Steel supplier strengthens its SQL database

DJ Galvanizing Corp. announced Wednesday that it will start using Mimer SQL databases for its Windsor, Ont.-based galvanized steel facility.

DJ Galvanizing, a joint endeavour between Hamilton, Ont.-based steelmaker Dofasco Inc. and the JFE Steel Corp. of Japan, annually supplies more than 400,000 tonnes of hot-dip galvanized steel sheets for the automotive industry.

Within the IT environment, several HP Alpha OpenVMS systems control the automated production line. The company said it plans to use the Mimer SQL relational database management system (RDBMS) technology for production planning, quality control and administration of deliveries. Mike Soucie, information systems and technology coordinator at DJ Galvanizing said the databases will handle several mission-critical systems within the facility.

The company was seeking a cost-effective solution without having to migrate from OpenVMS, Soucie said. “To us, OpenVMS is the only system that should be used in a production environment,” Soucie said. It would have been a huge undertaking to migrate from OpenVMS, including changing interfaces and EDI software, he added.

In terms of integration, Mimer SQL was a good fit with the existing Cobol and Borland’s Delphi development environment, Soucie added.

Mimer SQL Engine 9.2 includes Large OBject (LOB) access, stored procedures, triggers and distributed transactions (XA and DTC) and comprehensible internationalization support. It also supports Unicode 4.0, which enables database programmers to sort character data to according to one of the predefined collation orderings, Mimer said.

After spending a year looking at various alternatives, Soucie said that the firm decided that the Mimer SQL was a cost-effective solution that enables embedded SQL for mission-critical applications, including in-house developed business applications, that run on the server.

“Not only does it have an ODBC driver that you can access the data from Windows, you can also migrate the existing Cobol legacy applications that run in batch to access the SQL data,” Soucie said.

There are more than 400,000 OpenVMS servers out there, and many of these are used in mission-critical environments like DJ Galvanizing, said Stefan Eck, product manager for Mimer.

Eck noted that data integration is a big challenge for enterprises right now, particularly as different database systems must communicate with each other. Most users must be able to access the data from the Internet or mobile clients while protecting the data from unauthorized use, Eck said.

Last spring IT research firm Gartner Inc., released its 2003 survey of the RDBMS market. The findings show that annual database sales rose in value by just over five per cent last year, from $6.7 billion in 2002 to almost $7.1 billion. That rise followed a decline between 2001 and 2002 of six per cent.

As more and more enterprises find that dealing with data integration is a major concern, RDBMS vendors — including Oracle Corp., IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. — have been responding in kind by bundling product functionality that extends and simplifies existing RDBMS offerings.

IBM Corp. for the second year in a row was the overall leader in RDBMS sales, with 35 per cent of the marketplace and US$2.5 billion in sales, up five per cent from 2002. Most of that growth came from DB2 sales on its iSeries and zSeries hardware platforms. Oracle held second place, with 32.6 per cent of the market and roughly US$2.3 billion in sales, up 2.4 per cent from 2002.

Despite the apparent upswing, Gartner claimed that much of that growth was due to changing currency rates rather than increased demand. The report shows that the RDBMS market is maturing, particularly as organizations again start to look at improving IT infrastructures.

What’s happening in the DBMS market is similar to what happened in the hardware business in the 1980s, Eck said. “We’re challenging Oracle’s de-facto monopoly with their Oracle and Rdb products…we offer a Mimer SQL license for OpenVMS for only US$5,000 per processor, which is only a fraction of what Oracle charges,” Eck said.

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