IBM Smarter Computing Acxiom transforms marketing services with the help of IBM Acxiom Corporation is a recognized leader in marketing services and Overview technology that enable marketers to successfully manage audiences, personalize consumer experiences and create profitable customer The need relationships. The company has amassed a 12.2 petabyte database—one Facing continued growth and an already massive IT infrastructure, Acxiom needed of the world’s largest Oracle instances—that houses information on 500 to find a smarter way to grow their million customers globally. With this consumer insight, Acxiom is able services—without growing the data to help their customers dramatically improve marketing results by center. enabling them to engage the right audiences at the right time with The solution relevant messages. Acxiom created a cloud computing environment based on the “Our customers are some of the largest and most influential brand high-performance IBM® eX5 enterprise portfolio, deploying new and existing names in the world,” says David Guzmán, senior vice president and customer environments on the IBM chief information officer for Acxiom. “With this consumer multi- System x® 3850 X5 platform. dimensional insight, Acxiom helps our customers to filter out the false The benefit signals of single-dimensional views, leading to higher-performing The IBM eX5 solution delivers 5 times the alternatives that maximize customer value at every interaction.” performance at 15 times less cost, and has enabled Acxiom to scale services Operations of this scale require a massive IT infrastructure. To start dramatically without expanding the footprint of the data center. with, Acxiom has 23,500 servers running in a 250,000-square-foot data center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The majority of these servers are used to provide dedicated environments for many of the company’s 8,700 customers, and as such, they reflect the full range of IT platforms and technologies. But as the size and complexity of the Acxiom environment increased, the company realized that they couldn’t accommodate new growth by simply continuing to add servers. “We knew there had to be a better way—a smarter way of managing this amount of data and this amount of processing for our customers. We knew we had to transform,” says Guzmán.
IBM Smarter Computing Transformation you can measure Integrated Acxiom found the power to transform by creating a cloud computing • Seamlessly integrated a new environment based on the high-performance IBM eX5 enterprise high-performance server platform with portfolio. For the past year, Acxiom has been deploying new customer existing network, ESB, systems management, data warehouse, and environments on the IBM System x3850 X5 platform, and migrating virtualization technologies existing customer environments as they come up for refresh. Around • Implemented a cloud computing 100 eX5 servers have been deployed so far, with some customer environment as part of a dynamic and diverse IT infrastructure and workloads achieving virtualization ratios as high as 35:1. service-oriented architecture “The server numbers seem modest, but it’s a testament to the power of Automated the platform,” says Guzmán. “Ten eX5 platforms would be replacing • Automated notification to alert systems administrators to changes or potential 350 servers, and that’s significant.” system failures • Automated node failover to help But Guzmán has captured even more impressive numbers. While improve the availability of multi-node systems, ensuring high service levels enabling massive consolidation rates, the eX5 platform has delivered 5 times the performance of the previous dedicated servers—and at 15 Secured times less cost. In addition to these cost savings, the transformation has • Secured dedicated customer environments with segmentation, yielded a reduction in power requirements of more than a megawatt. firewall protection and data encryption And the reliability has been stellar, with no production issues since the • Implemented memory reliability solution went live. features to help maintain data integrity Transformed Seamless integration, strong security • Scaled the environment elegantly, Acxiom’s eX5 implementation is just one part of the company’s adding 2,700 new servers without expanding the data center footprint heterogeneous IT infrastructure, operating within the company’s IBM • Retained key customers and captured WebSphere®-based service-oriented architecture. Guzmán says the new business as a result of outstanding eX5 is an integral part of the environment, integrating seamlessly with cost/performance, rapid time to market, and high virtualization ratios the Cisco network, F5 load balancing and firewall, WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, data warehouse environments such as IBM InfoSphere™ DataStage® and Netezza, a systems management software suite, and a variety of virtualization technologies, including VMware. Standardizing on the eX5 for the cloud environment has provided a welcome reprieve from the longstanding diversity of the Acxiom data center—a natural result of meeting the unique needs of thousands of customers. “We were falling under the weight of the size and scale and variety of solutions that we have—and the variety of customers that we support as a service provider,” explains Guzmán. “And when we can take all that complexity and reduce it down so that we can provide simple, cost-effective, powerful solutions to our customers, that’s a compelling story for us.” 2
IBM Smarter Computing The eX5 provides a number of built-in features that help Acxiom Solution Components: deliver high levels of service to their customers. Continuous system monitoring triggers automated notifications that alert systems Software administrators to changes or potential system failures. And automatic • IBM® WebSphere® ESB • IBM InfoSphere™ DataStage® node failover helps improve the availability of multi-node systems. Hardware Protecting the data within those systems is critical. “Securing our data • IBM System x® 3850 X5 is job one,” says Guzmán. “That data is our customer’s gold.” Dedicated customer environments running on the eX5 platform are clearly segmented, highly secured, and firewall-protected. Data is encrypted in transit and at rest. The eX5’s memory reliability features also help maintain data integrity. The bottom-line benefits Acxiom has already tested the scalability of the environment, adding 2,700 servers in the past year. Prior to the cloud implementation, that would have surely meant expanding the data center—or building a new one. But with the eX5 solution in place, the new servers were absorbed without impact. Says Guzmán, “Despite the fact that our business is increasing and we’re deploying more resources with more processing power, we haven’t had to invest in new data center space. We’re able to do all that within the same footprint.” Not only is the cloud solution enabling powerful scalability, it has also dramatically improved Acxiom’s time to market, allowing the company to on-board new customers in a fraction of the time. “Each customer environment is different, but as an example, an implementation that previously would have taken three months would now take three weeks,” says Guzmán. “The fact that we’ve been able to get these platforms in and get them up and running in production very quickly has made the difference in our business.” It’s a difference that Acxiom has been able to use for competitive advantage, along with leveraging the platform’s high performance and reliability. “As a service provider, we believe we’ve won new business and retained key customers as a result of the factors that the IBM eX5 brings to the table,” says Guzmán. “Every time an existing customer comes up for a refresh, we bid this platform, and so far our success rate has been 100 percent.” 3