Recall, a records-management firm, needed faster access to key performance indicators and more intuitive business intelligence (BI) tools. The company consolidated four data centers into a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data warehouse. The solution’s
performance enhancements speed employee access to more detailed data. By consolidating into a data warehouse, the company saved U.S.$1 million in hardware and licensing costs.
Recall provides records-management solutions to a worldwide customer base that includes more than 50,000 law firms, banks, governments, healthcare providers, financial firms, and other companies. The company stores paper, digital, and tape files securely
or it destroys them as directed by customers.
||With the SQL Server 2012 data warehouse, we won’t need disk arrays in each data center to handle all of that extra volume. This alone will save us $500,000.
| Todd Pinniger
Senior Manager of Architecture and Product Development
To support agility and growth, Recall needs to be able to access current key performance indicator (KPI) information about its records inventory, customers, and operations. Previously, to obtain companywide information, Recall had to synchronize data stored
in 35 databases at four regional data centers, including several multi-terabyte databases. The synchronization process was so time-consuming and labor-intensive that company metrics could only be updated once a month. This delay made it difficult for the business
to make decisions or answer shareholder information requests as quickly as it wanted to.
The company’s ability to analyze its data was also limited. To perform custom analysis, IT employees had to run reports against all 35 databases worldwide and import the results into a spreadsheet tool, a process that could take weeks.
To improve operations, Recall wanted to consolidate information from its regional data centers into one data warehouse that could update massive data volumes quickly and support detailed analysis. The company also wanted BI tools that would help business
users perform custom analysis with less IT support.
Recall considered BI solutions from Panorama, CORDA, QlikView, Tableau, and SAP. The company ultimately decided to base its new solution on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise data management software running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating
system. “We were already using Microsoft technology for many critical company systems, so we were very familiar with the environment and confident about its reliability,” says Todd Pinniger, Senior Manager of Architecture and Product Development at Recall.
With help from Microsoft partners Prologika and Berg Information Technology, Recall started deployment in August 2011 and went into production in February 2012. Recall also has 24-hour access to Microsoft Services Premier Support for help resolving problems.
The solution includes a cluster with two active nodes, one with SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services and the other running SQL Server 2012 Integration Services. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services run on a second, load-balanced
cluster. The software is installed on Dell PowerEdge R810 server computers attached to an EMC Symmetrix storage area network.
The new data warehouse holds about 7 terabytes of data in three databases of about 3 billion rows apiece. The company is using the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 xVelocity memory-optimized columnstore index feature, which speeds the processing and querying of
very large data sets by storing index data in columns, not rows.
“Before, certain queries were taking longer than we wanted,” says Carlos Rodrigues, a Business Intelligence Architect at Recall. “After we started using the xVelocity columnstore index, those queries dropped from about 20 minutes to less than 2 minutes.”
Recall has access to additional performance enhancements in SQL Server 2012, such as compression capabilities that can cut data volumes by 50 percent and the SQL Server 2012 Resource Governor, which helps administrators achieve more predictable performance.
For self-service BI capabilities, Recall is using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Power View, an interactive data exploration and visualization feature in SQL Server Reporting Services that operates in SharePoint Server 2010. Recall is also taking advantage of
PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, which provides simple tools for building reports, scorecards, and dashboards for monitoring KPIs. The tools are used regularly by approximately 400 analysts and managers.
By deploying a SQL Server 2012 solution, Recall has cut costs by U.S.$1 million. Decision makers now have faster access to critical company information, and the IT department has less manual work to do.
Saves $1 Million in Hardware and Licensing Costs
Because the new solution eliminates the need to replicate huge volumes of data in each of the company’s four regional data centers, Recall will no longer need to purchase and maintain as much hardware. “With the SQL Server 2012 data warehouse, we won’t need
disk arrays in each data center to handle all of that extra volume,” says Pinniger. “This alone will save us $500,000.”
By consolidating its data warehouses, Recall will also reduce its number of SQL Server licenses. “With a global data warehouse based on SQL Server 2012, we will be able to go from 12 to 4 licenses, saving another $500,000,” says Rodrigues.
Speeds Access to Critical Information
The new solution provides much faster access to KPIs and other reports. “With our previous solution, certain metrics were only updated every month,” says Rodrigues. “With the SQL Server 2012 data warehouse, decision makers no longer have to wait until the
end of the month and can instead access updated information on a daily basis. That keeps the business agile and helps us respond more quickly to shareholder requests.”
Cuts Manual IT Workloads
With all of the company’s data in one central repository, performing custom analysis no longer requires intensive effort by IT employees. “Before, it could take as long as two weeks to manually pull data from all 35 local databases, import it into another
database, and then run queries against it,” says Pinniger. “And if, after that process, the business wanted to slice that data slightly differently, we would have had to start over. Now, with the SQL Server 2012 data warehouse and xVelocity, that two-week
process has been reduced to about an hour’s work, which the business users can perform themselves.”
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