Publiceret: 2/10/2011
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Agoda Online Travel Firm Improves Availability and Service with Data Management Solution

When its global customer base tripled, Agoda, an online hotel reservation service, needed to improve the consistency and availability of its 20 terabytes of data. To improve service, the company streamlined data replication across multiple data centers with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 Enterprise. Agoda is also using SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services and SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services to enhance its business intelligence. Transactional data replication has reduced the time it takes to make companywide updates from a day to a few seconds and has helped the company implement a seamless disaster recovery strategy. Agoda has improved business insight and IT management. And with higher availability, the company is offering better customer service.

Situation

Part of Priceline.com, Agoda is a fast-growing online reservation service that focuses on offering affordable hotel prices. The company, which is based in Bangkok, Thailand, has more than 500 employees and provides reservations at more than 155,000 hotels worldwide.

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* If a data center goes offline, we can seamlessly continue service from another location. With SQL Server 2008 data replication, we always have a completely up-to-date set of our data at each site.  *

Arjan van der Meer
Director of IT Operations
Agoda

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The company’s representatives negotiate with hotels to ensure the best possible value for customers, and they provide 24-hour customer service in 30 languages. The combination of the human touch and industry-leading technology helped Agoda win Best Accommodation website in the 2008 TravelMole Web Awards for Asia. In addition, the company’s customer base has grown by triple digits annually since 2007.

The personalized customer service has been supported by Microsoft products including Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition data management software for online transaction processing (OLTP). Agoda also used the database solution as the backbone for its business intelligence (BI) processes. Although SQL Server 2005 had served Agoda well, the company wanted to enhance its use of SQL Server and the supporting infrastructure.

To keep up with its rapid growth, Agoda sought a scalable IT infrastructure that it could extend to meet multiple needs. High availability of mission-critical systems was also important. “As an e-commerce company with customers worldwide, our IT infrastructure is crucial to our existence,” says Joost Doevelaar, Chief Technology Officer at Agoda. “We absolutely must be up and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Downtime not only costs us direct revenue but also can reduce customer confidence in the brand.”

Agoda also wanted better disaster recovery capabilities for seamless business continuity if one of its data centers went offline. The company’s two main data centers are located in Hong Kong and New York, and a third data center in Bangkok hosts a data set for reporting. If a node or data center failed, the company wanted the capability to add nodes while online or to serve customers from another location with the same data set. Arjan van der Meer, Director of IT Operations at Agoda, says, “Because we are an online business, the heart and soul of the company basically runs on SQL Server.”

Data integrity is another area of focus for the company. It sought to ensure that customers in all locations, regardless of which Agoda website they use, saw the same room pricing and availability. However, because it could take a day to update all servers, some websites showed slightly different information. The process for synchronizing information was also labor-intensive, involving up to 45 separate tasks. Doevelaar says, “We required quite a lot of labor to make sure that the publication copy from our master database was actually dispersed to all of the databases supporting our websites.”

Solution

Agoda decided to deploy Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise on the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise operating system to take advantage of enhanced transactional replication capabilities. SQL Server 2008 uses the operating system’s enhanced TCP/IP stack to improve replication performance. By using server-to-server replication, Agoda knew it could distribute and synchronize data across its network more efficiently. It also thought the solution could better handle the growing volume of data—20 terabytes stored in SQL Server instances, including 3 terabytes in its data warehouse.

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* With SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services, we can quickly examine the data in any way we like. As a result, we can discover high-value patterns and relationships that simply couldn’t have been seen before.  *

Joost Doevelaar
Chief Technology Officer
Agoda

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The company also planned to use new BI data warehouse features. Agoda stores all sales information from online transaction processing and also search histories and click-through information from its websites. With help from Microsoft Services consultants, Agoda performed a proof of concept with SQL Server 2008, and it compared those results with similar studies of solutions from other vendors. Doevelaar says, “We worked with Microsoft Services because we thought it would have better access to internal resources in case there were problems.”

It concluded that SQL Server 2008 was the best choice for BI processes. “We did an extensive study of the different tools available for creating data warehouses, including traditional names such as Business Objects and Oracle,” says Doevelaar. “We found that SQL Server 2008 was at least as powerful as other options, and we knew deployment would be easy because we were already using SQL Server elsewhere in our operations.”

The company’s experience with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition development system and the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 also contributed to the decision. “One of the great strengths of the Microsoft platform is that its various components work great together,” says van der Meer. “We used most of the technologies, and they all interoperate well. As a result, we can build a more stable platform.”

In November 2008, Agoda deployed the database solution on IBM System x3850 server computers with help from Microsoft Services. A publisher server and two clustered distributor servers in Hong Kong replicate incremental changes to New York and Bangkok. From there, changes are published to leaf-node subscribers and web servers in multiple locations. Through leaf-node subscribers, web servers can push local changes back to the publisher server Hong Kong. And if the Hong Kong data center goes offline, it fails over to the New York site, which has an identical copy of data. Agoda administrators can add new database servers at any location without interrupting service.

The company is also using SQL Server 2008 in its data warehouse for BI activities. The solution includes an extract, transform, and load (ETL) tier that imports sales information from OLTP systems. In addition, the company uses SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services to support daily operations and business decisions.

Agoda is taking advantage of management features in SQL Server 2008 as well. For instance, it manages server workloads and system resource consumption with Resource Governor. The company is using data compression and backup compression to improve performance and save storage space in its 3PAR InServ E200 storage array.

Benefits

By implementing a solution based on the Microsoft platform, Agoda has improved the availability of data throughout its global network. Customers everywhere have access to the same information, and the company has better insight into its business operations. In addition, data management is easier.

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* The data compression and backup compression technology in SQL Server 2008 is helping us to get more life out of our existing infrastructure.  *

Joost Doevelaar
Chief Technology Officer
Agoda

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Higher Availability

Agoda is improving availability and business continuity with SQL Server 2008. “During the past two years, we have had perhaps one or two hours of downtime for our databases, and most of that was caused by either hardware or network problems,” says Doevelaar. “The Microsoft mission-critical platform provides enterprise-grade uptime. With SQL Server 2008, we’ve gained industry-leading high availability.”

The company has also gained geographically dispersed disaster recovery. “If a data center goes offline, we can seamlessly continue service from another location,” van der Meer says. “With SQL Server 2008 data replication, we always have a completely up-to-date set of our data at each site.”

In addition, the solution is helping Agoda manage growth more efficiently while improving customer service. “We have a responsibility to our customers to keep our systems available even if a disaster takes down a data center,” says Doevelaar. “When one of our customers arrives in Jakarta in the middle of the night, we want to be sure that the hotel room is ready and waiting. That kind of commitment to the customer requires near-continuous uptime, and that’s what we have now with SQL Server 2008.”

Faster Data Replication

Agoda now has greater data consistency in its global operations with SQL Server 2008 data replication. “With our previous architecture, it could take a full day for updated content to go online throughout all of our systems,” says van der Meer. “Now our data is updated within a few seconds. It is very important for us to know that all of our customers, wherever they may be, are seeing the same information.”

Enhanced Business Insight

The company not only has access to the most current information, it is also able to look at it in new ways. For example, it can use SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services to gain near-real-time insight into business activities.

“We can perform queries that we previously avoided because they took more than two hours to run,” says Doevelaar. “But with SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services, we can quickly examine the data in any way we like. As a result, we can discover high-value patterns and relationships that simply couldn’t have been seen before.” Reporting is also easier. Previously, employees submitted requests to a specialist to create reports, but now they can generate their own reports in minutes.

Simplified Management

By replicating data more efficiently, Agoda can maximize existing skills and resources. “We’ve saved the equivalent of at least one full-time database administrator with SQL Server 2008,” says Doevelaar. “We didn’t reduce staff, but because they no longer have to worry about moving data around, people have more time to optimize databases and other elements of our operations.”

The company is also using features such as Resource Governor and backup compression to get the most from its technology investments. “We have more than 3 terabytes in our data warehouse, and it’s constantly growing,” says Doevelaar. “The data compression and backup compression technology in SQL Server 2008 is helping us to get more life out of our existing infrastructure.”

Microsoft Server Product Portfolio

For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to:
www.microsoft.com/servers

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Agoda products and services, visit the website at:
www.agoda.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Løsningen - kort fortalt



Organisations størrelse
500 medarbejdere

Organisationsprofil

Agoda, based in Bangkok, Thailand, provides online hotel reservation services for more than 155,000 hotels worldwide. The company has more than 500 employees.


Situationen

To support rapid growth, Agoda wanted to enhance its infrastructure and improve data availability and consistency for customers in multiple locations.


Løsningen

Agoda implemented Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise for data replication. It also uses SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services and SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services.


Fordele

  • Higher availability
  • Faster data replication
  • Enhanced business insight
  • Simplified management


Hardware
  • IBM System x3850 server computers
  • 3PAR InServ E200 storage array

Software & Services
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • BMC - Business Intelligence
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

Industri(er)
Travel

Land
Thailand

Forretningsbehov
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Data Management
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Business Critical
  • Mission Critical

Udfordringen
  • High Availability
  • Data Warehousing

Languages
English

Partner(e)
Microsoft Services