4-page Case Study - Posted 5/26/2009
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Web Analytics Company Studies Data From 350,000 Web Sites Using SQL Server 2008
An innovative creator of Web analytics, AT Internet, based in Bordeaux, France, prides itself in advancing its products to the point of providing what it calls Online Intelligence. The company monitors more than 350,000 Web sites, analyzing 25 billion Web pages per month to help its customers gain insight to what users are doing on the Web. The company required an enterprise-grade database to support the real-time analytics it performs with some 20 terabytes of information. AT Internet built its solution using the Microsoft® Application Platform, and recently upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 Enterprise database (64-bit) software. SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services is used to create multidimensional cubes for analytics. The company has found that SQL Server 2008 provided a robust and scalable solution with enterprise-grade performance.
AT Internet is an independent and trustworthy company that enables an integral analysis of Web sites, intranet and mobile sites. It has provided real-time, online intelligence solutions since 1995. Thanks to its technology and integrity, it has enabled Web analytics to evolve into decision making solutions —online intelligence systems. The company’s unique solution relies on a robust and reliable technological platform. By creating useful information, it facilitates the work of the different functions in a company to stay focused on performance.
Data collected and analyzed are varied and cost effective. They offer a centralized vision of an organization’s online performance for people directly or indirectly involved in the internet strategy. Thanks to the many audited Web sites (more than 350,000), the company also enables studies to be published for exclusive and reliable benchmark data.
The company provides its real-time Online Intelligence solutions to more than 3,500 customers from its offices in nine countries. AT Internet has an impressive list of customers, including global leaders such as Air France, BMW, Cartier, Kellogg’s, Krups, LeMonde, Pfizer, Ryanair, and Samsung.
At the heart of AT Internet’s operation is its Analyzer II solution, which incorporates data from the Web sites that the company automatically audits to measure user activities.
The Analyzer II solution offers a wide range of analytic products, including market studies to define specific types of Web activity; performance studies to provide analytics for site performance; and competitive reports to provide insights into how other sites are doing.
Early on, AT Internet recognized that it needed to go beyond simply collecting data for its clients; it needed to provide the analytics and reporting to help ensure the information was relevant and targeted to meet the needs of decision makers. To do this, it required an integrated platform supporting a robust relational database, analytic tools, and a reporting solution.
AT Internet created its Analyzer II solution using the Microsoft® Application Platform. The company, which created its original solution with earlier versions of Microsoft SQL Server®, recently upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise (64-bit) software to provide the relational database at the heart of the solution. The company stores more than 20 terabytes of data on a single instance of SQL Server 2008, which serves as a central repository for data generated by the Analyzer II solution monitoring of 350,000 Web sites.
||SQL Server 2008 makes it possible to work on the large [multi-terabyte] volumes we handle in real-time.
Chief Technical Officer, AT Internet
The company uses SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services for online analytical processing (OLAP), using Analysis Services to create multidimensional data cubes that contain pre-aggregated summaries to provide rapid answers to complex OLAP queries. AT Internet uses Analysis Services to create custom data cubes, using a subset of the 20 terabytes of Web traffic data, to meet the individual needs of its customers. The company can benefit from new features built into SQL Server 2008, including the streamlined Cube Designer, and enhanced Dimension and Aggregation Designers.
AT Internet delivers its solution using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model which enables its customers to gain all benefits of the company’s Online Intelligence offerings without having to deploy client software or supporting infrastructure. The company uses a multi-tier design that includes:
- Presentation Tier. Customers access the AT Internet’s SaaS solution using a browser, avoiding the need for downloading client-side applications. The presentation tier uses Microsoft Internet Information Services Web server technology.
- ETL Tier. AT Internet uses SQL Server 2008 Integration Services to perform extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes on data delivered from the Web through its data feeds.
- Database Tier. The more than 20 terabytes of data from monitoring traffic across some 350,000 Web sites is hosted on a single instance of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise running on the Windows Server® 2008 Enterprise for 64-Bit Systems operating system.
- Analytics Tier. AT Internet uses SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services to import relational data to create and manage multidimensional data cubes for faster processing. The company creates a separate data cube to support the analytical needs of each of its customers. Data is updated continuously to support real-time analytics.
- Application Tier. The company applies business logic from its applications to enhance functionality and to provide an easy to use interface for accessing analytics. The application was created using Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 and the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. The company uses Dundas Charts to create user-friendly dashboard displays of the data.
“SQL Server 2008 is robust and offers an excellent quality-to-price ratio,” says Sébastien Carriot, Chief Technical Officer at AT Internet. “SQL Server 2008 makes it possible to work on the large [multi-terabyte] volumes we handle in real-time.”
AT Internet has gained the analytical platform it sought by building its solution using the Microsoft Application Platform, including SQL Server 2008. The solution gives the company the ability to meet customer needs, while providing a robust and scalable solution and enterprise-grade performance. The company is also enjoying the ease of integration and administration that the Microsoft Application Platform provides, and is confident that its technology foundation gives the ability to meet future needs.
Ability to Meet Customer Needs
Building its solution on the Microsoft Application Platform has helped AT Internet achieve its goal of providing its customers with real-time reporting and analytics—Online Intelligence. The company’s Analyzer II solution helps customers stay current with real-time reports covering Internet user behavior—down to the individual user and page-level. The solution also enables AT Internet customers to analyze Internet user equipment, the effects of current events, a variety of search engine and browser barometers to gauge activity, and to obtain benchmark services, as well as precise surveys to meet specific customer needs.
“Our Analyzer II solution, built on the Microsoft Application Platform, gives us the analytical power we require to meet the exact needs of our customers,” says Carriot.
Robust and Scalable Solution
As AT Internet looked at the demands of handling the terabytes of data it collects from some 350,000 Web sites, it needed to build its solution using a platform that was robust and scalable, which is what it found using SQL Server 2008 and the rest of the Microsoft Application Platform.
“Analyzer II was born from the need expressed by our customers to take advantage of ever more data to gain a more comprehensive view of their operations on the Web,” says Carriot. “To meet these needs with an SaaS model, we knew we needed to build on a platform that was robust and scalable. SQL Server 2008 gives us the robustness we require, and it can scale to meet our needs. It contributes to the power of our solutions.”
The enterprise-grade performance of SQL Server 2008 has impressed AT Internet, as its solution analyzes more than 25 billion Web pages per month. “Our solutions are conceived to operate in real-time,” says Carriot. “On the Web it is necessary to be very reactive. One launches the first part of a campaign; within 20 minutes one obtains the first returns; analyzes them and adapts the campaign in response to the results to continually improve the campaign. Supporting all of this in real-time, with terabytes of data requires a superb platform, which is what we have with SQL Server 2008 and the Windows Server operating system.”
||Without any doubt the simplicity of working with the Microsoft Application Platform played an important role in our choice.
Chief Technology Officer, AT Internet
As AT Internet grew, it needed an enterprise-grade database solution to keep up with the escalating needs of its customers. “The Microsoft Application Platform gives us a consistent and integrated solution, and we believed that SQL Server 2008 was the only database that was able to offer the response times we needed when working with such huge volumes of data.”
Ease of Integration and Administration
Data from the more than 350,000 Web sites monitored is brought into the central 20-terabyte database. “We use SQL Server 2008 Integration Services for ETL and create a generic base cube,” explains Carriot. “Then for each new customer deployment, we create a custom data cube with the types of data required by the customer to meet their specific needs.”
The SaaS delivery model also makes it easy to integrate and manage customer solutions. “Our solution is entirely conceived to operate according to the SaaS model,” says Carriot. “This means our solutions do not require any deployment at the customer side. They simply access their data with their browser, connecting to an interface we created using Visual Studio and the .NET Framework.”
This same ease of integration makes it easy for the company to expand its offerings. Carriot notes, “Building our solution with the Microsoft Application Platform enabled us to achieve perfect integration with our existing applications.”
Ability to Meet Future Needs
The efficiency with which AT Internet has been able to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 and integrate new offerings with the platform makes it confident about its ability to meet the future needs of its customers.
“We appreciate the simplicity and capacity with which we can evolve our solution to continually meet the changing needs of our customers,” says Carriot. “Without any doubt the simplicity of working with the Microsoft Application Platform played an important role in our choice. It frequently seems that Microsoft precedes our requirements and our questions by proposing solutions in perfect harmony with our technological approach.”
In summary, AT Internet has gained the robust, enterprise-grade performance it requires for generating analytics on 20 terabytes of data from more than 350,000 Web sites by building its Analyzer II solution using the Microsoft Application Platform, including SQL Server 2008 Enterprise for its relational database and SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services for creating and managing multidimensional data cubes.
Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008
Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 provide a secure and trusted foundation for creating and running your most demanding applications. Combined, the products offer advanced security technology, developer support for the latest platforms, improved management and Web tools, flexible virtualization technology to optimize your infrastructure, and access to relevant information throughout your organization.
For more information about Windows Server 2008, go to: www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008
For more information about SQL Server 2008, go to: www.microsoft.com/sql/2008/default.mspx
For more information about Visual Studio 2008, go to: www.microsoft.com/vstudio.
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 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. 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 AT Internet products and services, visit the Web site at: www.atinternet.com/en
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published May 2009