InterSystems object database Caché has made the all-in agribusiness solution by Swiss CBTSoftware AG viable for the future. At the same time, the company has created a platform for thefruit and vegetable trade that also works with InterSystems Ensemble, a powerful businessintegration platform.
When August Wick, owner and CEO of CBT SoftwareAG, made his start in the software business in themid-1980s, he was responding to an acute need.Trained in agriculture as well as business, and thehead of an agricultural accounting and tax firm,he recognized that there was no comprehensivesoftware solution for the specific needs of agribusinessavailable on the market. In order tofill this gap, Wick hired a team of committed ITspecialists and began to develop an industry specific solution.
- Comprehensivesoftware solution
- Solid architecture
- Speedy implementation
- High performanceand scalability
CBT Software has grown to a full-service IT serviceprovider with a staff of 14. The company’s businessapplications have long become the de facto industrystandard. CBT Software’s flagship applicationsare agris® quattro and artos® quattro: comprehensiveand fully integrated solutions for the entireagricultural industry, including farms, industry,administration, as well as accounting and tax firms.Featuring a modular structure, the applicationscover all the operational procedures efficiently andreliably, from address management, service performancetracking, and order processing, to bookkeepingas well as VAT and payroll accounting. Mostof the modules can be used individually as well.
The challenge of a database changeover
After CBT Software had systematically developedits industry solutions for almost a quarter of acentury, they were slowly but surely reaching theirperformance limits. The reason was that the 4-GLdatabase solution was no longer up to date andwas no longer capable of fully satisfying userrequirements. “Small businesses still make up themajority of our customers. Up until a few yearsago, they used just one or two computers each, butnow, some use several dozen,” August Wickexplains. Over the longterm, the legacy databasesystem was unable tohandle the increasingmounts of data resultingfrom the larger groupof workstations. Wicklooked for a suitablealternative. The mostimportant requirements were high performanceand scalability. In addition, the solution wasexpected to work in very small businesses as wellas in larger industrial companies.
Putting business software into overdrive
An initial rough-cut evaluation was less thanpromising. Wick says, “Most of the databaseproducts we examined were too cumbersome,and considering the small size of our customers,they were much too expensive as well.” Wick ranacross the InterSystems object database Cachémore or less by chance and was convinced it wassuitable right away. “It very quickly became clearthat Caché can handle large amounts of complexinformation much better than relational databasesthanks to its object technology and the efficientmultidimensional data engine.” Wick was alsoimpressed by the flexibility of the InterSystemsdatabase: “Because Caché generally allowssoftware developers to select any developmenttools, programming languages, and data accessmodels, applications can be created rapidly andexpeditiously.” Another reason for Wick to decideon Caché was the supplier’s extensive experience:“InterSystems has had Caché on the market for morethan 15 years. That is why we could be sure thatCaché has a solid and widely tested architecture. Wealso liked InterSystems’ transparent and customer focusedbusiness policy.”
Faster and more powerful thanks to Caché
Following an extensive testing phase, Wick decidedto implement Caché for his entire range of products.In the meantime, most of the business software’smore than 15 modules have been ported to theInterSystems database. “Because Caché featuresextraordinarily high throughput rates, our industrysolutions have become many times faster andmore powerful,” says Wick, adding, “thanks to thedatabase’s high degree of scalability, there are nolonger any limitations regarding data volume orthe number of users and no loss in performancewhatsoever.” Another plus, particularly for thesmaller businesses using CBT software, is that as arule Caché-based applications require less expensivehardware than ones created with traditionalrelational databases. In addition, thanks to Cache’snumerous reliability features such as shadowingand clustering, CBT software can guaranteeinterruption-free operation of business-criticalapplications as well as maximum data security.In summary, August Wick says, “our softwaresolutions are poised for the future because of Caché.”
Caché is the core element of industry solutions
It very quickly became clear that Caché can handle large amounts of complex information much better than relational databases thanks to its object technology and the efficient multidimensional data engine.
August Wick, Owner and CEO
Today, Caché is not only a core element in theindustry solutions agris® quattro und artos®quattro, but is also used in other projects. Forexample, CBT Software developed a web-basedprocurement and dispatch platform for the fruitand vegetable trade. The client was Allianz OstGemse AG, a group of vegetable producerssupplying Coop, the second-largest retailer inSwitzerland. The application was developed usingEnsemble, the powerful InterSystems businessintegration platform.
New platform optimizes the entiresupply chain
Fourteen producers are connected directly andadditional suppliers indirectly to Allianz OstGemse AG’s web platform, covering all processesalong the supply chain. For example, producerscan enter the goods they can supply into the systemon a daily basis. The system in turn picks up Coop’sorders and distributes them to the individualproducers within a few seconds according to apredefined allocation formula. Then the systemoptimizes distribution and transport. As soon asAllianz Ost Gemse’s dispatcher has checked andapproved the orders, all the packing slips and labelsfor the pallets are created automatically and madeavailable to the producers via the Internet fordownload or printing. The DESADV (“despatchadvice message”) is sent to Coop, and all Coopdistribution centers receive fully automated e-mailswith the individual producers’ packing slips, theoverall packing slips, the container documents, anda list of differences between orders and deliveriesshould they occur. With just a few mouse clicks, thedispatcher can now see in a timely manner whateach individual producer offers, without having toassemble the data tediously. There is a paperlessbilling system both for Coop and the producers;communication with Coop is based on AS-2 andEDIFACT.
Efficient development thanks also to supportby InterSystems
CBT Software and Allianz Ost Gemse AG hadagreed on a tight schedule for developing thecomplex platform: less than seven months betweenawarding the contract and the system goinglive. Wick considers close cooperation withInterSystems animportant factor formeeting thiscompletion deadline.“We were able torely on the specialistsat InterSystemsproviding competentsupport and couldeven involve them in the project on site as needed.That allowed us to press ahead with developmentso efficiently.”
We were able to rely on thespecialists at InterSystemsproviding competent supportand could even involve them inthe project on site as needed.That allowed us to press aheadwith development so efficiently.
August Wick, Owner and CEO
The solution has been operating very successfullyfor two years and has delivered significantbenefits. The entire supply chain was optimized,as was coordination of the vegetable producers’cultivation and product range planning, and as aresult, the amount of vegetables on the marketthat were sourced from Switzerland was increasedsubstantially in relation to imported vegetables.Cost savings were achieved in terms of the platformas well as personnel, which is of key importancegiven the massive pressure on prices in thevegetable sector. Thanks to the system’s troublefreeand efficient operation, it was possible togain Allianz Mitte Gemse AG as a customer a yearago, and the solution’s processing/dispatchingfeatures were considerably expanded.
With agris® agrofresh, CBT Software AG is now in aposition to supply an end-to-end solution covering“from the field to the store.”