2-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 7/11/2013
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Edgenet Data Services Firm Gains Real-Time Access to Product Data with In-Memory Technology

For Edgenet, serving up real-time information is its lifeblood. To ensure that its customers receive timely, accurate product data, Edgenet powers its online selling guide with the In-memory OLTP solution delivered with Microsoft SQL Server 2014. Edgenet is also using self-service business intelligence (BI) to improve its own operations. By taking advantage of Microsoft in-memory technologies, the company can provide real-time access to product data, gains seven times faster throughput, and improves both customer satisfaction and business insight.


Business Need

Edgenet provides optimized product data for suppliers, retailers, and search engines including Bing and Google. Used online and in stores, Edgenet solutions ensure that businesses and consumers can make decisions based on timely, accurate product information. Its portfolio includes guided selling solutions such as new Ezeeguides tools that are designed to create a personalized shopping experience.

Edgenet knew that while an engaging user interface was important to its customers, the accuracy of data returned was even more critical. “If you’re shopping and put something in your cart, you’re going to be dissatisfied if you find out that it’s not really available,” says Michael Steineke, Vice President of Information Technology at Edgenet. “The more we can ensure that the data presented is accurate, the greater customer satisfaction we can deliver.”

The company’s first Ezeeguides customer, a leading seller of aftermarket auto parts, wanted to use the application in each of its 4,000 stores located across the United States. To optimize performance under a heavy workload, the application would return product information from a cache instead of querying production databases. However, fast performance would have little benefit if the information itself couldn’t be updated quickly and easily. Because the company received high volumes of data from multiple sources, it was unable to write directly to the Ezeeguides database without conflicting with read processes and locking transactions.

Instead, the company received files into a staging environment, where it transformed and structured data to be consumed by the Ezeeguides application. It could take a day to prepare and load the information, so Edgenet looked for an alternative. To help businesses improve customer satisfaction, the company wanted an online transaction processing (OLTP) solution that would provide real-time access to information.
 

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* By using in-memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014 we can have our read and write activities running on the same database without locking. We no longer have to wait a day or even an hour to prepare data. It’s a real-time system. *

Michael Steineke
Vice President of Information Technology
Edgenet

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Solution

Edgenet was using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, and it was working on an in-house solution that it estimated would cut the time it took to update data to one hour. However, the company shifted gears in March 2011 when it heard about new Microsoft in-memory OLTP technology. Edgenet realized it could take advantage of an in-memory OLTP solution to improve throughput and eliminate read-write locks. The company decided to become an early adopter of the technology, which would be built into SQL Server 2014.

Excited by its performance gains, Edgenet opted to use the pre-release version of the in-memory OLTP solution in its production environment. The memory-optimized software is currently rolling out to the first of 4,000 stores nationwide. Instead of separately staging and preparing the information, the company now loads it directly into the Ezeeguides database without conflicting with read processes.

To improve its own business intelligence, Edgenet decided to use the BI Semantic Model to create both tabular and multidimensional data models. The solution includes SQL Server 2014 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2014 PowerPivot for Excel, which is also based on SQL Server in-memory technologies. In addition, Edgenet is using Power View, an interactive data-visualization tool introduced in SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. In the past, the company’s database administrators pulled together information and wrote queries for business users. Now, those users are creating their own reports and dashboards with self-service BI tools, and modeling huge volumes of data from multiple sources in seconds. “We could be querying across 2 terabytes of data in SQL Server,” says Steineke. “And when we’re using SQL Server Power View, there can be more than 4 billion rows in one table.”

Benefits

With SQL Server in-memory technologies, Edgenet has gained real-time access to product data, faster throughput, better customer satisfaction, and improved BI capabilities.

Achieves Real-Time Access to Data

With Microsoft in-memory technologies, Edgenet is improving BI for its business users, customers, and, ultimately, consumers. Its interactive Ezeeguides solution asks simple lifestyle or project-related questions and then quickly delivers personalized, accurate information on pricing and availability. “By using in-memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014, we can have our read and write activities running on the same database without locking,” says Steineke. “We no longer have to wait a day or even an hour to stage and prepare data. It’s a real-time system.”

Gains Seven Times Faster Throughput

The company is also improving scalability. “Since in-memory OLTP removes all the locks, it also eliminates the read-write contention,” says Steineke. “As a result, we can load more than one customer at a time, which we were unable to do before, and our throughput is seven times faster.”

Improves Customer Satisfaction

The company also expects to increase customer satisfaction with real-time access to information. “Our reputation is based on providing highly accurate and clean data for products,” says Steineke. “With SQL Server 2014 in-memory OLTP, we can ensure that we’re giving the correct data to the end-customer or sales associate. It’s all about presenting the right data, at the right time, and in a form that’s easy to use.”

Enhances BI with Self-Service Tools

Edgenet employees are reporting gains in usability with built-in BI capabilities. Business users can work with multiple data sources and quickly model data to make better business decisions without IT help.

“The BI Semantic Model in SQL Server, as well as built-in tools like Power View, enables users to get insights faster than they could previously. They don’t need to wait for database administrators to write queries or get reports up and running.”

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



Organization Size: 200 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Edgenet offers data solutions that help retailers and manufacturers market and sell products more efficiently.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Analysis Services
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014 PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
IT Services

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

IT Issue
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • High Performance Computing

Languages
English

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