AMD, a leading designer and integrator of technology that powers millions of intelligent devices, wanted better business intelligence (BI) tools. To help improve reporting, the company is implementing a self-service BI solution based on Microsoft
SQL Server 2014 Enterprise and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013. By working with tools such as SQL Server 2014 Power View, the company expects to speed implementation while simplifying access to data. As a result, AMD can help improve both business agility
and efficiency companywide.
Based in Sunnyvale, California, AMD produces technologies such as semiconductors that power personal computers, mobile devices, game consoles, and cloud servers. With a global customer base and a presence in multiple markets, the company needed better tools
for monitoring manufacturing processes and other business operations.
More than a terabyte of test information was loaded weekly into a data warehouse, which was used by business analysts to run thousands of custom queries. To accelerate performance and handle increasingly larger data sets, the company had implemented Microsoft
SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse in 2011.
The solution provided multiple benefits, including faster reporting and a single source of truth for operational data. However, the data warehouse team wanted to make information more accessible to people who might lack specialized analytics skills. “We’ve
had a lot of demand for self-service BI for a long time,” says Suzie Ng, BI Architect at AMD. She notes that the demand came not only from engineering teams interested in production data, but from business users throughout the organization. She says, “The
larger overall demand for BI came from people interested in financial and supply chain data.”
The challenge database managers faced was that the data visualization tools the company was using did not work well with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software and productivity applications familiar to business users. Mark Monroe, DBA Architect at AMD, says,
“We have BI tools from various vendors, but often the end user will say ‘just give me something in Excel.’”
AMD wanted a solution that would be easy to use and work well with existing infrastructure including office applications, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and Active Directory Domain Services. Renjye Yu, Senior Manager of IT Data Warehouse Infrastructure at
AMD, says, “We wanted an end-to-end solution that would provide a seamless environment from multiple data sources all the way to the end user.”
||With SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint Server 2013, we saw an opportunity to gain a highly integrated environment that would give end users more control over their data without requiring us to increase the complexity of our architecture.
| Jesse Cantu
IT Director of Data Warehousing and Engineering
In October, 2013, AMD decided to implement a BI solution based on SQL Server 2014 Enterprise and SharePoint Server 2013. The data warehouse team wanted to take advantage of built-in, self-service BI tools such as Power View, an interactive data visualization
feature of Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Reporting Services. Jesse Cantu, IT Director of Data Warehousing and Engineering at AMD, says, “With SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint Server 2013, we saw an opportunity to gain a highly integrated environment that would give
end users more control over their data without requiring us to increase the complexity of our architecture.”
AMD deployed the Microsoft BI tools in a preproduction environment to prepare for a production launch in mid-2014. The data warehouse team created several dashboards in Power View, as well as workbooks with SQL Server 2014 PowerPivot for Excel.
Because Power View connects to both tabular and multidimensional data models, AMD business users can quickly visualize data from online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes and work with a variety of charts and graphs as well as key performance indicators.
The reports can then be saved in a SharePoint 2013 gallery and easily shared with other users in the company.
AMD looks forward to exploring additional capabilities, including mapping technologies with Microsoft Power BI.
With a solution based on SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint Server 2013, AMD is moving toward self-service BI, simplifying access to data, and encouraging user adoption.
Easier Implementation and Simplified BI
With SQL Server 2014, AMD is simplifying implementation for its IT team as well as access to data for end users. “We already have Microsoft Office on our PCs and laptops,” says Monroe. “So we can take advantage of familiar tools such as Excel while unleashing
new BI capabilities with SQL Server 2014. As a result, we can roll out a BI solution to a large user base.”
Better Business Insight and Operational Support
The company expects that the BI tools will benefit multiple business processes worldwide, including supply chain management. “Microsoft BI tools, including SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint Server 2013, will empower people who make the decisions in our supply
chain to manage their inventory in near-real time,” says Matthew Floyd, BI Architect at AMD.
Faster implementation and accelerated business insight will help AMD improve agility. “If we can get information faster with SQL Server 2014, it will help speed the flow of information to people for better understanding and decision-making ability.” says
Yu. “Microsoft BI is easy to adopt and to use, and it provides information people need when they need it.”
More Efficient and Leaner IT
The company expects to improve overall efficiency with Microsoft self-service BI. Instead of pulling together information and creating custom queries, data warehouse managers can work on new solutions. “The advantage I see with SQL Server 2014 and self-service
BI is that AMD doesn’t need to have a gigantic IT department to get everything done,” says Floyd. “We can empower employees throughout the company—from power users to people who are unfamiliar with analytics—to create reports. In turn, this frees our IT team
to do what it does best, which is enhancing the data warehouse and implementing the latest enterprise BI tools.”
This case study is for informational purposes only.