automated using StrataVia's Data Palette. It used to take our DBA about eight hours to perform the same tasks manually. Now we simply review the email reports generated by Data Palette each morning."

According to Smith, her small IT staff is no longer saturated with mundane activities that inhibited the college's ability to finish project work. "StrataVia is handling the routine tasks for us, enabling us to focus on other IT tasks such as performance tuning and data delivery. We are not only saving significant money on our DBA costs, we are also getting more things done using StrataVia and Data Palette.

"Not only have we been able to reduce our database administration costs by more than 45 percent, we have been able to reap the benefits of 24 by seven support, reports, tools and automation, and greatly improved project productivity." Smith said. "Since we are getting past the housekeeping, we have seen 100 percent improvement in getting to projects that have been on our plate for up to three years. Heald College has embraced StrataVia as part of the IT team - as a true partner that is considered part of the application support group."

Power & Tel Calls on Information Builders as its Business Intelligence Standard

Power & Telephone Supply Company (Power & Tel) selected Information Builders as its enterprise business intelligence (BI) standard for reporting and information delivery. Power & Tel compared BI solutions from many vendors extensively before selecting WebFOCUS as the tool that could help reduce development costs and improve delivery speeds.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Power & Telephone Supply Company is the largest independent distributor of material for the telecommunications and cable TV industries worldwide, reaching customers in 62 countries. The company stocks more than 10,000 cable television and telecommunications products from top manufacturers worldwide and serves customers in an array of markets including cable TV, independent telephone, rural utility services, international/multilingual, and government. Power & Tel's material management, bar-coding, forecasting software, emergency response, point-of-sale reporting, and other services help companies consistently get the right material, at the right place, and at the right time.

"We evaluated BI solutions from Cognos, Business Objects, Hyperion, and Information Builders before choosing WebFOCUS," commented Rafael Rangel, director of International Business at Power & Telephone Supply. "WebFOCUS best demonstrated the ability to reduce our development cost and improve delivery speed through simple and flexible reports. Its structured ad-hoc reports could be rolled out faster and to more departments without additional training, letting us quickly realize return on our investment."

Information Builders' WebFOCUS is a comprehensive and fully integrated enterprise business intelligence platform whose architecture, integration, and simplicity permeate every level of the global organization - executive, analytical, and operational. WebFOCUS makes any data available, accessible, and meaningful to every application and person who needs it, when and how they need it.

Another factor in Power & Tel's decision to select WebFOCUS was the product's practical and user-friendly approach. WebFOCUS' mature delivery model supports offline access; and WebFOCUS Active Reports, PivotTable support, and two-way e-mail capabilities ensured Power & Tel could support customers, suppliers, and field sales staff anywhere in the world.

"Our team was looking for more than a reporting solution," said Dennis Dominioni, director of Information Technology for Power & Tel. "We were looking for a partner to make our information delivery strategy a reality. We compared vendors based on product capability, responsiveness, and cost - but also on professionalism and responsiveness. The Information Builders services team brought a lot of relevant experience to the table, listened to our needs, asked good questions, and mapped out a plan for success. At the end of the day, their apparent synergies with our business practices made it easy to select Information Builders as our BI partner."

Information Builders worked with Power & Tel to implement the WebFOCUS Business Intelligence Dashboard and Developer Studio, which include a complete back-end environment for data access, integration, and event monitoring.

"The telecommunications and energy sectors have faced relentless competition in recent years, impacting profit margins and heightening the need for consolidated reporting solutions," said Gerald Cohen, CEO of Information Builders. "Customer-driven companies like Power & Tel, which serve and supply these volatile markets, need smarter and faster business intelligence to ensure customer service and satisfaction."

Cobweb Selects EMC to Weave Perfect SAN Solution

Cobweb Solutions, Europe's leading provider of Microsoft Hosted Exchange services for small and medium businesses, has chosen a new storage solution from EMC and MTI to support delivery of its managed services to customers on a 24x7 basis, while meeting fast growing customer demand and capacity requirements.

The number of mailboxes and the amount of data held within them managed by Cobweb increases on a monthly basis - it has doubled the number of customers in the past year alone, and now has more than 4 Terabytes of emails stored in total. This rapid growth meant that Cobweb's existing storage was starting to come under pressure, and recognized the need to invest in a new solution to cope with the increasing customer demand.

Following an in-depth review, including internal workshops and demonstrations of the products available, Cobweb selected EMC and its systems integrator MTI, purchasing two EMC CLARiiON CX700 arrays to provide the core of its storage area network. These provide redundant storage for Cobweb's multiple Hosted Exchange platforms. MTI designed the EMC solution to have a three-year lifecycle including 24x7 support and maintenance.

"The EMC solution was chosen for four reasons" explains Mark Adams, managing director at Cobweb. "First, the very high levels of reliability, performance and scalability of the storage platform, plus the quality of support from our EMC supplier - MTI. The quality and the ease-of-use of the products is very impressive and finally the overall solution, including maintenance and support, provides great value for money."

Following the deployment, future capacity and performance are no longer issues. Reliability and performance have increased and backup windows have been significantly reduced. The improved capacity has even enabled Cobweb to increase the amount of storage given to customers when they purchase additional or new mailboxes - meaning Cobweb can offer an improved service.

"As demand grows we will turn again to EMC, and utilize MTI's services and expertise, when adding additional capacity to the EMC arrays. We will continue to use EMC solutions because we know with them we can deliver the best, most reliable and cost effective managed services to our customers, and can continue to grow our business on this basis.

The 300,000 investment in the EMC Clariion infrastructure is part of over 1,000,000 that Cobweb has invested in our service delivery platform and capabilities in the last 18 months. These investments have included a move to new offices, the upgrade of our Network Operations Centre, providing MessageLabs Email Protect services to all our Hosted Exchange customers and achieving ISO27001 accreditation." Adams concludes.

Cobweb has delivered business critical services to its customers since its launch as a business-to-business ISP in 1996, and the experience gained over these ten years underlies its capabilities to meet and exceed customer's needs and expectations. With data centres in London and Fareham, Cobweb is Europe's leading provider of Microsoft Hosted Exchange services, with over 3,000 customers managing over 30,000 mailboxes.

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For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Integration.

This piece has been brought to you by the DM Review Editorial staff.



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