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SMIRF (Standard Management Reports for Finance) is a financial reporting system that consolidates financial records from several accounting sources to provide a single comprehensive view of Army non-appropriated activities. Army financial analysts use SMIRF’s intuitive data selection interface to obtain financial reports at any desired level of aggregation or detail.

Although SMIRF will run as a thin client over the web, the Army has elected to provide redundancy and boost the performance of SMIRF and other web-based applications through the use of high performance Citrix servers. This highly efficient deployment allows users to obtain even complex financial reports involving up to six years of financial results within seconds.

SMIRF Secrets Revealed

Many SMIRF users do not realize that although powerful Citrix servers are used to provide web access to the world wide Army financial analyst community, the real work of preparing SMIRF data for publication occurs on two ordinary low-cost desktop computers at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center (CFSC) Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

One of these desktops is powered by QNX a highly efficient real-time version of UNIX that has been optimized for micro computers. Unlike many popular PC operating systems that use much of the systems resources to merely run the operating system itself, QNX has an extremely small kernel that leaves virtually all of the computer's resources available for number crunching and other useful tasks. With this system, one CFSC staff member is able to consolidate a vast array of accounting data from disparate sources into a single comprehensive data base in a matter of minutes.

After the “heavy lifting” is done by the QNX desktop, the data is converted for use in Microsoft operating systems on a second ordinary desktop. This machine has installed upon it all the features and functions of the web-based version of SMIRF so that CFSC financial analysts can fully test the data before it is published on the web. Publishing the data involves simply copying the updated data to a location where it can be accessed by the web servers. This typically takes a few minutes.

All of the above is greatly facilitated by the use of Zim Entity-Relational data base technology. Zim is a product of Zim Technology International, based in Ottawa, Canada. Zim has been the database engine powering SMIRF since its initial development as “CFAS” (the CFSC Financial Analysis System) in 1987. Zim provides a 4GL query and database application development language that is much more intuitive than standard SQL and runs on many operating sysems including all Microsoft products and many flavors of UNIX including linux and QNX.

Some of the technologies and techniques we used to achieve incredible cost effectiveness of IT operations at CFSC could easily be applied in your organization. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

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