Tapping dual data warehouses with SAP BW, Cognos combo

Eastman Chemical is using Cognos to tap into two data warehouses during an SAP Business Warehouse migration project. It's part of a project to standardize on SAP NetWeaver.

Executives at Eastman Chemical have been on a mission to standardize on SAP and create an integrated service-oriented architecture.

The project, which began last year, includes implementing NetWeaver and migrating the company's homegrown data warehouse completely to SAP Business Warehouse in a three year phased approach. To enable end users to tap data located in both data warehouses, Eastman selected Cognos for reporting tools, according to Larry Perdue, IT manager of business marketing and sales solutions at Eastman Chemical.

"In moving to SAP BW we needed a transition plan, because it's a significant amount of effort to complete and we want to make sure we don't disrupt our end users in the process," Perdue said.

Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical is a maker of polyester plastics found in packaging materials. The company tries to be ahead of its peers in terms of technology to gain a competitive edge, according to Perdue.

More than 10 years of data will be migrated to SAP BW over the next four years. The lack of an archiving strategy for the growing data warehouse is resulting in poor performance, Perdue said. The data covers more than 40 topic areas, from procurement to shipments, historical sales and earnings. It runs the gamut, Perdue said.

"If you don't go in and clean out the attic, it gets really cluttered," he said. "It's been more and more difficult for our users to access and find the right data."

Eastman has also had to hire extra staff to support maintaining and keeping the data accurate and organized, Perdue said. Cognos was the right fit to tap both data warehouses since end users were already trained on Cognos's BI tools, he said. Cognos ReportNet provides the connection, he said.

The company is starting with procurement and accounts payable data. To begin the migration, the company will migrate its legacy Cognos Impromptu reports to ReportNet, Perdue said. In all, between 1,500 and 3,000 reports will be moved to Cognos's latest reporting software.

"We chose to do [a] strategy we call lift and shift," he said. "We're basically taking our impromptus and creating a migration factory to move reports from one tool to another."

Migrating the data from the legacy Impromptu application has been difficult. The company has confronted a number of challenges since it began migrating the data, including a decision of whether to use a costly consulting firm to outsource the whole project. Instead, it found an independent software vendor that could tap the archaic report data and migrate it to Cognos's latest version.

The process includes tapping the reports manually to finish the final pieces of the XML file conversion, as well as to conduct a quality check to make sure all the SQL statements are correct, Perdue said.

"SAP had tools out of BW, but it didn't have anything that could bridge BW and the [Eastman Information Warehouse] at the same time," Perdue said.

When the project is complete, Eastman will standardize on the mySAP Business Suite and use Cognos to tap SAP BW and build reports.

"The end users are banging on our door and saying we're not deploying fast enough," Perdue said. "They see the benefit of this project and the intuitive tools and additional capabilities we'll have."

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