Faster Business Intelligence: Acosta Case Study


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Acosta boosts productivity by 50% in loading data, business intelligence analysis, and processing data loads with Dell PowerEdge servers..

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Faster Business Intelligence: Acosta Case Study

  1. 1. SoLUTIoNS • BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND DATA WAREHoUSING • POWER & COOLING FASTER BUSINESS CUSTomER PRoFILE CoUNTRY: United States INDUSTRY: Consumer packaged INTELLIGENCE goods FoUNDED: 1927 NUmBER oF EmPLoYEES: 13,000 WEB ADDRESS: Acosta boosts productivity by 50% in loading data, business CHALLENGE Acosta needed to improve intelligence analysis, and processing data loads with Dell database processing and PowerEdge servers response time to its 13,000 employees and 500 client users. SoLUTIoN The company found that it could purchase Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers for one-tenth the cost of what it had paid for its legacy HP Superdome server and reduce licensing, maintenance and administration costs. Microsoft hosted Acosta’s SQL Server 2008 data warehouse at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center to test its performance on Dell servers, averting the risk of migrating both hardware and software at once. BENEFITS RUN IT BETTER • 50% faster data loads • Able to meet service level agreements for data warehouse availability • 50% faster reports • 50% faster data processing • 20%-50% faster query processing • Lower licensing costs GRoW IT SmARTER • Twice as much processing power for one-tenth the cost of HP Superdome • 50% reduction of data volume, enabling company to scale database • 30-40% reduction in power consumption compared to Superdome
  2. 2. Planning to buy a new soup that you saw advertised? Don’t be surprised to find it front and center on your grocer’s shelf on your next shopping trip. It’s no accident. Food manufacturers have marketing agents whose job it is to make sure that their clients’ products get maximum exposure on the supermarket shelf, and into shoppers’ baskets. “oUR GAINS IN DATA PRoCESSING PERFoRmANCE ComE FRom THE DELL SERvERS. TWENTY- FoUR CoRES CAN PRoCESS THE SAmE AmoUNT oF DATA IN HALF THE TImE ComPARED To THE SUPERDomE.” Dennis Thompson, director of enterprise information, Acosta Acosta Sales and Marketing Company, syndicated Nielsen data showing sales HoW IT WoRkS headquartered in Jacksonville, results for every product from all of its Florida, is one of the largest sales clients. The company loads 500 million HARDWARE and marketing agencies in the United of these records per month and uses • Dell™ PowerEdge™ R900 servers States and Canada, serving consumer this data to report to clients on how with Intel® Xeon® 7400 series packaged goods (CPG) companies. their products have performed against processors Acosta has 13,000 associates the competition. across North America, a third of SoFTWARE whom are merchandisers who visit oNE-TENTH THE CoST, TWICE • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 more than 100,000 supermarkets, THE PoWER • Microsoft Windows Server® 2008 mass merchandisers, club stores, Until recently, the Microsoft SQL • Microsoft Windows Server Active convenience stores, military Server 2005 data warehouse ran Directory® commissaries and exchanges, and on an HP Superdome server with 12 • Microsoft Office SharePoint® drug stores. They work with store processors. “We needed to upgrade Server personnel to ensure that Acosta clients’ the server to handle more data, and we products stand out on the shelf. When found that upgrading the Superdome SERvICES a product is in the wrong location, has would cost 25 percent more than • Dell ProSupport Services insufficient space, or is not on the shelf replacing the entire environment at all, Acosta merchandisers remedy with Dell PowerEdge hardware,” the situation. says Mark Chaffin, CIO of Acosta. “A Dell PowerEdge R900 server costs Acosta’s extensive business intelligence significantly less than what Acosta operations depend on its data paid for the HP Superdome and has warehouse with two terabytes of considerably more power.” data. The data warehouse enables the company to direct its 4,500 retail Getting out from under the Superdome coverage merchandisers to find the also meant leaving behind high products that are likely to be out-of- maintenance and administration stock, and report to clients on what it costs. Dell is the standard platform for has done to maximize opportunities Acosta’s Web servers, its application for sales. In addition, the agency loads servers that run Microsoft Office
  3. 3. “WITH THE PoWEREDGE R900 AND THE DATA ComPRESSIoN WE GET FRom SQL SERvER, WE’RE LookING AT ADDING THREE To FoUR TERABYTES PER YEAR FoR THE NExT YEAR oR TWo AND WE’LL STILL HAvE FAST PERFoRmANCE.” Mark Chaffin, CIO, Acosta SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and “We had access to three Microsoft Dell servers, we can generate reports Microsoft Active Directory, as well engineers and two outside consultants 50 percent faster,” says West. as for desktops and laptops. Current to help us improve the performance models in use at Acosta include Dell of the database,” says West. “But 20-50% FASTER QUERY OptiPlex™ 960 desktop with Intel Core™ from day one, when we installed PRoCESSING 2 processors and Dell Latitude E6400 our database and packages on the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis laptops with Intel Core 2 processors. Dell servers, we saw a 50 percent Services provide an online analytical performance increase without touching processing (OLAP) engine for making “Proprietary servers may be okay the code at all.” ad hoc queries using multidimensional for those who have the money and data cubes. The performance of the patience, but we choose to be Acosta has a four-hour window for those queries on the Superdome was more competitive and spend our loading data each night, and prior to frustratingly slow. resources on a broad set of strategic migrating to SQL Server 2008 and initiatives and goals instead of closed, Dell PowerEdge servers, the loading The improvements in Microsoft SQL proprietary hardware and software. process took the full four hours. With Server 2008 on Dell PowerEdge R900 Also, the Intel Xeon 7400 series the new SQL Server 2008 database servers are having an immediate impact processors are more scalable and software and the Dell Xeon powered on users, according to Thompson, stable than the Itanium® architecture servers, it takes two hours. Loading particularly because of query we were using,” says Chaffin. is performed by Microsoft SQL Server performance. “Our users include 500 Integration Services. The improvements CPG company users as well as 4,000 50% FASTER DATA LoADS in its performance are making Acosta of our own associates,” he says. “Their Acosta migrated to multiple Dell employees more productive. queries are running at least 20-to-50 PowerEdge R900 servers at the same percent faster. A query that took a time it upgraded from Microsoft SQL “We have a service-level agreement minute to process now takes 40 or Server 2005 to 2008. To mitigate the (SLA) to be up from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for 30 seconds. The CPG companies we risk of porting both hardware and our associates,” says West. “But with serve are more productive, and that’s software at the same time, Acosta SQL Server 2005 on the HP Superdome, something they can appreciate.” sent Dennis Thompson, director of a couple of times a week we were not enterprise information, and Steve up by 8 a.m. Now those problems are 50% FASTER BACkUPS AND West, data warehouse developer, to gone, and we can meet our SLAs.” PRoCESSING PERFoRmANCE the Microsoft Technology Center in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 improved Atlanta for three weeks of testing the Acosta uses Microsoft SQL Server data and backup compression. “Our data warehouse on Dell PowerEdge Reporting Services to generate its database used to be four terabytes, but R900 servers running Microsoft SQL mission-critical reports to its associates now it’s less than two terabytes,” says Server 2008. and clients. “With SQL Server 2008 on Thompson. “Our maintenance window
  4. 4. for backups was four hours, but with Competition is intense among sales and Dell PowerEdge 900 servers we’re marketing agencies. Acosta stays ahead doing the database backups in two of its competitors by making smart hours.” Uncompressed data has to be choices about business intelligence and read off the disk. Compressed data is the software and hardware that support uncompressed on the processor, which it. Thompson states, “SQL Server and is much faster than the disk drives. Dell platforms will help us continue to stay ahead over the next few years.” “With the R900 and the data compression we get from SQL Server, SAvING WITH vIRTUALIZATIoN we can plan to have more data,” Acosta has also recently moved its says Chaffin. “We’re looking at adding Virtual Environment to five Dell R900’s three to four terabytes per year for with four Intel Xeon X7350 processors. the next year or two and we’ll still have They utilize VMware ESX 3.5 with NFS fast performance.” as its storage protocol. Currently they have 154 virtual machines hosted on LoWER LICENSING AND the five R900 hosts, which equates PoWER CoSTS to over 30 Virtual Machines per host. The Dell R900 has four CPU sockets The applications hosted on VMware and each socket is populated with an range anywhere from IIS Web Servers Intel Xeon six-core processor. With to SQL databases and even their entire the Microsoft SQL Server licensing production Citrix Farm is hosted on policy, customers are charged by the this environment. Even with all these socket instead of the CPU core. This machines utilization for their ESX farm can result in software cost savings stays consistently around 25-35%. since customers only purchase four SQL “Originally when we designed this Software licenses per server. “But those environment we said at 50 servers four physical processors are doing the we should break even on our initial work of 24 processors, so everything investment. We are now at 154 is faster,” says Thompson. “Our gains virtual machines and believe 200 is in data load processing performance an attainable goal thanks to the come from the Dell servers. Twenty- R900’s,” concludes Craig Tilden, four cores, which the operating system technology engineering and delivery sees as 24 processors, can process the manager, Acosta. same amount of data in half the time compared to the Superdome.” To read additional case studies, go to: DELL.Com/casestudies Acosta is also excited about the power savings that have resulted from its migration from HP Superdome to the Dell PowerEdge R900. “The HP Superdome is a very large server,” says Thompson. “It consumes quite a bit of electric power, whereas the Dell R900 servers consumer 30-40 percent less power than the Superdome.” SIMPLIFy yOUR TOTAL SOLUTION AT DELL.COM/Simplify August 2009 Intel, Intel Xeon and Itanium are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States or other countries. Active Directory, Microsoft, SharePoint, SQL Server and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. This case study is for informational purposes only. DELL MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS CASE STUDY.