Three-tier warehouse manages all right for Shell
Application Development Trends'
2002 Innovator Awards
Faced with an increasing need for fast, accurate and up-to-date operational
information, Shell Oil Products set out to develop a cost-efficient management
information solution that could be rolled out worldwide, accommodate changes
quickly and be capable of providing information in a simple, accessible
format worldwide. Shell needed a common data warehouse across its Oil
Products that could deliver harmonized, segmented management information
appropriate for each country and enable the aggregation of data for regional
and global reporting.
A lack of flexible data warehousing solutions on the market forced the
organization to develop its own data warehouse solution. So it established
a spin-off of the Royal/Dutch Shell Group, Kalido Ltd., London, and invested
$20 million in research and development over a five-year period to build
the Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse.
Prior to implementing the warehouse, Shell developed tailored warehouse
implementations such as extraction, load and reporting programs from scratch,
all based around a specific business model implemented in a traditional
relational database. "These solutions are designed to meet a specific
need at a point in time and all depend on that relational structure,"
noted Charles Manly, Kalido Ltd. director of operations.
If the structure needs to change at any point, the relational model needs
to change and all the associated programs need to be rewritten and tested,
which is often the reason these projects fail or have huge, ongoing maintenance
The greatest challenge in implementing the Kalido Warehouse was to develop
a generic software application to solve a specific business problem. This
created heightened risks in overall costs and performance, as well as
the possibility that some detailed requirements of specific business problems
might be difficult to accommodate in a generic solution.
Kalido came up with a common data warehouse that Shell has come to rely
upon as the heart of its MIS system for its entire Oil Products business.
"We have a federated warehouse of 80-plus Kalido instances around
the world loading data locally, feeding into zonal and finally a global
Kalido Warehouse," Manly explained. Shell also uses the software
for category management in its gas stations.
The Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse uses pre-built structures that
only require customization for specific market uses. It has the unique
ability to handle business information in its original form, including
both incomplete and incompatible information. By decoupling the business
rules and the database schema, the warehouse provides significantly lower
So far, annual maintenance costs with Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse
are typically at least 50% below those for a comparable, conventional
data warehouse because the app does not require sources to use precisely
the same data models and reference data.
Once installed, Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse can automatically
adjust to a company's structural changes, giving users consistent access
to current data. The app learns the rules and dynamics of businesses and
allows firms to isolate trends and patterns. It uses industry-standard
technologies such as Oracle for data storage, and is compatible with decision
support and data query tools such as Microsoft Excel and Business Objects'
BusinessObjects. In addition, Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse complements
the capabilities of major ERP systems.
Because Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse integrates and manages a
business' reference, or meta, data, it can manage data stored in disparate
locations and inconsistent structures, allowing multiple views of business
information to be generated dynamically.
Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse's ability to compare, integrate
and store data from multiple sources, regardless of the data structure,
allows both business and IT users to create data marts (or reports) for
specific tasks, such as evaluating costs, examining corporate revenues
and measuring profitability. Because of this ability, the warehouse is
already in use in the areas of finance, human resources, retail, oil,
marine and aviation.
The project required buy-in from Shell's independent operating companies
in various countries. Kalido Ltd. realized that buy-in as a result of
a successful pilot project in Australia. Users were involved throughout
the project in overall requirements, setting and ensuring the flexibility
and usability of the final product.
The majority of the development team brought expertise in C++ and Java,
while others contributed expertise in Oracle, DB2, SQL Server and Visual
Kalido Ltd. developed Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse specifically
to manage reference data on a global scale for one of the largest and
most complex global organizations in the world, Shell Oil Products. The
success of this project has opened other doors for Kalido Ltd., which
has signed license deals with Unilever, Philips, Cadbury/Schweppes and
the Halifax Group Plc.
Above: Coman Wakefield and Chris Angus
Project: Kalido Dynamic
Purpose: To provide a common data warehouse
across Shell Oil products; to deliver harmonized, segmented management
information that supports the business at a country level; and to
enable aggregation of data for regional and global reporting.
Benefits: Global connections, lower costs,
agility, flexibility and integration.
Platforms: Client: Windows 95/98/2000/NT/XP; App server: Windows 2000, NT4; Database server: Windows 2000, NT4, HP-UX, Solaris, Compaq True 64, IBM AIX
This project was developed to manage the global information requirements for one of the largest and most complex multinational organizations in the world, Shell Oil Products. Kalido Ltd. itself is a spin-off of a Shell division. The Kalido Dynamic Information Warehouse is in its sixth release and is deployed in more than 80 countries with more than 100 installations.
Kalido's innovation lies in its generic, customizable, cost-effective approach to data acquisition, data integration and information delivery in a large corporation. Kalido's architecture capitalizes on an open systems solution coupled with a flexible, data-driven model that allows for a dynamic, flexible incorporation of critical business reference data -- the data that comprises the key dimensions or indicators for the critical data warehouse goal of Business Performance Measurement.
Kalido's open, three-tier architecture, as well as its standard industry development environment, including MS Visual
C++ v6.0, XML, SOAP, J2EE and .NET services, allow for an implementation
platform based on a best-of-breed, industry-standard data warehouse
and business intelligence technologies such as Oracle, MS SQL Server,
Business Objects, Cognos and Excel 2000. This same open, customizable
approach added to Kalido's business benefit and ROI when used in
conjunction with ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle and JD Edwards.
Team Leader: Jack Fuchs, Senior Principal Consultant, Keane Inc.
Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.