Caltex takes data warehousing steps

Caltex Australia has taken the first step towards possible implementation of an enterprise-wide data warehouse, based on SAP R/3 data, with its acquisition of a suite of SAS warehousing tools.

Caltex sales reporting system project leader, Steve Nalty said the acquisition of the SAS/Access to R/3 tool was a critical element of a forthcoming data warehousing pilot involving some 30 marketing department users.

The tool is expected to be used to access and extract data from the SAP system, with part of the process involving building a SAS database hosted on a new Hewlett-Packard K570 server. The database is to be administered using the SAS Warehouse Administrator product. End user access to the database is via the Enterprise Reporter product, which allows them to query the database.

The implementation is expected to go live in conjunction with Caltex Australia's three year SAP R/3 project, scheduled for May 1 this year.

Nalty said the enterprise had decided to go for the pilot rather than the 'big bang' data warehouse implementation. He said the latter approach involved "making a huge lot of assumptions" in terms of how data should be structured for retrieval, as well as "lack of experience in what users require" from the warehouse.

He said the reason for building the database on the K570 server rather than a server used for the SAP production system was to ensure the load created by end user ad hoc reporting did not interfere with system response.

He said the other reason for going for the tool was the need to secure rapid access to information, which was not always available via SAP's ABAP/4 object programming language and "which is also extremely expensive".

The SAS/Access to R/3 tool replaces a Ramis mainframe-based data querying system.

Caltex is implementing the SAP oil industry vertical module, the financials module and the controlling module, while the company's refinery is implementing the plant maintenance module.

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