Scalability Is a Big

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-03-10 Print this article Print

Question Mark"> What are the issues with the technology itself, though, outside of lack of success stories and whether theres training for the product? Scalability is one big question mark, Zornes said, although the CDI Institute expects CDH to ramp up well over the coming 18 months as the product is fine-tuned and as the user base grows. Oracle does boast of Dell Inc., a CDH customer that has to handle some 200 million customers. "They are our high-water mark," said Peter Heller, senior director of Customer Data Hubs at Oracle. "They require two million updates per day."
Cisco Systems Inc. is another customer, with four million customers, and Oracle also lists telcos with millions of customers as being CDH users.
However, "Theyre the high-end IT shops," Zornes said. "The other people took a variation on this, Oracle Customers Online, and built their own middleware. But they have 20,000 customers, not millions or tens of millions of customers. "Theyre on the low end, and they were able to take advantage of Oracles data quality routines and Oracles data model, which is a nice data model. And they built something that works. And theyre all looking to migrate onto Oracles products, because they dont want to be in the business of supporting the applications they custom-crafted." But its not size that matters, Heller says. Oracle is solving integration needs of two types of business, and one of those types is enterprises with smaller customer headcounts but more data sources. Heller pointed to one CDH customer in France with 80 data sources, while some CDH customers have over 200. "Its not surprising," he said. "For any company of any size, you ask how many customer lists they have. … Everybody, even the smallest companies, have exactly the same problems as the bigger companies." One early CDH adopter, IHOP Corp. CIO and vice president of IT Patrick Piccininno, praised CDHs ability to deliver a unified view of the restaurant franchisors customers, employees and franchisee community. The company went to CDH from a system of stand-alone spreadsheets and Microsoft Access databases to track its pancake customer interaction, as well as to stay on top of its franchisees and restaurants. While his is not an enterprise that will need to handle millions of rows per hour anytime soon, Piccininno said that he believes CDH will scale "well past wherever IHOP will take it." "We dont believe well have a scale issue, either from the database or the architecture weve deployed," he said. "Were probably just scratching the surface. We have 1,200 restaurants, 400 franchisees and 55,000 employees, with 3,000 to 5,000 calls per month in our call center via e-mail and telephone, and the systems barely breathing hard." Granted, IHOP had to do some customizing, having to build utilization of flex fields and extensions to applications to help meet requirements specific to the restaurant and hospitality industry that werent available in Oracles horizontal solution. The payoff, however, has been worth it, Piccininno said. "Is the technology perfect? Of course not," he said. "Is everything as advertised out of the box? No, its not. But when youre making technology decisions, especially in the enterprise space, Id argue youre picking not so much the technology of today, but youre betting with organizations who ultimately get it, wholl develop and enhance it, and who share your strategy of where the tool needs to get. "Oracle is clearly on an evolutionary path. And youre clearly trying to pick the vendor wholl be around in the long term, who can get you where you ultimately need to be. Was it a perfect product? Far from it. Have we experienced challenges along the way? Absolutely we have. Will we see value from the tools? Of course we will. Otherwise we wouldnt invest in the technology to fulfill the long-term strategy." Next Page: Vendor viability vs. best of breed.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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