Cleaning up Databases to Save Time... and Money

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Before a global consulting firm integrated new software into its 5-terabyte database, the company's IT staff spent so much time cleaning up their information that bigger projects had to take a back seat.

IT workers at Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting and outsourcing company based in Lincolnshire, Il., had gotten used to spending many tedious hours searching through their IBM Lotus Domino servers and racking through confusing Domino logs to determine which applications weren't being used, costing the company lots of hard drive space and money.

To solve this problem they recently started using DYS Analytics' Control Usage Investigator (CUI) software.

Now, Hewitt's IT staff can work on other projects while the CUI program cleans up their servers, says Scott Pitts, manager of Hewitt's Knowledge Management Infrastructure Group.

''(CUI) is saving us money,'' says Pitts. ''We don't need people to baby-sit the servers anymore.''

The CUI program is DYS' answer to an IT need to make messaging and collaboration applications run more efficiently, says Drew Wolff, vice president of products at DYS. He says CUI software monitors and analyzes application usage, and traffic and performance levels throughout entire networks, allowing organizations to determine which applications were being used and which ones were simply wasting time and money.

Prior to adopting the CUI software, Pitts says his IT staff had to look through Domino logs to figure out which applications and user ID's were no longer needed. This process was time consuming and expensive, he adds.

''It was too much to check through by hand,'' says Pitts. ''The Domino logs were hard to understand. We were not doing it efficiently.''

Matt Cain, a Domino analyst at META Group, Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based analyst and research firm, says the CUI software solves a business problem created by the excessive amounts of unused Lotus Notes applications running on Domino systems.

''A tech-savvy business person can write his own Domino applications easily, which ends up with lots of applications going unused,'' says Cain. ''Some companies have thousands of Lotus applications with 20 to 30 percent not being used, just taking up space. This creates a liability on the system.''

CUI spots these unused applications and cleans up systems, Cain explains. And Pitt adds that by eliminating such idle applications, the IT staff at Hewitt was able to free up a lot of hard disc space.

''We aren't spending money on adding new disc space to the servers because of databases that aren't being used,'' says Pitt.

The CUI software also allows Hewitt IT staff to work on other important projects, instead of manually searching through the servers for these unnecessary applications.

''We used to have to do about 20 percent of this work by hand,'' says Pitts. ''If there were less than five people using a database, it was hard to tell that when reading a log.''

DYS' CUI is designed to solve such problems.

The Wellesley, Mass.-based provider of application performance software released the CUI product as part of its CONTROL! family of application performance management solutions for collaboration environments this past January. While DYS currently offers solutions for Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, IBM Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing (formerly Sametime), and IBM Team Workplace, the CUI is used solely with IBM Lotus Domino.

''CUI provides analysis reports of what's happening with the collaboration of an application so IT can 'efficientize' this (process), reduce the cost of ownership and increase the quality of service,'' says Wolff.

He also notes that beside its database-clean-up capabilities, CUI also picks out which user profiles are not needed. Employees frequently come and go in organizations for a variety of reasons. CUI determines when an employee has left the company, or is on a leave of absence.

''Instead of having to go out and buy new user licences from platform vendors, IT can recycle or retire the ID for the next employee,'' says Wolff. ''This also saves on maintenance fees.''

Wolff also says CUI's Application Rationalization abilities are aimed at organizations with remote offices. The software determines which applications should be placed on the remote offices' networks, as well as where it's not efficient to install them.

Pitts says Hewitt has about 87 worldwide remote offices, and about 300 global Domino servers, with more than 20,000 desktops accessing Domino applications. He says these networks are much easier to monitor with the CUI software.

''We get monthly reports which help us keep track of what is being replicated... and what replicated data is really needed,'' says Pitts. ''CUI goes through and cleans up everything for us.''

Wolff adds the CUI software has a ''work flow process'' designed to assure that databases aren't deleted before they need to be. A company may only need an application at the end of the year, or a user ID may simply be unused while the employee is out on a leave-of-absence. CUI is designed to detect these special situations.

''As the company grows, people put stuff on the databases and it grows,'' says Pitts. ''Usually if you need to add (an application), you can delete one too.''

CUI has security benefits, as well. The software looks at who is using which database and which users are trying to gain access to certain information, as well as who shouldn't be accessing a database, Wolff says.

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