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Posted: 10/4/2010
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WildTangent Gaming Firm Gains Stronger Customer Analysis Tools and Faster Data Processing

WildTangent is an online games service company that delivers a premium entertainment experience to consumers worldwide. To understand its customers better and help boost revenue, the company wanted stronger data analysis tools and faster reporting capabilities. As part of a new business intelligence solution, WildTangent deployed Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, a new set of reference architectures optimized for data warehouse workloads. Now, executives have much better data about customers, and the company can process that data faster than before, using existing resources.

Business Needs

WildTangent is an interactive entertainment and media company with two business segments: WildTangent Games and WildTangent Media. WildTangent Games offers a diverse portfolio of premium gaming content to millions of casual, family, and hardcore gamers around the world. Based in Redmond, Washington, WildTangent publishes games on its own website and on partner websites. Each month, millions of people enjoy more than 1,300 games from more than 100 game developers.

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* With SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, and SharePoint Server 2010, we now have the right business analysis tools, the right performance, and access to the right data.  *

Scott Moran
Manager, Reporting Team
WildTangent

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Because WildTangent constantly strives to maximize revenue and add new customers, it is critical that the company has excellent data analysis capabilities. However, it did not have the insight into customer behavior that it wanted. “We capture a lot of data about our products, usage patterns, and customers, but we wanted to improve the visibility into what’s really happening with our customers,” says Tom Grina, Chief Financial Officer, WildTangent. “We could analyze which games performed well, but we couldn’t fully see how customers interact with us. We’re in a competitive industry, and the key is understanding customer behavior so you can serve them in the most effective ways.”

WildTangent also needed to address performance issues with its enterprise data warehouse, which was based on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software. “From an operations standpoint, things were challenging,” says Danny Cecil, Vice President of Operations, WildTangent. “The overall system was slow, and that slowed down the data reporting process. We wanted a better-performing solution that had the right architecture to help us scale to meet our growth objectives.”

In late 2009, WildTangent decided to deploy a solution that could offer better processing speeds and improved business intelligence.

Solution

After considering solutions from various vendors, WildTangent chose to implement a new solution based on the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services. The solution also includes Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, a set of scalable reference architectures for SQL Server 2008 that takes advantage of pretested hardware and best practices for data warehousing.

Working with Redmond-based Brightlight Consulting, a business intelligence and data warehousing consultancy, WildTangent installed SQL Server 2008 Enterprise on existing Dell PowerEdge 2950 server computers in early 2010. The solution also includes several Dell PowerVault MD1000 storage arrays.

WildTangent also plans to implement Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010, a new data analysis tool. “We’ll be putting in a full Microsoft business intelligence suite,” says Scott Moran, Manager, Reporting Team, WildTangent. “This will give us excellent data analysis tools, high performance, and consistent access to data across the organization.”

Benefits

With SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, WildTangent can now give its key decision makers updated customer data that can influence business strategy. The company can also process data faster, and it saves resources by using existing hardware.

Transforms Business Intelligence, Improves Competitiveness

With its new business intelligence solution, WildTangent has transformed its business. “We went from a failing production system to a mission-critical system and a trusted source of business information, literally changing the landscape of the company,” says Moran. “With SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, and SharePoint Server 2010, we now have the right business analysis tools, the right performance, and access to the right data across the organization.”

These capabilities put WildTangent in a better position to compete in the online games industry. “With this new solution, we can dig deeper into our data to view what customers’ choices are and why they’re behaving the way they do,” says Grina. “If we test a pricing change, for example, we can immediately gauge the impact on the quantity of games played and revenue dollars. Overall, we can put the right data into the hands of our executive team, so we can make better strategic decisions.”

Speeds Data Processing, Increases Disk Throughput

SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse provides modular scaling, balancing servers to provide up to 200 megabytes (MB) per second for each processing unit core. By retrofitting its existing hardware with this new architecture and by installing faster storage arrays, WildTangent has greatly increased data processing speeds. For instance, the company has been able to improve its extract, transform, and load (ETL) process, which customizes data and loads it into the warehouse. “Our ETL has gone from between 14 and 18 hours to less than 4 hours,” says Moran.

Also, the company’s disk throughput has increased from less than 100 MB per second to more than 500 MB per second.

Capitalizes on Existing Hardware

Because WildTangent deployed its new business intelligence solution on existing resources, the company saved time and costs. “We’re using equipment we already had for this new solution,” says Grina. “We were confident that this solution would work for us, because SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse is pretested. We didn’t have to start over with brand new hardware, so we saved a considerable amount of money. It also provides scalability, so we can easily support our future growth.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 150 employees

Organization Profile

WildTangent is an online games and advertising company that hosts websites where players can purchase or rent current popular video games.


Hardware

  • Dell PowerEdge 2950 server computers
  • Dell PowerVault MD1000 storage arrays


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
Media & Cable

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Critical
  • Mission Critical
  • Data Management

IT Issue
  • Data Warehousing
  • High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Brightlight Consulting

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