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Posted: 5/4/2012
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BICS Telecom Performs Database Queries Five Times Faster, Gains Ability to Sustain Growth

BICS, an affiliate of the Belgacom Group, offers wholesale telecommunication solutions to communication service providers worldwide. BICS needed to boost its database performance and increase availability for its internal collaboration application. The firm implemented a Microsoft database management and high-availability solution. As a result, the company can perform database queries five times faster and can sustain continued business growth. BICS will also be able to ensure higher availability for its critical employee application.

Business Needs

BICS, a subsidiary of the Belgacom Group, is a fast-growing wholesale telecommunications carrier that offers tailored solutions—especially voice, mobile data, and capacity—based on the needs of customers throughout the world.

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* With SQL Server 2012 xVelocity, we saw database query speeds increase by five times. With that kind of performance boost, we will be able to process many more queries each day and respond much faster to our customers. *

Jan De Cocker
IT Operations Manager
BICS

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The company’s recent fast business growth has contributed to a major increase in data loaded into its 11-terabyte data warehouse. This information includes all subscriber call data records, which document phone call details. “As the demand for our services continues to grow, so does the data about our subscribers,” says Jan De Cocker, IT Operations Manager, BICS. “We’re loading about 80 million records a day into the warehouse, up from 60 million only a year ago.”

To keep up with the growing volume of data, BICS needed to boost its database performance, which was based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software. “We need to be able to load more data in shorter time frames, without affecting end users,” says De Cocker.

BICS also sought to improve the performance of an external web-based application that customers use to access their call information. “We need to process more and more customer queries on that database as usage increases,” De Cocker says. “We wanted to improve query response times, which fluctuated between 15 and 60 minutes, and we wanted to minimize the time needed to load call record requests and other data into the database, which varied from 90 minutes to more than two hours. By minimizing that, we could respond to queries faster.”

Improving database performance was important not only to meet the company’s data growth, but also to handle future needs. “We plan to extend the customer application to be able to handle data for other information in addition to telephone records,” says De Cocker. “The combined volume of all those data sources will easily exceed 300 million records per day. To load that kind of volume, we need a reliable, fast-performing solution.”

BICS also wanted to improve availability for its internal Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 application, used by all employees for communication and collaboration purposes. “If SharePoint Server is down even for a few minutes, we immediately hear complaints from employees,” says De Cocker. “That application is becoming more critical every day, so it’s highly important that it’s up and running at all times.”

BICS began looking for a new database solution in August 2011.

Solution

BICS turned to Belgian-based Microsoft partner Kohera, for assistance in finding a new solution. “We suggested that BICS upgrade to Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise, because of the new SQL Server 2012 xVelocity memory-optimized columnstore index feature. This feature stores data by columns rather than rows and helps boost database query processing times,” says Frederik Vandeputte, Managing Partner, Kohera.

“We were already considering an upgrade to SQL Server 2012, and the xVelocity columnstore index helped confirm the decision,” says Ludo Bernaerts, ITN Senior Operational Engineer, Belgacom, who worked with Kohera on the solution’s design.

In addition, BICS was interested in deploying the SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn high-availability feature, which provides readable database-mirroring capabilities and availability groups to support multidatabase failover. Enterprises can use AlwaysOn to read from secondary databases and can also offload backup operations to these replicas.

In December 2011, Kohera helped BICS implement SQL Server 2012 on new HP ProLiant DL580 G7 server computers. Kohera redesigned the company’s database to take advantage of xVelocity and the enhanced database partitioning features in SQL Server 2012. BICS will begin using AlwaysOn by the end of 2012.

Benefits

With its new solution, BICS can perform database queries five times faster, which helps it respond faster to customers. The solution also loads more data in a shorter time frame, so BICS can continue its rapid business growth. BICS will also be able to offer higher availability for its internal SharePoint application.

Performs Queries Five Times Faster andImproves Customer Response Times

After implementing the SQL Server 2012 solution, BICS saw a major boost in query execution speeds. “With the SQL Server 2012 xVelocity, we saw database query speeds increase by five times,” says De Cocker. “With that kind of performance boost, we will be able to process many more queries each day and respond much faster to our customers. We can now make sure that call record requests executed by our customers via the extranet application are handled within an hour. We will also be able to settle disputes with customers and suppliers more quickly.”

Will Help BICS Sustain Business Growth

With the ability to perform faster queries, BICS can sustain its rapid growth. “A better-performing system will help us extract larger volumes of data faster,” says Bernaerts. “We expect more growth in terms of call data records in the coming years, and SQL Server 2012 gives us the performance we need to sustain that.”

The solution also improves the company’s ability to compete. “All of our competitors have similar solutions in place, but none of them provides the fast performance that the SQL Server 2012 solution gives us,” De Cocker says. “This solution is cost-effective and gives us the business efficiency we need to be successful.”

Will Ensure High Availability

Once BICS implements SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, the company will be able to ensure reliability and availability for its critical SharePoint Server 2010 application. “Most of our employees collaborate with each other on SharePoint Server every day, so there is a huge business impact if they can’t get into the system,” De Cocker says. “SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn will give us the availability we need for our SharePoint implementation, so employees can work in the most productive way.”

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



Organization Size: 400 employees

Organization Profile

BICS, based in Brussels, is a joint venture of Belgacom, Swisscom, and MTN that delivers best-in-class global solutions for voice, messaging, roaming, connectivity and mobile financial services to hundreds of telecommunication providers around the world.


Hardware
  • HP ProLiant DL 580 G7 server computers

Software and Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise

Vertical Industries
Telecommunications

Country/Region
Belgium

IT Issue
  • Data Warehousing
  • High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Kohera

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