Published on 30-Dec-2011
"Our sophisticated back-office systems have enabled us to turn complexity into competitive advantage... The Netezza system will be a vital tool in accelerating future improvements, growth and profitability." - Paul Floyd, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Engineering and Operations, iBasis
Data Warehouse, Information Infrastructure
With call volumes and data analysis needs growing by 30 to 40 percent each year, iBasis’ infrastructure was straining under the pressure. Its three-and-a-half-year-old data warehouse, built on EMC, Oracle and Sun Microsystems technology, needed 18 to 24 hours to load and analyze data for critical reports on revenue, margins, network traffic and quality. By moving to the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, iBasis can now perform complex Call Detail Record (CDR) analyses on 150 million records in real time and analyses have been reduced from hours and days to seconds.
A scalable data warehouse platform that supports real-time, complex data loads and call detail record analysis
A purpose-built, high-performance data warehouse appliance that makes advanced analytics on very large data volumes simpler, faster and more accessible
Complex CDR analyses on 150M records in real timeAnalyses reduced from hours/days to seconds; Scalability to accommodate 30-40 percent annual call volume growth; Single source of information to meet enterprise-wide demands; Administrative savings - redeployment of two full-time employees
iBasis, a world-leading provider of international VoIP network services, uses IBM to run real-time, complex Call Detail Record (CDR) analyses on approximately 150 million transactions each day. Founded in 1996, iBasis (NASDAQ: IBAS) carries roughly 24 billion minutes of global voice-over-IP (VoIP) traffic through its network of 100-plus countries each year, making it one of the world’s largest carriers of international voice traffic and a leading provider of prepaid calling services. iBasis’ finance, billing, operations and sales departments rely heavily on the ability to make effective decisions based on the most current conditions and demands in the market.
The breaking point
“We had two problems,” explained Paul Floyd, senior vice president of Research and Development, Engineering and Operations at iBasis. “One was handling the scale of the data warehouse. The second was pushing data into that warehouse.”
With call volumes and data analysis needs growing by 30 to 40 percent each year, iBasis’ already taxed infrastructure was straining under the pressure. Its three-and-half-year-old data warehouse, built on EMC, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, consumed 18 to 24 hours to load and analyze the data needed to deliver enterprise-critical reports on revenue, margins, network traffic and quality. Too many aggregate tables and indexes were required to make the system perform adequately, and they had to be rebuilt after each load. As a result, queries ran very slowly and reports could only be delivered once per day. This eliminated the possibility for real-time analysis – a lethal problem in today’s data-intensive telecommunications environment.
iBasis’ existing environment was becoming increasingly difficult to manage and performance suffered when the company tried running complex business intelligence (BI) reports on the same platform as its day-to-day operations. The legacy Oracle environment could not accommodate the various needs of different organizational users. “We have several groups with very different needs,” explained Mark Saponar, iBasis’ vice president of Information Systems. “This includes external customers – telecommunications providers – that contract for the iBasis capabilities. Another is the market analysis group, and a third is the company’s sales group.”
Additionally, iBasis’ existing data mart could hold only one year of CDRs and three years’ worth of summarized data, compromising the company’s ability to do comprehensive trend analyses. Ultimately, the complexity, poor performance and data latency issues within iBasis’ legacy environment meant that managers throughout the enterprise were unable to make decisions based on the most accurate information on their business and the market. According to Saponar, “We’re now handling between 140 million and 150 million transactions per day, so our growth rate led our old technology to become slower and slower.”
An alternative approach: The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance
iBasis soon decided it needed a new solution to replace its entire data warehousing infrastructure. “The main reason for migration was we had a need for analyzing massive amounts of data. Every call generates five to six different transactions, which we’re analyzing in order to determine quality, margins and revenues,” stated Saponar.
The company began researching data warehouse appliances due to their reputation of delivering speed, simplicity and low cost in a single package. It decided to move forward with Netezza, the market pioneer and leader that was acquired by IBM in 2010, which claimed to deliver 10 to 100 times the performance of traditional systems at half the cost, by leveraging commodity components and the “secret sauce” of its architecture to integrate relational database, server and storage into a compact, power-efficient unit.
Those claims were validated when iBasis engaged in a proof of concept with the Netezza data warehouse appliance – all reports that took approximately two hours in legacy environments were executed within one minute on the Netezza appliance – 125 times faster.
The system’s advantage is in its patented streaming architecture: The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has placed processing power next to the data, so data analysis occurs at the source at streaming speeds, delivering an unprecedented boost in performance. This results in a lower total cost of ownership, and the entire system comes in a self-contained, single-vendor rack that integrates easily into existing BI environments.
Moving forward with Netezza
iBasis purchased a 9-TB Netezza data warehouse appliance for production along with another development system. The company decided to employ a third-party data integration tool for its extract, transform, load (ETL) solution, which is actually an “ELT” approach – meaning that data is extracted and loaded directly into the warehouse before performing any transformations to the data. This method is the perfect complement to the massively parallel architecture of the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, enabling orders of magnitude improvements in performance. “We are now pushing the transactions into the data warehouse in less than an hour,” Saponar said. “The benefits are really the combination of speed of transfer of the information as well as the very fast IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance for retrieval.”
iBasis’ data warehouse solution was deployed in just 12 weeks. Netezza integrated seamlessly with both the ETL and the existing SAP Business Objects BI platform. “Usually these types of projects are very painful, but in this case it was pretty straightforward,” commented Saponar. Keeping scalability in mind, iBasis was not concerned about the upgrade path with the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance. “We can upgrade to a 22-TB device within 24 hours, and it’s all done in parallel with current processes,” Saponar stated. iBasis pursued such an upgrade, purchasing a 50-TB IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, which moved quickly into production as planned.
The company has also realized significant benefits due to the reduced administration offered by the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance. Training on the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance was completed in a single day, and iBasis has been able to redeploy two full-time employees since bringing in IBM. Saponar continued, “Our data warehouse team consists of one to two employees that we need once every three months to do small changes for release verifications.”
Optimizing iBasis’ operational BI
Beyond the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance’s ability to provide a scalable, high-performance appliance at a low TCO that can easily be deployed and maintained, IBM has truly changed the way iBasis uses business intelligence. Floyd testified to the importance of these analytics stating, “We have lots of decisions to make about network capacity and utilization on a rapid-fire basis. We also need to do analysis of our pricing relative to the cost of providing services.”
With the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, iBasis can monitor call data reports that aggregate an enormous amount of data in order to spot quality problems in real time. Those reports, which previously took several hours to several days to run, can now be executed in mere seconds. This ability to identify and track anomalies in real time is essential to enabling better pricing and network management decisions. Saponar described its IBM Netezza data warehouse solution as “a massive compilation of analytics on data to determine what’s the best route for traffic, what’s the best quality, what’s the best margins and what’s the best profits of the company overall…If I can get a current view of my margin that’s up-to-the-second, it can completely change our view of the network and which provider we’re using.”
The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has given iBasis the ability to meet the needs of its different departments, providing the entire enterprise with the power to question everything. Floyd described the bottom line advantages delivered by the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance by saying, “Our sophisticated back-office systems have enabled us to turn complexity into competitive advantage by giving us the ability to manage call routing and rating of millions of international calls at a very high level of granularity. Deploying the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance enhances this ability while providing significant operating efficiencies. It will be a vital tool in accelerating future improvements, growth and profitability.”
About IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances
IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances revolutionized data warehousing and advanced analytics by integrating database, server and storage into a single, easy-to-manage appliance that requires minimal set-up and ongoing administration while producing faster and more consistent analytic performance. The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance family simplifies business analytics dramatically by consolidating all analytic activity in the appliance, right where the data resides, for industry-leading performance. Visit ibm.com/software/data/netezza to see how our family of data warehouse appliances eliminates complexity at every step and helps you drive true business value for your organization. For the latest data warehouse and advanced analytics blogs, videos and more, please visit: thinking.netezza.com.
About IBM Data Warehousing and Analytics Solutions
IBM provides the broadest and most comprehensive portfolio of data warehousing, information management and business analytic software, hardware and solutions to help customers maximize the value of their information assets and discover new insights to make better and faster decisions and optimize their business outcomes.
For more information
To learn more about the IBM Data Warehousing and Analytics Solutions, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner or visit: ibm.com/software/data/netezza.
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