2010 Enterprise 2.0 Blazer: Manheim

2010 Enterprise 2.0 Blazer: User Experience Award

The User Experience Award was given to the customer with the best use of Enterprise 2.0 solutions to create a dynamic, intuitive user experience that is seamless and integrated with content & processes. This year's recipient was Manheim and the partner involved in the implementation was Idhasoft.

Manheim-Idhasoft.jpgCompany Background

 

Manheim is the world's leading provider of vehicle remarketing services, handling nearly 10 million used vehicles in 2009. Manheim needed to migrate vehicle images from a legacy system in order to lower costs associated with storing and serving up vehicle images, increase vehicle image capacity, and deploy a vehicle image system whose maintenance and future expansion could be performed using skills more readily available within Manheim and throughout the IT industry.

Business Challenges

Until recently, Manheim stored active auction vehicle images on a legacy AS/400 system.  This system was expensive to operate and maintain and available storage space was an ongoing issue. Adding extra storage to the existing AS/400 was prohibitively expensive -- so much so that some active auction vehicle images were moved to archive storage to free up space. This resulted in an unorthodox, hybrid image delivery system that was more difficult to maintain than the AS/400 alone. Also, since specialized skills (not readily available at Manheim or in the marketplace) were required to work on the AS/400, system operation and maintenance and any future development had to be handled completely by a third-party integrator. This meant that Manheim could not respond as quickly as they would like to the ever-increasing needs of image consumers.

Why Oracle?

Manheim asked vendors to bid on both the software and the services needed to create a new vehicle image management solution. Manheim entertained proposals from vendors with home-grown built packages to leading competitive products from IBM, HP, and open source software vendors. Oracle won the software deal with its Universal Content Management (UCM) suite of products due to its breadth and depth of capabilities, out-of-the-box features, and standards-based support for integration with other technologies such as the Manheim SOA stack. In addition, the Oracle solution would be an Enterprise product to support other use cases outside of the first implementation, such as document management and the integration with Oracle I/PM, which is already in use at Manheim in conjunction with Oracle iExpense.

Following the selection of UCM, Oracle Professional Services bid on the services portion of the project. However, Manheim was not happy with Oracle's proposed design as it required at least two renditions of every vehicle image to be stored in UCM: the original vehicle image and the standardized image created once it had been processed by the Inbound Refinery. This led the Oracle Software Sales Representative to bring in Idhasoft to provide a "second opinion".  An initial design session with Manheim's chief technical architect resulted in Idhasoft proposing a solution that resolved the image duplication problem. It also resulted in Idhasoft being awarded the services work to install UCM, implement a custom vehicle image management solution, and migrate the existing active and archived vehicle images to that new system.

Manheim needed to solve the following business and technical challenges:

  • Lower costs associated with storing and serving up vehicle images
  • Increase vehicle image capacity
  • Deploy a vehicle image system whose maintenance and future expansion can be performed using skills more readily available within Manheim and throughout the IT industry

The fact that the VIM system uses regular network storage devices to store both active and archived vehicle images as opposed to AS/400 storage, means that storage costs will be significantly less once migration to the VIM system has been completed. This along with the scalability of UCM ensures that Manheim will be able to store and serve more vehicle images than they can today using the legacy image server. The use of Web standards and Java coding for a large part of the VIM solution means that it will be easier to integrate VIM with other systems within Manheim. It also means it will be easier for Manheim to offer vehicle images to new customers in the future.

Solution Overview

A system using the following components of Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM) was designed and implemented by Idhasoft, a leading Oracle integration partner, to meet these needs:

  • Oracle Content Server 10gR3 with Retention Management
  • Digital Asset Management and Conversion 10gR3

The result was a system that provides Manheim with the capabilities they need today and that they will need in the future to grow their business. The primary objective of lowering costs meant that Manheim wanted to minimize the storage requirements of the new system and wanted to turn off the existing legacy AS/400 image server as quickly as possible in order to eliminate the extremely high storage and maintenance costs associated with operating the legacy system. To minimize storage, the new system keeps only a single high-resolution rendition of each vehicle image and down-scales on-the-fly when needed. The new system also uses the concept of an "image lease" to regulate the life span of vehicle images. Image consumers tell Manheim how long they will need a particular vehicle image by taking out a lease on that image. When all leases for an image have expired, Manheim knows that the image can be erased or archived to recover valuable high-speed storage space. The Idhasoft team leveraged the retention management capability of Oracle Content Server to implement this valuable capability. 

The desired rapid decommissioning of the existing legacy AS/400 image server was a more difficult objective. Turning off the existing system in its entirety meant not only migrating the tens of millions of vehicle images that consume over 3.5 TB of space without interrupting service, but also re-routing the channels that feed images into and take images out of the legacy server. Unfortunately, most of these processes developed and evolved over a long period of time and were not documented at all. Additionally, the re-routing of image channels was found to require the cooperation of several parties outside the control of the project team. This combination of factors along with the sheer volume of vehicle images meant that the complete migration away from the legacy image server would take well over a year. 

Therefore, instead of realizing savings by turning the legacy server off completely, the migration plan provides for early cost savings by lowering the storage requirements on the AS/400 each time a logical set of vehicle images is migrated to the new system and can be served up to image consumers from the new system infrastructure. This means that once all images have been migrated, the legacy system will in effect become a pass-thru until all image channels can be re-routed to and from the new system. Only after this has occurred can the legacy image server be turned off completely.

Manheim-Award.jpg
Accepting the award on behalf of Manheim was Rajiv Virmani, Enterprise Architect. Congratulations!

 

About Idhasoft

Having initiated operations in December 2006, today, Idhasoft Limited has emerged as a global business leader in New Generation Consulting. It is an Information Technology and Services Company with offices in 16 cities on 4 continents. Idhasoft intricately understands the varying needs of their customers and develops well-packaged solutions that exceed expectations. On time, cost-effective solutions have led Idhasoft to consistently serve as many as 1,500 clients, across the globe. They provide a complete holistic range of products and services by leveraging deep domain expertise and close-knit associations with leading technology companies.

Idhasoft's Strategic Consulting Practice could be from providing Real Time Solutions for High End Supply Chain Management, to implementing a fully-fledged Semi Conductor or Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing to Clinical Research or Content Management for an Educational Institution. They provide world-class quality management software services to SAP and Oracle Implementations. At Idhasoft, they can help with practically every aspect of their customer's business, thereby building a long-term 'strategic partner' relationship.

Learn more about Idhasoft's QuickStart Portal Solution in this podcast.

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