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CASE STUDY - Israel Defense Forces: Robust Functionality Delivers Significant Benefits

Commentary by Israel Defense Forces

The history of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is marked by milestones recognizable to even casual observers of the Middle East: The Six-Day War of 1967… the Raid on Entebbe in 1976… the 1981 air strike that crippled an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

In 2004, the Israeli military achieved another milestone by improving the IDF’s ability to mobilize forces and material with greater speed, precision, and efficiency.

This time, the theater was the data management environment of the IDF Technology and Logistics Directorate—a sprawl of incompatible applications that frustrated the Army’s efforts to manage its equipment and resources.

“We had a forest of systems throughout Logistics,” said Lt. Col. Yossi, the Technology and Logistics Directorate head of Enterprise Resource Planning Project Administration, based in Tel Aviv. “Each was a separate system that would speak its own language. We could do the job, but not in a fluent way.”

The IDF Technology and Logistics Directorate embarked on an ambitious initiative that would migrate Army data from mainframe and legacy applications to a set of SAP R/3, selecting Informatica PowerCenter as the data integration system.

A first phase of the initiative aimed to migrate data from five key areas—spare parts, medical supplies, gas and oil, construction materials, and office materials—to SAP R/3 4.7, which was running under Linux on an IBM zSeries 990 with a DB2 database.

With PowerCenter, conversion was faster, data movement was faster, and because of the way Informatica uses mappings, we were able toidentify data errors at the source level.
—Lt. Col. Yossi, IDF Technology and Logistics Directorate

In production since April 2004, accessed by many users, the integrated SAP logistics environment is helping the Army improve supply chain efficiency, reduce costs, and fine-tune operations based on a single, consolidated view of its data.

Since discovering the capabilities of PowerCenter, the IDF has broadened the scope of their integration initiative, and are now integrating data from all service branches (Army, Navy, and Air Force) using Informatica.

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

According to Lt. Col. Yossi, PowerCenter’s ease of use and robust functionality delivered benefits far beyond the expectations of the IDF, including:

  • Reduced the number of man-years by a factor of five to six. The project was completed with 10 man-years of labor versus an estimated 60.
  • Decreased the project duration from three years to one.
  • Enabled completion of the significantly expanded project scope (all service data versus Army data only) within their new one-year timeline and 25 percent below budget.
  • Supplied data quality validation that cleansed/standardized more than 100 million records.
  • Was readily learned and adopted by 20 programmers.

“Originally, we thought we would have to expend 60 years of human work to perform the conversion,” said Lt. Col. Yossi. “In reality, it only took 10 man-years. With PowerCenter, conversion was faster, data movement was faster, and because of the way Informatica uses mappings, we were able to identify data errors at the source level.”

Among the first objectives was to examine the mainframe and legacy information for data quality—redundancy, inconsistent definitions, and differing codes for the same materials across disparate systems.

“We were about to install a new system, and didn’t want the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ problem,” Lt. Col. Yossi said. “We wanted to do everything we could to ensure the new system would be as clean as possible.”

The IDF team had created a custom application to perform data cleansing. PowerCenter provides the capability to seamlessly integrate such external applications as custom transformations. The highly visual Informatica PowerCenter development GUI provided a foundation for programmers to customize 24 mappings, allowing them to use their external program as another transformation. PowerCenter moved data from source-to-target and cleansed data in one operation. This exposed an alarming quantity of issues with source-level quality that would otherwise have gone undetected, Lt. Col. Yossi said. In some cases, the IDF used PowerCenter’s Advanced External Procedures feature to streamline the most complex mappings.

“The results were amazing, “ Lt. Col. Yossi said. Moreover, cleansing and de-duplication reduced data volumes by roughly 20 percent, saving on storage requirements.

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