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Posted: 5/24/2012
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SunGard SunGard Saves Testing Time and Boosts Performance of Financial Risk Software

SunGard wanted to improve performance for its Adaptiv suite of financial risk management products, so it upgraded its Microsoft database solution. SunGard uses the solution to help slash time setting up test environments that effectively simulate production workloads from about a week to about a day. It uses increased visibility into behind-the-scenes functions to fine-tune performance. And it has cut its end-of-day processing tasks—which must be accomplished in a very short timeframe—by 16 percent.

Business Needs

SunGard is a global provider of financial and other IT solutions. Headquartered in Wayne, Pennsylvania, SunGard has annual revenues of U.S.$4.5 billion and ranked number 480 in the 2012 Fortune 500.

* Because of the new readable secondaries offered by SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, we … can cut 30 minutes from our three-hour end-of-day processes. *

Karl Catling
Director of Adaptiv Labs

The SunGard Adaptiv suite helps banks and financial institutions manage risk across the enterprise. Because these functions are mission-critical, Adaptiv clients seek service level agreements (SLAs) with SunGard that establish strict standards on software availability, response times, and other technical performance characteristics.

“Every year, the volume of data increases,” says Karl Catling, Director of Adaptiv Labs, a research group within the SunGard Adaptiv business unit. “Our clients need to put more data through the system and want faster response times.” Every night the system does a great deal of processing and reporting on data it has accumulated through the day—in a nightly window limited by SLAs to three hours. The system must be up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “High availability and a robust database engine are crucial,” Catling says.

SunGard Adaptiv has long used Microsoft SQL Server data management software as its online transaction processing (OTLP) database engine. Catling says that the team has been happy with the software, but “We’re always looking to the next version to gain performance benefits.” In this case, the performance benefits SunGard was seeking included increased reliability and faster processing.


In February 2011, SunGard started testing a prerelease version of Microsoft SQL Server 2012. After a year of benchmark tests and programming adjustments, SunGard released a version of Adaptiv powered by SQL Server 2012 in April 2012.

The new version of Adaptiv uses SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services to analyze dynamic cubes of about 2 terabytes in size. SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services then renders key data into dashboards powered by PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

SunGard takes advantage of three key features of SQL Server 2012. First, it uses SQL Server Distributed Replay, a new utility that administrators can use to replay a large workload from multiple computers to simulate real user activity in an intense mission-critical setting. “Using SQL Server Distributed Replay to test different scenarios, including upgrades, before deploying in production helps improve deployment success,” says Jamie Downs, Database Administrator at Adaptiv.

Second, SunGard uses SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, a new high-availability and disaster-recovery solution, to conduct reporting and backup operations on real-time, read-only replicas of the production database. Using readable secondaries reduces the workloads that rely on the primary database. SunGard also uses AlwaysOn availability groups to enhance failover capabilities.

Third, SunGard uses the SQL Server 2012 Extended Events performance-monitoring system to capture detailed data about the performance of Adaptiv and SQL Server 2012. “Extended Events was available in SQL Server 2008, but the new version has an updated user interface where you can actually see results as the events are being captured,” Downs says. “This helps us proactively monitor their performance.”

SunGard runs Adaptiv and SQL Server 2012 primarily in hosted environments for its clients using HP ProLiant DL580 G7 and G8 database server computers. Internally, the Adaptiv business unit has 200–300 developers and testers running more than 100 instances of SQL Server 2012.

SunGard plans to continue looking for ways to use Microsoft technologies to improve the performance of Adaptiv. It also plans to investigate the Microsoft SQL Azure managed cloud service, part of the Windows Azure platform, as an option to improve the scalability and thus the cost-effectiveness of its solution for smaller clients.


SunGard is using SQL Server 2012 to help save time and resources while increasing visibility and performance for Adaptiv, its mission-critical application.

Saves Time and Resources

SunGard uses SQL Server Distributed Replay to effectively simulate a production environment for testing, rather than having to manually set up that environment. “To set all that up from scratch, tying up a lot of hardware in our labs and a lot of different types of staff people, it used to easily take a week,” Catling says. “With SQL Server 2012 Distributed Replay, we have reduced that time from a week to a day.”

Increases Visibility

With SQL Server 2012 Extended Events, SunGard gains better visibility into how Adaptiv is functioning within SQL Server 2012. SunGard uses this increased visibility to fine-tune the performance of its software.

“The new interface in SQL Server 2012 Extended Events makes it easy to see what’s going on behind the scenes, such as which indexes are being used,” Catling says. “It’s also very lightweight, so we can capture more information while having less of an impact on the performance of the database server.” Because performance is so important to its customers, SunGard is converting this increased visibility to customer satisfaction.

Improves Performance by 30 Minutes per Day

SunGard uses features of SQL Server 2012 to help improve the performance of Adaptiv and more effectively meet the SLAs set by its clients. “For example, because of the new readable secondaries offered by SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, we don’t have to wait until the end of the day to back up the production database,” Catling says. “That can cut 30 minutes from our three-hour end-of-day processes, enabling our clients to perform extra risk analysis so they benefit too.”

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

Organization Profile

SunGard, based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is a software and technology services company serving approximately 25,000 customers in more than 70 countries.

  • HP ProLiant DL580 G7 and G8 server computers

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services
  • PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries
Financial Services

United States

Business Need
  • Mission Critical
  • Business Critical

IT Issue
High Availability