In-Depth

Boise Cascade takes page out of Wall Data's book

Randy Lewen is manager of application development at Boise Cascade Office Products, a Chicago-based business-to-business distributor. He and his colleagues have defined the future technology direction of the corporation as intranet -- that is the intranet as a mode for both applications delivery and for fielding analytical queries.

The company is capitalizing on its experience with the Arpeggio product line from Wall Data Inc., Kirkland, Wash. -- which it uses for distributed queries -- and developing a comprehensive data warehousing intranet based on Wall Data's new Cyberprise product set.

"We are multiple platform/ multiple sites," said Lewen. The data stores that Lewen's crew draws on include mainframe-based IBM DB2 configurations, AS/400-based DB2 setups and assorted NT boxes running Oracle databases. "We also have NT boxes with Arbor [Software's] Essbase 'cubes,'" he said.

When Application Development Trends talked to Lewen, he had been working with Cyberprise for about five months. All told, he was connecting the analytical server to about 300Gb of off-line data.

Using Cyberprise, end users can query, analyze, report and publish data via a familiar Web browser interface. Access to databases is allowed via the Cyberprise InfoPublisher; the Cyberprise Report, Query and Cube Designer; and the Cyberprise Cube option, which supports Olap functionality.

With all of this, the specific benefit Lewen points to is that a small, centralized group can manage an intranet capable of analyzing data.

"We have Arbor cubes," said Lewen, "but to build the cube is, to say the least, intensive." This may be due, in part, to the number and variety of databases that Boise Cascade must configure the Arbor Olap engine to analyze. DBAs with experience in mainframes are needed. However, "the results are nice when you build it," said Lewen.

Using the Cyberprise software from Wall Data, a company with a considerable lineage in diverse data access, Lewen said, "I don't have to go to DBAs to have them spend a lot of time building something."

While he judged his company's mostly Cobol-related year 2000 remediation efforts well in hand, he said that "not using Cobol programmers [for this project] is a benefit to the company."

Cyberprise's implementation of Microsoft Active Server technology for converting analyzed data to HTML for browser presentation also gains Lewen's accolades. "With ASP [Active Server Pages] I don't have to hire a C [capable] programmer to build the delivery mechanisms for Java or CGI programs."

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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