Replication Acceleration

Hydrite Chemical needed to reduce ERP data replication for its sales force. Stampede Technologies' TurboGold 4.2 helped the IT staff reduce bandwidth costs, shorten replication time and improve data accuracy.

Hydrite Chemical understands that its outside salespeople are the lifeblood of the company. So, about a year ago, when the $200 million specialty chemical maker's 54 sales reps complained about how it could take more than two hours to replicate legacy ERP data, the company's IT staff knew it had to improve the network's performance.

Jim Krueger, the Brookfield, Wis. company's director of information services, says the sales reps replicate ERP data on IBM ThinkPads with Lotus Notes via an AS/400 server. Along with standard e-mail, the reps also use Lotus Notes to access various ERP applications, such as the company's customer complaint system, price changes and lab requests. Roughly half the users can replicate up to 30 databases daily. File sizes range from 8MB to 10MB with some packing more than 8,000 records. Krueger says the problem was that replicating these applications over a 56-Kbps dial-up connection was simply too slow.

"The salespeople complained that the replication process was slowing down the day," says Krueger. "Replication would take a lot of time either at the beginning or end of the day, and sometimes reps wouldn't do it at all, which would mean replication would take even longer the next day. Another problem was that the salespeople wouldn't know which version of the data was the most current."

Product Information
TurboGold 4.2
Stampede Technologies
Dayton, Ohio
(937) 291-5035
www.stampede.com

The solution was TurboGold from Stampede Technologies. TurboGold, which was installed on Hydrite's AS/400 Lotus Notes server last fall, uses special algorithms to compress the ERP data and put it into a continuous stream, minimizing the handshaking that typically takes place for each Lotus Notes packet. TurboGold also lets Hydrite cache the data on both the users' laptops and the Domino servers, a feature that considerably reduces stress on the dial-up network. Hydrite has most of the laptop users replicate Lotus Notes e-mail, which has sped up e-mail processing over the network.

"It's an easy tool to use," says Norma Smith, Hydrite's senior programming analyst. "I had it installed in 30 minutes and pretty much knew what I was doing within an hour. The other nice feature is when it came time to update to the latest version of TurboGold, I sent it to the users via e-mail and it went very well. It was basically a one-click update."

Krueger points to three main benefits from using TurboGold:

  • Reduced bandwidth costs. Hydrite can potentially save 50 percent of its $35,000 annual dial-up costs by compressing data. It expects to save the other half by installing a VPN.

  • Shorter replication times. Salespeople report dramatic reductions. In some cases, replication time was reduced to roughly 30 minutes from well in excess of two hours. More typically, replication time was reduced from 40 minutes to 20 minutes. In one case, a salesperson replicated 1,200 documents in 58 seconds, an 80 percent savings.

  • More accurate data. Because replication is much quicker, the salespeople now are more likely to replicate every day. Daily data synchronization makes for more accurate data.

Krueger says improving network traffic performance paves the way for the company to more easily roll out customer relationship management applications. Krueger says that when Hyrdrite deploys various CRM apps for its salespeople, such as sales presentations and templates for customer letters, Hydrite should experience fewer network bottlenecks.

"Salespeople are essential to our success and the better we serve them, the better they serve our customers," Kreuger says.

Details: Hydrite Chemical

Team leader: Jim Krueger, director of information services

Organization: Hydrite Chemical Co.

Business: Hydrite is a privately-held specialty chemical manufacturer and distributor with about $200 million in annual sales. Hydrite offers both organic and inorganic chemistry in a broad variety of concentrations and package sizes, primarily to Midwest markets.

Location: Headquartered in Brookfield, Wis.

Web Site: www.hydrite.com

Goal: Reduce database replication time on Lotus Notes applications that are integrated with Hydrite's ERP system

Scope: An outside sales force of 54 people dial in to the corporate network with IBM ThinkPads, replicate 30 databases with ERP information, some holding more than 8,000 documents. Salespeople also replicate applications for cost and price management, customer complaints, laboratory requests, eSales CRM, sales history, and e-mail.

Equipment/Platform:

  • Application servers: 2 AS/400s, one for Lotus Notes, the other for a Baan ERP system

  • Lotus Notes

  • 54 laptops

Solution: Hydrite reports it took 30 minutes to install TurboGold 4.2 on the server and 30 minutes to install the client software and learn the system. The first 21 laptops were loaded in one day while the salespeople attended a sales meeting. No user training was required. Updating to a new version was simple. The upgrade was sent to the user via Lotus Notes e-mail.

Product: TurboGold 4.2 from Stampede Technologies

Costs:

  • 54 client licenses: $4,965

  • AS/400 Server Software: $3,148

  • Maintenance Plan: $1,412

  • Total $9,525

Results:

  • The company expects to slash its $35,000 annual dial-up costs in half.

  • Replication times dropped from more than 2 hours (in some cases) to 30 minutes. Most 40-minute replications dropped to 20 minutes.

  • Replication occurrence increased, reducing errors and improving accuracy of legacy ERP data.

About the Author

Steve Zurier is a technology writer based in the Washington D.C. area. He specializes in covering internetworking and communications technologies.