In December I had written a little piece regarding Todd Lamothe, the system administrator for the County of Lennox and Addington, and his deployment of Windows 2008. Well, he’s been driving hard to bring more value and order in his environment.
His latest project involves the migration of a lot of statistical information from a manual Excel based process to a SQL 2008 system that will allow him to save time and money all the while providing a lot more value than the system he is using now.
All libraries in the County of Lennox and Addington provide their stats to the Information Services office in the form of a text file that is dumped from their terminals. Let me tell you that from what I understand from Todd, that’s not a fun process. He takes the info and re-enters it in an Excel spreadsheet for each library and links it to a “roll-up” master spreadsheet that get distributed to management.
The goals of this project were to:
- Create a single database server that will be used for collecting all statistics and eventually to provide BI tools and analysis.
- Simplify the reporting and allow for easier queries
- Eliminate the manual Data entry
- Enable historical analysis
- Provide a dashboard environment for management.
His current environment does not allow for historical data past 18 months, which becomes an issue when trying to establish trends year over year.
When I asked him what were are the challenges faced by Todd? He replied that the stats are in is responsibility because of the “data entry” function and that the manual process did not leave him much time to address other issues. Also, the current system was not granular enough to provide detailed analysis. Furthermore, the old system did not produce the historical data he needs for his planning exercise.
To remedy that situation he rolled out SQL 2008 with the following technologies:
- Data transformation services, In order to convert and import the data from the text file generated by the library systems
- Dashboard & Reporting services, for management and real time stats
On top of the benefits he will gain by eliminating the manual processes he will also use the SQL server to host a Microsoft Deployment Toolkit database that will give him the options of automating the deployment of customized workstations throughout the environment based on roles and location. Talk about flexibility….
Here are some details of his implementation.
- SQL is running in a Hyper-V environment.
- The SQL Server installation was very straight forward since he had nothing to start with.
- 3 things (.Net Framework, XML, Management tools) did not install properly the first times, but were easily fixed by re-installing those parts (unknown if this was an interface problem between the chair and the keyboard)
Now that the server is up, the DTS process is being tweaked, and he expect the whole solution to be running very soon.
WOW! How about that? This is a prime example of the business needs dictating the IT innovations.
If you have stories like this one, feel free to contact me and we can tell others, and hopefully, we can inspire other to do the things that brings them value and success.