Argus Information & Advisory Services analyzes monthly data for leading U.S., Canada, and U.K. credit card issuers. To increase the performance of its mission-critical data warehouse and storage solutions, Argus deployed Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, and Xiotech Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) storage blades. The solution has reduced the data center footprint and boosted disk throughput speed by four times while increasing scalability and reliability. Argus also saves money by consuming less power.Business Needs
New York–based Argus Information & Advisory Services provides data analysis and consulting services to major credit card companies and other financial services institutions. Argus products and solutions give customers a comprehensive framework for informed business decisions. “Our customers give us raw transactional data monthly, and we use that to produce analytical reports, benchmarked against relevant statistics,” says Nick Daffan, Managing Director, Argus Information & Advisory Services.
||With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Xiotech ISE storage blades, we can process customer data four times faster than before …. We no longer have an I/O bottleneck, so we can deliver more comprehensive, customized analytics faster to our customers.
Argus Information & Advisory Services
The massive Argus enterprise data warehouse, which was based on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software, handles more than 700 billion rows of customer data and more than 100 million credit accounts. It processes 1 billion monthly transactions. “This data is critical to our business, so it’s essential that the system is reliable,” says Daffan. For business success, Argus must deliver agile and flexible reporting, which requires fast throughput and data processing speeds. “Increasingly, our customers expect us to deliver more valuable analytics in shorter time frames,” says Daffan.
However, a huge input/output (I/O) bottleneck had developed with the company’s disk arrays. “We were maxing out at 200 MB per second of throughput, which wasn’t fast enough. Our employees were waiting for data queries to run, instead of doing analytical work,” Daffan says. The company also had only 50 terabytes of space available, which was insufficient.
Argus considered installing new disk arrays. “To get the performance we needed, it would have cost millions of dollars in storage from our previous vendor,” says Daffan. In late 2008, Argus began searching for a solution with better performance and scalability. Solution
After evaluating solutions from industry leaders, Argus decided to implement a Microsoft solution for its mission-critical transaction processing, data warehousing, and business intelligence needs. The solution includes the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services. Argus was especially interested in the row-level and page-level compression software in SQL Server 2008 R2, which can help cut storage costs and boost query performance by reducing I/O requirements.
To complete the solution, Argus turned to Xiotech Corporation, a Colorado-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that provides data storage hardware and management solutions. Xiotech helped Argus deploy 39 Xiotech ISE storage blades, which give Argus 100 terabytes of highly reliable storage space for its SQL Server 2008 R2 data warehouse.
The ISE storage blades scale in a linear fashion, increasing capacity and performance with each additional ISE. And because ISE storage blades use sealed DataPacs rather than individual disk enclosures, each DataPac delivers twice the Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) of traditional storage products by functioning as a single storage element.
Xiotech offers five years of hardware maintenance at no charge with its ISE products, which gives Argus more resources for additional infrastructure to support growth. Argus deployed the solution in August 2008.Benefits
Using its new solution, Argus processes customer data four times faster than before and can scale its warehouse to 100 terabytes. The company also saves money because it uses less storage space.
Delivers Innovative Software and Hardware Solution
With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Xiotech ISE storage blades, Argus has an innovative solution that helps the company better meet its customers’ analytical reporting needs. For example, with the new compression capabilities in SQL Server 2008 R2, along with the increased I/O performance offered by the Xiotech ISE storage blades, Argus has boosted disk throughput to 800 MB per second per server attached to the storage array. “With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Xiotech ISE storage blades, we can process customer data four times faster than before, on a budget we can afford,” says Daffan. “We no longer have an I/O bottleneck, so we can deliver more customized, comprehensive analytics faster to our customers.”
Increases Scalability, Reliability
The Xiotech ISE storage blades give Argus 100 terabytes of data storage space—twice as much as before—which means it has the scalability to handle its growing data warehouse. “Argus processes 1 billion transactions each month, and this solution provides the storage performance to support that,” says Keith Hageman, Storage Evangelist, Xiotech. Argus also has improved uptime. “The new system offers close to 99.999 percent availability,” says Hageman. “Employees have fast, reliable access to data whenever they need it.”
Reduces Data Center Footprint, Costs
Argus has gained more storage while using less data center space. “With only 3U of rack space, Argus can do what would take double or more the space and power of other solutions,” says Hageman. “And Argus still has the capacity to handle 700 billion rows of data in SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services.” The smaller footprint reduces data center costs. “Argus has fast performance and high availability for a huge, growing SQL Server 2008 R2 data warehouse,” says Stephen Sicola, CTO, Xiotech. “And the small footprint helps them save money and boost scalability.” SQL Server 2008 R2 data compression will further cut storage capacity costs. “The solution has paid for itself many times, in terms of the storage saved,” says Daffan.This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.