Streamlining Data Extraction

Most of the crucial business data is stored in unstructured formats, while machines require structured data for processing. Businesses need data extraction tools to bridge this gap.

Unstructured Data | Data Extraction

Data extraction has evolved with technology, from manual extraction to complete automation. Constant innovation and developments in this field are making data extraction easier, flexible, and scalable for users.

Automation of Data Extraction

Previously, organizations were heavily dependent on manual extraction of data. In some cases, the IT department was responsible for writing custom scripts to extract data points, and in other, employees manually read through every document to extract data. In both cases, the data required further massaging based on the needs of end users, delaying business decisions.

Today, the key goal of a data extraction tool is to automate the entire process for its users. Template-based data extraction is a popular route to automation, giving greater control to users. It involves converting incoming documents using extraction templates which can be re-used for documents with similar layouts. Moreover, modern tools provide a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the creation of these extraction templates, enabling business users to extract documents on their own, without the need to script or code.

Other than this, technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) enable computers to understand free-form text and make it analyzable through speech tagging, deep learning, text analytics, and other methods. Tools that leverage Machine Learning (ML) use algorithms to understand text structures and word morphology.

Automating data extraction process accompanies several benefits for businesses. Some of them are listed below:

  • Saves Time and Effort

Reusability of extraction templates for similar documents saves time and effort.

  • Faster Decision Making

Data can be processed in real time. This makes meaningful data readily available for business analysis, ensuring faster decision-making.

  • Streamlined Document Processing

Data patterns are used for recognizing documents and can allow for automatic classification of documents.


Automation has reshaped the business landscape. In today’s dynamic environment, it is important for businesses to focus on the quality and accessibility of data to stay ahead of their competitors. Accurate data can be made available in real-time through the automation of data extraction process.

For more information about how the concept of data extraction has evolved to meet modern business needs download the whitepaper ‘State of the Art of Data Extraction’.

Mainframe Modernization

Common Challenges of COBOL Data Extraction and How Centerprise Addresses Them

Although technologies like Ruby, Hadoop, and Cloud Computing continue to dominate headlines, there are still a large number of businesses that rely on legacy technologies. Many businesses, particularly those operating in the banking and insurance sector, use solutions that are COBOL-based.

According to Reuters, over 220 billion lines of COBOL code are in use today. As a result, a tremendous amount of data remains tied up in legacy systems. For any legacy modernization and BI initiative to be successful, it is important that this data must be integrated, transformed, and offloaded onto an analytics platform.

While extracting data from COBOL-based legacy applications is essential for improved decision-making, it remains a challenge for most businesses due to two primary reasons:

  • Shortage of COBOL Skills

There is a growing gap between the number of skilled COBOL programmers and organizations relying on the programming language. The average age of COBOL programmers is 55 years, and 70 percent of universities are favoring fancy languages like Java, C++, Linux, and UNIX over COBOL.

  • Need for Custom Programming

Analyzing data by directly querying the mainframe is a complex process. It requires custom development and therefore can be time-consuming and costly, with billing based on MIPS.

To addresses these two challenges, businesses need a solution that can fuel their data integration efforts, while ensuring data quality and reducing the need for hand-coding the processes.

How Centerprise Facilitates COBOL Data Extraction

Centerprise is a complete data integration solution that allows users to import data from a variety of sources, including legacy systems, transform it and write it to a destination of their choice. With its user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface and unparalleled data mapping capabilities, Centerprise makes the process of extracting data from COBOL-based systems simple, quick, and cost-effective.

cobol data extraction, legacy modernization

Centerprise offers complete support for COBOL data extraction with the functionality to:

  • Read a COBOL File — Centerprise features a high-speed COBOL file reader that can efficiently process large COBOL files.
  • Parse a Copybook — The built-in copybook parser reads a COBOL copybook and automatically builds the layout. When a copybook is not available, users can import a COBOL data file as a fixed length file and manually define field markers, data types, and numeric formats.
  • Identify USAGE, REDEFINES, and OCCURS — Centerprise offers support for different clauses used in a COBOL data file, including REDEFINES, OCCURS, and USAGE, such as COMP, COMP-3, COMP-5.

Once a COBOL data file has been imported, users can leverage the code-free, drag-and-drop environment of Centerprise to transform and write data to a destination of their choice.

Download our whitepaper to learn how Centerprise can help you combine legacy COBOL data with modern data streams and get a unified view of your information assets.

Automate Partner Data Exchange and Integration through Astera’s Customer Portal

Effective business intelligence demands proper data collection and integration processes. Modern businesses receive data in different formats from a variety of communication protocols, when efficient collaboration and tracking of data exchanges are more important than ever before.

Partner Data Exchange and Integration Automation

Partner Data Exchange – Centerprise Data Integration Software

As data increases, the maintenance and management of multiple files from disparate sources takes its toll on IT teams. File based partner data exchanges need to be fast, reliable, and secure for transfers, especially on large-scale operations. Manual data entry and file exchange over channels like email aren’t sufficient anymore. Businesses need a centralized platform where customers, partners, suppliers, and employees can upload data files, ensure compliance, and track file status.

Enter the new Astera Cloud Customer Portal.

Key features include:

Centralized Uploading

Partners upload data files directly on the portal URL using their unique login credentials. Validation and cleansing take place automatically on the backend Centerprise server using custom integration flows. A response file is generated at the end for both the admin and users.

File Tracking

The Customer Portal comes with inherent file tracking: all involved remain up-to-date on file statuses in real-time via the Dashboard. For unsuccessful uploads, the response file contains error codes and explanations. Status emails can also be configured for all types of accounts. This ensures all necessary files are uploaded correctly after data validation, allowing the final workflow to run as scheduled.


Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and file encryption are supported on the Customer Portal. Uploaded encrypted files are automatically decrypted, processed, and then re-encrypted by Centerprise to be sent back.


The Customer Portal is built to handle unlimited data volume and borrows on Centerprise’s powerful scalability. Cloud servers can also be added for reliable load balancing.

White Label Capability

Astera Cloud’s Customer Portal is customizable, with the ability to use your company logo and domain name. Get all the functionality of Centerprise while maintaining brand cohesion.

For a live demo and information on pricing for our partner data exchange and integration solution, call us at +1 888-772-7837 or email us at

Business Intelligence Tools and Centerprise

Astera Software’s Centerprise Data Integrator is an easy-to-use and robust data integration tool which can be used for ETL tasks, data quality and profiling. Centerprise seamlessly integrates with various data visualization and reporting tools to create a full-stack Business Intelligence process.


What is BI Software?

BI software is typically designed to analyze, transform and prepare data for reporting. BI tools use data which has been previously stored and which may or may not be stored in a data warehouse/data mart. BI tools enable users to transform raw data into legible information that enables businesses to make better decisions, which in turn allows for growth and increased revenue.

Centerprise is a complete data integration solution which can be used as a standalone product or can be integrated with other BI tools such as prediction analysis and data visualization tools to achieve a complete data mining and analytics process.

Centerprise provides a scalable, powerful, robust platform which helps in many processes, including: data extraction, data scrubbing, data warehousing, and data migration.

Some of the benefits of Centerprise include:

  • Support for complex hierarchical data
  • Easy to use graphical interface
  • Well-suited for business as well as technical users
  • High-performance and scalable
  • Built-in extensive set of data transformation features
  • Data profiling

    If you’re interested in seeing Astera Software products in action, check out our monthly webinar series! You can find out more on the Astera Software Events page.

Build vs. Buy: How it applies to Enterprise Software

Nowadays, enterprise software is used almost everywhere and at different levels within organizations. It is the lifeblood of most IT departments. One dilemma that tech company leaders face is whether to build a business solution (i.e. custom software) from scratch or to buy commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) products and mold them according to business requirements.

Some key points when deciding whether to buy or build software are:

  1. The core business requirements, the scope of the problem in question, and the how complex the solution should be in order to fit the business needs and size
  2. Available resources and skills in terms of people, software, hardware, tools, etc. capable of building, maintaining, and supporting the business solution
  3. The amount of time required to develop the solution in-house

Companies that decide to build their own solution tend to overlook issues and expenses, such as:

  1. Replacing existing technology, adding features and functionality to a legacy system is extremely tough and a complete reengineering and rebuilding of business solutions may be needed
  2. A learning curve always comes with building a new software or recruiting additional people with specific skills to build in-house solutions
  3. Higher costs and potentially longer implementation compared to integrating COTS products

One of the biggest software building failure stories is the Bank of America’s MasterNet case study. According to “The Incremental Commitment Spiral Model: Principles and Practices for Successful Systems and Software” by Barry Boehm, Jo Ann Lane, Supannika Koolmanojwong, and Richard Turner:

“In the 1950s and 1960s, Bank of America (BofA) was the leading pioneer in banking automation with its electronic check processing capability. Subsequent BofA leaders had other interests, allowing BofA’s banking automation capabilities to degrade over time. In 1981, BofA’s new president, Sam Armacost, had an agenda to regain its automation leadership by “leapfrogging into the 1990s.” After an in-house effort that spent $6 million and failed to develop a workable trust management system, Armacost appointed a new executive vice president of the trust management department, Clyde Claus, with the charge of either modernizing the department or discontinuing it.

“…[However,] system problems continued…[and] clients began dropping off, with BofA’s base dwindling from 800 to 700 accounts and from $38 billion to $34 billion in institutional assets.… Eventually, in May 1988, BofA transferred its whole trust business to other banks, after an overall expenditure of $80 million and more than four years of project effort. The previous president, Tom Clausen, replaced Armacost in late 1986, and Claus resigned in October 1987.”

Advantages abound in buying COTS products and then customizing them. Some of the pros of buying software are:

  • Lower up-front costs
  • Clear and definite processes available for customization
  • Ready-made solutions available immediately
  • Less time has to be spent on customization and getting a product into the market
  • Readily available customer support

Although buying software may cost more than building a solution at the outset, it does provide better ROI over the long term.

Astera Software provides powerful, commercial, off-the shelf data extraction, integration and processing software including ETL tools which can be easily integrated and adapted by enterprises and companies to reduce time and effort required to perform data extracting and processing tasks and in turn improve revenue.

Some of Astera’s available software include:


  • Centerprise Data Integrator delivers a powerful, scalable, high-performance, and affordable integration platform that is easy to use and cost friendly. It is robust enough to overcome even the biggest and most complex data integration challenges. A complete data integration solution, Centerprise includes data integration, data transformation, data quality, and data profiling in a flexible environment that enables users to choose from multiple integration scenarios. It comes with job scheduling and orchestration for automatic scheduling, file drop events, and API calls.


  • ReportMiner enables you to extract business data from PDF, TXT, XLXS, XLS, etc. formats. Data can be integrated into the main database system and used in electronic applications for business operations and business intelligence. ReportMiner provides an easy to use interface and helps the user to identify desired data, build the data extraction logic, and save the extracted data in a number of destinations. The best part about this product is that it can be used efficiently by business users with no technical background, but is robust enough for IT professionals.


  • EDIConnect is a complete solution for handing EDI documents such as EDI 834 and 837. EDIConnect offers a user friendly and intuitive user interface to accurately and efficiently handle bi-directional EDI data integration. It is scalable and powerful enough to fulfill entire EDI transaction processes.

Astera Software also provides training and support. Customers can learn more about the products, view the demo, and reduce the learning curve. In conclusion, Astera Software provides easy to use, robust and manageable off-the shelf products to support companies and provide them with powerful data mapping, transformation and processing tools that are not only budget-friendly but also have a sizable advantage over building in-house business solutions.

EMR and HL7 within EDIConnect

In October, we went over two healthcare EDI transactions: EDI 834 and 837. This week, we’ll take a look at two more healthcare facets of EDIConnect: the ability to handle EMRs and compliance with HL7.

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are electronic records generated and maintained by hospitals and healthcare organizations. They are a vast improvement over paper records. They allow more than one person to use a patient’s chart, are better organized, eliminate illegible handwriting, and allow storage of more information.

The demand for healthcare systems with Electronic Medical Records (EMR) interfaces is rising. This increase is due to many factors, including the growing adoption of EMR systems and emerging clinical healthcare data standards such as HL7.


Health Level-7

Health Level-7(HL7) refers to a set of international standards for software applications used by healthcare providers for clinical and administrative transaction data. The HL7 standards are produced by the Health Level Seven International, an international standards organization, and are adopted by other standards issuing bodies such as American National Standards Institute and International Organization for Standardization.

HL7 International specifies a number of flexible standards, rules, and procedures for healthcare systems used by hospitals and other healthcare provider organizations to communicate with each other.  This helps information to be shared and processed in a uniform and consistent manner and allow hospitals and healthcare organizations to easily share clinical information.

Electronic data interchange (EDI) format also plays a very important role with EMR files and records. It helps to share clinical and other administrative data and medical records across different healthcare systems as well as individuals. Patients can also access their medical records through internet, allowing them to stay well-informed about their health status and ongoing medical treatments.



Astera Software provides a complete solution for handing documents such as EMR and many others such EDI documents. EDIConnect offers a user friendly and intuitive user interface to accurately and efficiently handle bi-directional EDI data integration. It is scalable and powerful enough to fulfill entire EDI transaction processes.


EDIConnect Benefits:

  • Handles electronic medical records and HL7 documents.
  • Powerful and scalable
  • Fast, comprehensive and accurate data exchange
  • Easy to use graphical interface for both technical and business users.

Review our Products, Get a Gift!


It’s the holiday season, and we’re giving our wonderful customers the chance to win something spectacular! We’ll give you a hint as to what it is: it’s new and shiny and rhymes with, “Snapple Swatch.”

If you use ReportMiner or Centerprise and give us a verified review on G2Crowd, we’ll give you a present back: a $25 Amazon gift card! In addition, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win an Apple Watch Series 2.

The links to review are down below:



We look forward to hearing from you – remember to get your gift card, and post your review by December 22nd to have your shot at a new Apple Watch. Happy Holidays!

Multi-Column Support

Many documents have newspaper-style formatting, which contains more than one column with a repeating pattern of records. As a result, the layout is more complex than a single-column document, and extracting useful information can pose a challenge.

ReportMiner 7 now provides a Multi-Column layout option to handle documents with multiple columns.  In the past, if documents had more than one column with a repeating pattern, it would be very difficult to extract information from all the columns in a clean and efficient manner.  This was due to the way in which the software looks for information: it scans the data in horizontal sweeps. With the latest version of ReportMiner, you can now process your multi-column documents within minutes for perfectly editable and searchable data.

Here’s how to use ReportMiner 7’s Multi-Column feature: 

First, load your multi-column document in ReportMiner.

Add a Data Region to create matching patterns.

In this case, we’ll create a matching pattern for Names and Phone Numbers in the document.

Next, add Data Fields for Names and Phone Numbers in the document.

When previewed, the data is displayed accurately in a list format.

As seen in the screenshot below, a blank bar appears as soon as you check off the Multi-Column option in the Data Region. Click on the bar and a black dotted vertical line will appear indicating a column boundary. If a line is placed incorrectly, click on it within the bar to remove it and try again. Make sure that the line is flush with the left side of the first column of characters in your document.

Since there are three columns in the sample document, another column boundary is added just before the start of the second column. All records in both columns have now been successfully identified.

Preview your data and export it to a destination file type of your choice with easy access to the extracted information.

From one column to multiple columns, Astera can extract information with ease. Thanks to ReportMiner7, your data is more accessible than ever before.