Reporting is key to business success, but it relies on fresh, accurate data. See how data replication provides a low-latency, near real-time solution to this challenge and how one of our partners delivered on this with astounding success.
Insightful and accurate reporting can make the difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one. With the right reports, businesses can dramatically improve their ability to make proactive decisions, seizing new opportunities as soon as they present themselves. While the specific reporting needs of any given enterprise will vary, that value of good reporting is persistent across the board.
However, the amount of data generated by businesses every day has skyrocketed in recent years, which means creating reports has become increasingly challenging. Reports are designed to tell a story, answering the “who,” “what,” “where,” “why” and “how” questions that many modern companies face. But your reports need to take into account all of your company's data and this data must be up to date—otherwise, your reports could be telling a very misleading story.
Data replication plays a pivotal part in addressing at least one of these concerns—the freshness of the data. Traditionally, updating a database was a time-consuming, resource-intensive process, which is why many businesses did it during off-hours when it had minimal impact to operations. However, today, many enterprises need access to data in real time.
A data replication solution enables you to easily and effectively replicate data from one database to a separate database. Change Data Capture (CDC) is the key technology in this process, giving businesses the ability to identify and capture only the data in the database that changes and transfer this data to the target database. The end result is low-latency, near real-time replication of data to support reporting efforts—as well as anything else that relies on accurate data, like predictive analytics, time-sensitive IoT events and AI.
The LexisNexis Challenge: When Overnight ETL is No Longer Enough
Since reporting is such a hot topic, the OpenEdge team recently hosted a webinar with one of our OpenEdge Partners, LexisNexis. This case study offers a great real-world example of some of the challenges discussed above and how our customers can solve them.
If you’re not familiar with LexisNexis, let me give you a quick high-level overview. LexisNexis is a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics to help its customers increase productivity, improve decision-making and outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. One of the solutions LexisNexis offers to customers is Visualfiles, which is the UK’s leading workflow and case management solution.
Visualfiles is used to automate legal processes, which it’s great at. But increasingly, LexisNexis faced a challenge—their clients’ clients needed real-time reporting. They wanted the flexibility to access information as soon as it was committed to the database. At the time, LexisNexis offered a solution that ran overnight, which already wasn’t ideal, and as data volumes grew, it became an even bigger problem—some clients were processing millions of transactions and had so much data it could no longer be updated in the overnight window.
LexisNexis explored a variety of options to solve this challenge. At first, they considered just putting their hands up and letting their customers solve the problem. After all, Visualfiles is a legal processes tool, not a reporting solution. But as you can imagine, this really wasn’t the ideal solution—businesses exist to serve their customers and deliver value and supporting those reporting needs was a huge opportunity for them.
So LexisNexis looked at developing something new, but this presented another challenge—starting from scratch was likely to take longer than they wanted and would require skills to support a new product.
Leveraging Data Replication via OpenEdge Pro2 for Real-Time Reporting
It was right around this time that Progress acquired BravePoint, which had its own data replication solution for OpenEdge called Pro2. We quickly worked on developing and expanding upon the product in subsequent releases, helping evolve the product into an effective data replication solution with native CDC that’s built into the OpenEdge database.
The timing was perfect — Visualfiles was an OpenEdge-based product that had been running on OpenEdge for years. The Pro2 solution itself also perfectly solved the challenge, and on top of that, it wasn’t adding a lot of overhead to the existing application.
Nigel Williams, who leads the product teams at LexisNexis, said it best on a recent webinar. “Now [we can deliver information in a timely fashion] with a near real-time feed. We're working with some large organizations that have incredibly high transactional processing volumes and they are working in sub-10-second synchronization. It's fantastic,”.
LexisNexis isn’t the only customer using OpenEdge Pro2 in this way, but the reason I wanted to highlight their implementation was because of the unique way it was integrated. LexisNexis took the Pro2 code and made it part of the Visualfiles application, requiring no bespoke customization, it’s enabled by applying a license key. This is huge for establishing a rock-solid foundation that can be built on for years to come, especially as the ecosystem of data expands beyond OpenEdge to the other third-party data stores that are required for modern-day reporting.
Understanding Data Replication and Its Business Impact
Data replication has a lot of common uses, from supporting disaster recovery efforts to enabling real-time reporting. You can learn more about how OpenEdge Pro2 helps replicate data with the help of CDC in this handy datasheet.
I would also encourage you to check out the LexisNexis case study video and webinar. They are a great example of how you can not only use data replication to provide real-time reporting capabilities, but also how you can evolve your OpenEdge application to continually provide more value to your customers.
Mike Furgal is Director of Database Services at Progress.
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