Levolor Streamlines its B2B Integration

Switching from hand coding to Talend Data Integration saves 25% in support time each year and increases IT efficiency.
Another major benefit is the additional support that Talend provides. We've been able to go to them with module ideas for co-development. It's hard to see how this could be accommodated - both in cost and time - with the traditional software model. Add to this the availability of the forum and ecosystem that leverages the open source offering of the software package and I believe you leverage a community when working on various projects. I think this is unique to Talend.
John Shafer, eBusiness Application Developer

Revolutionizing the industry

Levolor has set the standard in window fashions, design innovation, product quality, and customer satisfaction. The first to offer cordless custom blinds, as well as being the first to bring color to blinds, Levolor continues to pioneer window décor and remains the most recognized name in the industry. Products, including custom, stock and sizable blinds and shades, basic and decorative drapery hardware and custom drapery, offer consumers more options than ever to complete their windows.

Today the company is a division of Newell-Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer and commercial products and a powerful brand family including Sharpie™, Paper Mate™, Parker™, Waterman™, Rubbermaid™, Calphalon™, Graco™, Levolor ™, Kirsch™, BernzOmatic™, Vise-Grip™, IRWIN™ and Lenox™.

Levolor is headquartered in High Point, NC. Newell Rubbermaid is headquartered in Atlanta, GA and has more than 20,000 employees worldwide.

The challenge of hand-coded integration

Hand-coding data integration with a small team is demanding. Factor in a custom product with frequent maintenance and the project becomes even more difficult. Levolor offers its window furnishings through a variety of retail systems and programs for companies purchasing its products. The coding of these systems - particularly at the source level - can get very complicated. Levolor needed a tool that would make the entire process more friendly in terms of being able to step back and really look at what business issue was being solved, rather than dealing with low-level coding.

"Essentially all the ETL processes were homegrown,"€ says John Shafer, Levolor's eBusiness Application Developer. "€œThis type of coding is complicated, not only in terms of understanding business processes, but because it was developed using different methods and implementations. It's very hard to come in behind someone and understand why they did what they did."€

Real-time integration

Levolor does business-to-business data integration and needed to reliably process information from a variety of sources - for product orders from various reseller partners; for customers visiting the Web site; and for other retail systems. Inbound information flows run 24x7, while shipment information and status details are communicated in response. They also needed to integrate data for third-party reporting when, for example, Levolor compiles information from different sources about a product and the type of customers who purchased it.

The tool had to let them monitor the jobs, but also provide source control and the ability to deploy from a development environment to a production environment. "€œBecause of the complicated nature of the products,"€ says John Shafer, "€œthere are some routines we need to be able to code in. With some of the products we looked at, that was difficult."

Talend Data Integration allowed Levolor to move to a standard package to develop jobs that could be reused over time. "€œWhen you look at the code and the critical nature of the information you're moving,"€ said John Shafer, "you realize that you need a tool to be able to manage these jobs - to make sure that they operate daily, hourly, however frequently they need to - and to give the business the flexibility to adapt to new opportunities as they come along. It becomes obvious you need a tool that can handle a lot of these capabilities out of the box. With Talend, the components are in there and it's essentially a matter of putting things together. Code what you absolutely have to, but rely on the graphical nature of the product to be able to take care of a lot of things that are common from job to job."

A lesser consideration was cost. "€œOther packages we evaluated from traditional ETL suppliers were in the $230,000 range plus support costs. We were looking at the problem from a risk avoidance angle, rather than from a returnable investment standpoint but, even so, with Talend if we have any custom needs we can have the resources with very reasonable lead time and cost, and develop a custom component to perform tasks that we can leverage repeatedly. That's one of the big advantages of open source. Add in the ability to download and try Talend Open Studio for Data Integration before purchasing and Talend Data Integration became an obvious choice."

Cost and efficiency benefits

"Considering that we had a homegrown solution prior to implementing Talend, the cost-saving measure is going to equate to high-cost developer time, not necessarily cash spent,"€ says John Shafer. "€œThe next step for us - after all jobs are migrated to Talend and we have moved from a critical mode to day-to-day operation - is going to be to expand the dashboard and maintenance of jobs in Talend to entry-level IT analysts. This frees up costly development time for more important opportunities than general ETL maintenance tasks."

"Another major benefit is the additional support that Talend provides. We've been able to go to them with module ideas for co-development,"€ concludes John Shafer. "€œIt's hard to see how this could be accommodated - both in cost and time - with the traditional software model. Add to this the availability of the forum and ecosystem that leverages the open source offering of the software package and I believe you leverage a community when working on various projects. I think this is unique to Talend."