DHL replaces 50 databases with a single worldwide datawarehouse

Delivery firm DHL has embarked on an ambitious project to roll out a centralised datawarehousing system across its global...

Delivery firm DHL has embarked on an ambitious project to roll out a centralised datawarehousing system across its global operation. It will replace more than 50 disparate databases.

The company, which delivers three million packages a day, is implementing a 20Tbyte datawarehouse from Teradata to increase internal efficiency and provide a platform for new services such as its real-time Track & Trace facility.

The Teradata system, which will run on NCR Unix servers, will also be used to help DHL integrate its IT systems following mergers with Danzas and Euro Express in Europe and Airbourne Express in the US.

Having a centralised system for storing and analysing data from all areas of the business will help iron out a number of inefficiencies, said Peter James, global programme manager at DHL.

"We have multiple datawarehouses, each of which has its own data sources, which leads to inconsistent reporting and totally inadequate quality control," he said. "With this, we will have one set of information based on global rules. It will also be based on a real-time continuous feed rather than the batch method we currently use."

James admitted that the investment in Teradata was "significant" but said it could be entirely justified by the replacement of redundant database systems, many of which are Oracle-based.

The single system, which will use Cognos and Ascential software for business intelligence, will also mean DHL will not have to spend "huge amounts" on business reports as it does now, James said.

"Business intelligence will no longer be about propeller-heads looking for trends but about real data," he said. "It will also ensure consistency across our regions as everyone is measured against the same set of key performance indicators."

The roll-out of such a large system will be technically challenging but DHL has put in a number of measures to ensure there are minimal problems, James said.

"We need a bullet-proof service, so we have got a project team of 30 made up of people from DHL, Teradata, Ascential and Cognos," he said. "We are also working closely with users to put together testing plans."

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