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VINSolutions/AutoTrader.com

 

VinSolutions/AutoTrader.com Keeps Track of Over a Million Cars With Centerprise Automated ETL

 

New Dealer Onboarding Time is Cut From Two Months to One Hour

 

"Every time we brought in a new dealer, there was a lot of development effort that had to be taken into account, whereas with Astera, it's a lot faster process, and it doesn't require a developer to be involved every step of the way."
Mike Ethetton, Senior Programmer

 

Overview

Founded in 1996, AutoTrader.com is one of the most popular sources for market data on new and used automobiles for sale. Not just a single website, the AutoTrader Group of companies is a $1-billion operation that includes AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book, and automotive data management subsidiary VinSolutions, among others.

 

Challenges

VinSolutions bears the brunt of the data integration challenges for AutoTrader and other websites that dealers use to advertise their vehicles. For each car, there may be more than 100 individual pieces of data that need to be updated on a daily basis. This includes critical data such as the list price, along with various other pieces of metadata that determine how the vehicle should be listed. With listings on more than a million cars requiring updates every day, plus other value-added solutions for marketing, finance, search optimization, mobile, and social media, the scale of the challenge for VinSolutions approaches big-data territory.

 

Business Needs

VinSolutions is the data service middleman between car dealerships and Internet car marketing companies like AutoTrader.com and Cars.com. The company not only manages the data integration, it is also responsible for integrating its software the into the dealership management system (DMS), the core software applications that automate car dealerships.

This is where the difficulties started for VinSolutions. Many of the biggest dealers in the country have standardized on a handful of DMS applications, such as those from ADP, DealerTrack, and Reynolds. Unfortunately, just about every ADP, DealerTrack, and Reynolds customer uses their DMS in different ways. In addition, VinSolutions works with another 60 to 80 smaller DMSs as well as custom-built DMSs.

 

Astera Solution and Results

About two years ago, VinSolutions decided to automate its homegrown ETL process and get out of the custom development business. After evaluating several data integration software solutions, the company chose Centerprise Data Integrator because it provided all the functionality needed, including automated ETL, and the easy-to-use interface enables business users in the implementation department to work with the software.

According to VinSolution’s director of integration Doug Maskill, the software has dramatically reduced the need to custom code the integration into each dealer’s DMS.

“One of the big advantages in using Astera is it allowed us in development to build the core data flows, which then allows non-developers in our implementation department to use Astera to build sub-flows to connect into those core data flows,” Maskill said. “That enabled us to create an environment where we don’t have developers doing the actual configuration for every single independent dealer. It allows the variances from dealer to dealer to be configured in Astera by our implementation team building data sub-flows. Trying to write code to do all that–that’s a lot of heavy lifting.”

 

Why Astera

According to VinSolutions senior programmer Mike Ethetton, it could take up to two months for a developer to do the custom-coding to ensure the accurate capture of data from a new client’s DMS into the VinSolutions network. With Astera, that has been cut to about an hour’s worth of work. With 70 to 100 car dealers going online with VinSolutions every month, the company has eliminated a lot of custom data mapping work on the part of its development team.

“Every time we brought in a new dealer, there was a lot of development effort that had to be taken into account, whereas with Astera, it’s a lot faster process, and it doesn’t require a developer to be involved every step of the way.”

The company is currently looking to take its ETL process to the next level with real-time data integration via REST Web services. This form of integration is highly dependent on whether a given DMS supports the specific APIs.

The hope is that, eventually, any change made to car data at the DMS level will automatically trigger an update into the VinSolutions systems. The company is starting to roll it out with the dealerships that support them, such as the corporate websites for Nissan, Kia, Toyota, and Lexus.

   

Astera brings powerful data management and application integration solutions within reach of any organization. Astera's open source solutions for developing and deploying data management services like ETL, data profiling, data governance, and MDM are affordable, easy to use, and proven in demanding production environments around the world. For organizations looking to jump-start a big data initiative, Astera provides applications that accelerate data loading and other aspects of Hadoop setup by enabling developers and analysts to leverage powerful Hadoop technologies like Hadoop Hive, Pig, and Sqoop without having to write Hadoop code. Astera's ESB and data services infrastructure solutions extend proven Microsoft technologies like WCF and MSMQ to deliver affordable, flexible service enablement of distributed applications. To help enterprises improve operational performance, Astera also offers packaged solutions that support business process modeling and simulation as well as rapid development, testing, and deployment of process-oriented applications..NET, SQL Server and all Microsoft-related trademarks are the property of the Microsoft, and are used with permission.