Garage door maker The Chamberlain Group Inc. made its Hollywood debut a few years ago in the movie Space Cowboys. In an opening scene, Clint Eastwood is installing one of the company's garage door openers.
Clint may or may not have completed the installation -- the audience never learns that one gripping detail -- but one thing is for sure, despite the movie star's hero status on and off the screen, it's doubtful he could have helped The Chamberlain Group with one of its most pressing IT issues: how to get the most up-to-date data to its field sales force while maintaining data integrity.
Instead, that task was left to David Gillhouse, The Chamberlain Group's vice president of information technology.
The company needed to get its IT staff members 24/7 access to the latest data so they could develop special reports and queries as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.
With a large number of applications running on different systems in two different locations, Gillhouse said it was a challenge to support rapid systems recovery, maintain data in real-time across all three systems and handle high-volume transactions with accuracy.
Solution: a scalable data integration system that moves data in real-time between the company's iSeries-based systems while ensuring high-speed operational switching and uninterrupted service round the clock.
"We needed a solution that could guarantee that the information in our data warehouse, decision support, [and other locations] agreed completely and that we keep information current on all the various platforms," Gillhouse said.
The Chamberlain Group recently received Search400.com's IT Excellence Award for Scalability for implementing a scalable solution for business analysis that includes high-velocity data replication and a high-performance query environment.
The Chamberlain Group is a subsidiary of Duchossois Industries Inc., a privately held Fortune 1,000 corporation. Based in Elmhurst, Ill., The Chamberlain Group is one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial door operators and residential garage door openers. The Chamberlain Group's products are sold under the LiftMaster, MotorLift, Sentex, Power Drive and Whisper Drive brand names.
During the past several years, the company has diversified its product offerings to include telephone entry systems, gate openers and other access control products. Additionally, The Chamberlain Group manufactures products for a number of private brands, including Craftsman for Sears.
The Chamberlain Group deploys a distributed processing strategy in which its enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications -- the manufacturing and order fulfillment applications -- run on two separate IBM iSeries systems housed in different locations.
The manufacturing applications are located on an AS/400 in Nogales, Mexico, and the order fulfillment applications run on an AS/400 in Elmhurst, Ill.
So three years ago, after evaluating three other software solutions, The Chamberlain Group opted for solutions from Markham, Ontario-based DataMirror Corp. The Chamberlain Group implemented DataMirror Transformation Server to integrate data in real-time between its systems. The company also implemented DataMirror High Availability Suite into its Nogales operations in August 2000 and into its Elmhurst operations in March 2001.
According to Gillhouse, this particular solution was selected because of its robust Windows NT and AS/400 capabilities, as well as its price, performance and low operating overhead costs.
"At the time, [DataMirror] had the best solution to replicate data between AS/400 and NT platforms," Gillhouse said. "That was critical, because we do a lot on the NT platform."
DataMirror Transformation Server is a software solution that allows users to capture, transform and flow their data in real-time between DB2 UDB, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and Sybase, and to move XML across UNIX, Linux, Microsoft Window NT/2000/XP, OS/400, OS/390 and z/OS systems.
High Availability Suite is a single integrated product that captures iSeries (AS/400) objects and database transactions from primary systems and mirrors them in real-time to one or more recovery iSeries systems. It can detect primary system failure and invoke high-speed switching to enable continuous business operations and 24/7 availability for your critical data assets.
The company is now also able to minimize the risk of downtime and customer service interruption as well as avoid the costs of both planned and unplanned downtime -- which The Chamberlain Group estimated to be $30,000 per hour.
According to Gillhouse, The Chamberlain Group is also able to process more than 27 million transactions daily on 64 tables ranging from seven records to over 6 million records. It mirrors 24 million transactions each day in its two locations to enable continuous availability. It provides more than 1,000 employees, customers and dealers with real-time 24/7 access to key business information. In addition, it reduced IT spending by approximately 20%.