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The Solution Experts

Founded in 1981, This company is the leading manufacturer and distributor of dental product technology. The company is a trusted name and is the global leader in aesthetic dentistry.

Client Industry

Dental Products Manufacturer.

The Challenge

Online Store Presence for Business-To-Business (primary) and Business-To-Consumer (secondary) Markets.

Integrate existing Enterprise System withan eCommerce website.

The Solution

We at Plego are proud to be a part of an unprecedented technological innovation. For the first time in MIS history, Plego innovators have successfully integrated a front-end Web application with the UNIX-based (HP9000) Business Planner and Control Software (BPCS) Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP).

Bisco is the most trusted name in the manufacturing and distribution of dental products. With a trusted “brick and mortar” foundation, moving one’s ordering process online can be a daunting and often an apprehensive process. Plego assured Bisco that an online ordering option would not only generate additional revenue for the company but would also create a channel of communication between Bisco’s existing Web presence and Enterprise Resource Planning Software.

The goal was to alleviate costs involved with the redevelopment of this company’s existing Web presence and investment in the company mainframe. Our work was cut out for us: first, to create an eCommerce presence for this company using their previous Web presence and secondly, to provide a channel of communication between Bisco’s Web presence and its mainframe.

Previously, Bisco had been using BPCS to operate their mainframe, a leading ERP Software System. SSA, developers of BPCS, market the product as an automated production and distribution system with client server applications. Business Planning and Control Software is an ERP package used by millions worldwide. Because the BPCS ERP was created in the early 80?s, it had no Web-based application. Plego created a multi-tier Web-based application that enables B2B and B2C integration of BPCS.

In addition to developing the appropriate technology for Enterprise Web Systems Integration, Plego felt that usability and customer relationship management applications were paramount to incorporate the Web presence. We developed the Web presence as an in-depth online information resource, customized with contact, quote and login forms. Plego maximized the application’s usability with a user-friendly interface that remained consistent with the brand name. The result was an advanced, yet easily navigable Web application that allows customers to find detailed product information, order and retrieve inventory information online, research the latest trends in dentistry and interact with the company’s sales force more efficiently.

With the solution, Plego created a technologically advanced Web application and maintained the integrity of Bisco’s mission to provide excellent customer service. Not only has Plego protected Bisco’s time and investment in their existing resources, but we are also pioneers in Web technology.

Technical Architecture

The technology utilized in this solution is consistent with the industry’s highest quality standards, such as Microsoft’s Servers and Application Development products, as well as our Three-Tier Architecture (server-side, middleware, and interface).

The proposed solution was implemented with Microsoft Windows 2003 Server and IIS to host the Web site. To provide site functionality, we implemented a three-tier solution comprised of ASP powered User Interfaces, a Business Logic Component layer, and a Database/Server layer. These tiers were designed for development in Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft SQL Server, Active Server Pages, which allowed the execution of server side scripts and object implementation, Server Side Includes (SSI), HTML, DHTML, JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets, and VBScript.

To preserve the client’s data integrity Plego constructed a data warehousing solution in a distributed environment with upgraded EPCS (primarily BPCS), Informix 9.0 and Microsoft SQL Server. Plego, with partners SSA, determined the handshaking necessary between interfaces and server-side applications during the project design phase. Middleware databases allowed us to build an additional layer of customer and product data on top of current Informix-based data, without disrupting the current network architecture balance and security, yet still keeping data up-to-date in a real-time environment.

Data security and integrity were maintained by a custom designed authentication component that incorporates Windows and ASP based security as necessary. We also implemented additional levels of security that were customized for sensitive data areas such as Secured Sockets Layers (SSL), an industry standard encryption protocol. This SSL encryption was used to “tunnel” ODBC connections between the network and the Web server. Cisco PIX technology was also used to control data access.

This solution seamlessly integrated with the network. We developed a robust Web presence that operated outside of the client’s existing network and communicated in real-time with their accounting, inventory and customer data.

Primarily, we used this solution for three reasons:

1. This distributed network architecture allowed us to build a robust eCommerce application that was independent of the client’s network with the exception of their enterprise data warehousing systems. This solution minimized the need for in-house staffing and server side management, but still gives them control of the site and its content.

2. The second tier of database objects allowed us to use their current enterprise data systems, thus providing online users with unlimited product and customer information (e.g., product descriptions, white papers, data analysis, MSDS sheets, images and pictures, etc.) without manipulating their current data structures. When users navigate the site, they see data from two databases, tied in together through an OLE DB source. Microsoft SQL Server is tied to Informix using COM objects and APIs. A secured tunnel configured between Microsoft SQL Server and BPCS/Informix 9.0, the data is kept private. In the end, the client was able to meet their goal of getting information to users easily and cost effectively.

3. The solution was more company friendly, user-friendly and cost effective. Paramount to any eCommerce application is the ability to purchase or navigate at anytime, from any computer, from any location. The primary rationale behind this recommendation was to keep the client-side Web architecture simple and elegant. From the client’s perspective, Active Server Pages were more scalable and provided for unfettered and easy maintenance by their staff.

This company was equally impressed with our ability to protect their previously invested time and expenditure, while simultaneously creating new avenues for them to remain competitive in the world of Internet technology.

Services Provided

eCommerce integration, Lotus Notes Integration, Equifax integration, R&D Notebook archiving application

Technologies Used

ASP, SQL Server, Lotus Notes

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