Atd article profit magazine (atd gets better insight and performance with smart data archiving)


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Historical Data Takes a Backseat (ATD gets better insight and performance with smart data archiving)

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Atd article profit magazine (atd gets better insight and performance with smart data archiving)

  1. 1. By Fred Sandsmark American Tire Distributors’ Tony Vaden, CIO, and Angelic Gibson, Director of IT Operations Historical Data Takes a Backseat ATD gets better insight and performance with smart data archiving. an a company have too much of a good thing? The inactive data, typically retained for regulatory reasons, takes answer was yes at American Tire Distributors (ATD), up valuable space in the databases that support enterprise IT, a fast-growing distributor of tires, custom wheels, service degrading the performance of enterprise applications. Olson equipment, and shop supplies based in Huntersville, North points out that inactive data has no intended business use, but Carolina. The good thing, in ATD’s case, was data. CIOs have little choice but to keep the data in the system. “You “We are a business that starves for information, especially in can see what’s happening here: we’re slowly grinding these sales where we’re trying to look at projections for growth and databases to a halt,” says Olson. how we properly position ourselves for the future,” says Tony That was certainly so at ATD, where performance issues Vaden, CIO at ATD. “We have a huge amount of data that we made business applications less effective than bald tires on need to turn into information, and that’s where the struggle is.” a rainy street. In 2010 ATD IT staff began using database ATD’s challenge—too much data yielding not enough archiving to pare down years of data into a useful, manageable information—is common, according to Jack Olson, author of pool while still retaining required records. The archiving project, Database Archiving: How to Keep Lots of Data for a Very Long which leveraged Oracle partner Solix’ Enterprise DatabaseScott Crowder Time (Morgan Kaufmann, 2008) and CEO of data archiving Archiving (part of the Solix Enterprise Data Management Suite, consultancy SvalTech. Olson reports that studies show that 70 was coupled with a hardware refresh. Together, archiving and percent of the data in operational databases is inactive. That updated hardware improved performance of ATD’s Oracle pro f i t : t h e e x e c u t i v e ’s g u i d e to o ra cl e a p p l ic a t i on s  45
  2. 2. E-Business Suite implementation, >>SNAPSHOT ARCHIVING SHIFTS INTO HIGH GEARmade application development and American Tire Distributors (ATD) The size of ATD’s database also atd-us.comtesting and disaster recovery opera- threatened to stall a planned hard- Location: Huntersville, North Carolinations easier, and paved the way for Industry: Tire wholesaler/distributor ware upgrade. ATD executivesfuture IT initiatives. Employees: 2,300 wanted to upgrade old UNIX-based Customers: 71,000 servers to newer hardware runningWORKING AROUND THE SYSTEM Annual delivery miles: 28 million Linux. “The first time we did ourATD’s data growth was driven by Oracle products: Oracle E-Business Suite 11i, trial run, it took more than sevenseveral factors. First, the company Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g, Oracle days to migrate,” Gibson recalls. Database 11ghas expanded rapidly through “That was pretty daunting.” That Partner products: Solix Enterprise Databaseacquisitions. ATD was #13 on Inc. Archiving, part of the Solix Enterprise Data time frame was shaved down to 60Magazine’s 2009 list of fastest-growing Management Suite hours with some additional effort,private companies in America as but that was still too long for ATD toranked by revenue; its 2008 revenue be out of operation.of US$2 billion was up 30.3 percent over three years. So ATD tapped the brakes on the hardware upgrade and The sheer number of products that ATD distributes was a shifted gears to its database archiving project. Though archivingsecond contributor to the data growth. The company’s catalog was initially intended to improve application performance,contains approximately 40,000 SKUs, ranging from tires and Gibson realized that a smaller database would speed up migra-wheels for a variety of vehicles to electronic tire pressure tion to the new hardware. “Definitely the driver to get [archiving]sensors and specialized tools. Many of these products are rela- done more quickly was our hardware refresh,” she recalls.tively new offerings for ATD, added to the company’s catalog in ATD selected archiving technology from Oracle partner andrecent years as cars have grown more sophisticated. independent software vendor Solix Technologies after evaluat- A third factor was the expansion of ATD’s Oracle E-Business ing three different products. Vaden liked Solix’ established part-Suite environment, which launched in 2005. “Oracle nership with Oracle and its products’ validated integration withE-Business Suite is our core,” Vaden says. “A lot of our pro- Oracle E-Business Suite.cesses are built around the Oracle product suite.” “Long-term support was critical to us,” adds Gibson. “We The dozen Oracle E-Business Suite modules ATD cur- felt like Solix wasn’t a company that was going to disappearrently runs have been phased in over several years, and ATD’s from the marketplace. We got to meet their support team andOracle applications environment continues to grow in size got a very good understanding of how their support cycleand complexity. The next planned milestone is a staged rollout works. We also had confidence that they would meet our needsof Oracle Warehouse Management to ATD’s 85 distribution for customization.”centers across the U.S. When this move is complete at the end Solix’ technological underpinnings also appealed to theof 2011, ATD’s Oracle user base will have quadrupled from ATD team. “We were comfortable with their approach toward600 users to 2,500. archiving,” Gibson says. “There are many different technologi- With so many changes, maintaining application perfor- cal ways of archiving in an Oracle E-Business Suite environ-mance has become difficult. “You start off at 300 GB, and your ment. We much preferred Solix’ approach, using the logic thatdatabase keeps growing year after year,” recalls Angelic Gibson, Oracle has built into their application and certified.”ATD’s director of IT operations. “We got to a point where we Raghu Kodali, Solix vice president of product managementwere constantly tuning SQL, just struggling with the volume of and strategy, says Solix’ Oracle Validated Integration and flex-data in our primary tables.” At its peak, ATD’s Oracle environ- ible archiving technology appeal to many customers. “Ourment consumed 3 TB of storage. approach allows customers to use Oracle E-Business Suite– Data growth caused ripple effects throughout the company. provided routines, custom-built rules, or a combination ofComplete backups took 20 hours. Oracle Recovery Manager both,” he explains. “This helps customers like ATD archive theclones took as long as four days. Nightly batch processes were right set of transactional business objects based on user-definedencroaching on the workday. (An extreme example: when one business rules.”ATD customer acquired another, merging the two companies’ With help from a Solix team, ATD first ran the archive in itsinventory data could take seven hours.) development environment. “We worked out the kinks there, When overnight processes extended into the next business and then we went through full user acceptance testing,” Gibsonday, employee productivity suffered. Employees at ATD’s Field recalls. Business users signed on and verified that the data wasSupport Services office were sometimes forced to wait until present and viewable in the archive according to the users’ spe-as late as 11 a.m. to start work. Delivery route planning was cific responsibilities as established in Oracle E-Business Suite.delayed, which affected customer satisfaction. In some cases, Solix’ Kodali says that the product extends the Oracledaily processing was being held over until weekends. “We were E-Business Suite responsibilities framework so the privilegesreally starting to make the business work around the system,” associated with users’ Oracle E-Business Suite logins can beGibson says. “That’s where it became problematic.” used to access data in the Solix archive. This simplifies security46  N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 0
  3. 3. and eliminates the need for users to learn an additional tool. it now runs in one minute. As each Oracle E-Business Suite module’s archive was The smaller operational database also paves the way forapproved and documented, it was migrated into produc- future IT initiatives. ATD is migrating some of its modulestion. General ledger, accounts receivable, inventory, and to Oracle E-Business Suite 12, and in 2012 executives planpricing modules were moved over the course of three months, to adopt Oracle Fusion Middleware. Vaden says databasefrom January to March 2010. Archiving those four modules archiving will make those transitions easier. “The more stream-decreased the size of the Oracle E-Business Suite database by lined our current products are, the better our ability to make25 percent, Gibson says, and when the accounts payable, pur- decisions about them,” he says. “From my perspective, thischasing, and costing modules are complete—later this year— helps put us on the right path for upgrades.”the database will be 40 percent smaller. Vaden also notes that disaster recovery at ATD works better With this database reduction in place, ATD returned to with a smaller database. “I hope we’ll never need to recoverits hardware refresh, completing it in September 2010. The from a failure or a disaster,” he says, “but when we’re setting asmaller database migrated to the new platform in about 40 recovery point objective and a recovery time objective, the lesshours. “Had we not archived, we would have to be completely data we have to recover, the faster we’re back in production.”down for more than 60 hours,” Gibson says. “That’s a loss of Having a smaller database also helps with new applica-business for us. Solix was a huge success factor in our ability to tion development. “We’re constantly in a development cycle,”migrate over a weekend.” Gibson explains. “We’re developing and pushing code quickly, so we need to have fresh data in our testing and developmentBENEFITS DOWN THE ROAD instances. When it takes four days to do a clone, it’s impracticalATD got an expected performance boost in Oracle E-Business to meet the demands the business puts on us. So by decreasingSuite from database archiving. “We see a 50 to 60 percent the time in a cloning scenario—we’re down to about a day andperformance improvement in our nightly batch process- a half now—we can get clones done on the weekend.”ing, with no SQL tuning at all,” Gibson says. “It’s huge.”Revisiting one extreme example: the seven hours of process- SET FOR THE LONG HAULing formerly required to merge two customers’ inventory Database archiving has also helped ATD move toward a lifecycledata was reduced to one hour, and with further SQL tuning management approach to data, meaning that the company Establishing Retention Policies E very organization that deploys database archiving needs to estab- lish two data retention policies: how to collect in the production database. It works like this: Archiving of data from two years prior is done at the one of the reasons we went with Solix,” Gibson says. “Solix allows us to view the data through one single system, as long (or how much) data will be kept end of January, after the close of the opposed to our users having to pull it in the active database, and how long company’s fiscal year. (For example, up somewhere else.” archived data will be retained before it data from calendar year 2008 was Raghu Kodali, vice president of is deleted altogether. archived beginning in February 2010.) product management and strategy at American Tire Distributors (ATD) The archiving and purging process, Solix, says ATD’s three-tier arrange- initially established different lengths which happens during evening and ment is typical for Solix users. “As the of time for active data in each of its weekend maintenance windows, takes data ages out of active archive, it can Oracle E-Business Suite modules, but about eight weeks and removes a be moved into a highly compressed this proved impractical. “A lot of our terabyte of data; when it is complete, and immutable mode,” he explains. users have to go between modules 15 months worth of data remains in “Even then, it can still be searched, when they do their analyses,” explains the active production database. reported, and audited, and can only Angelic Gibson, ATD’s director of IT The next annual archive, in February be deleted when the retention period operations. “They would find two 2011, will remove data from calendar expires. This helps customers mitigate years’ worth of data in one module year 2009. Gibson notes that, because risk from a compliance point of view.” but only nine months in another. They of upgraded hardware, the archiving Some companies will need to keep were getting really confused.” process will probably take four weeks their archived data much longer than So ATD established that a minimum instead of eight. ATD does, says Jack Olson, author of of 13 months of historical data would Data will spend seven years in ATD’s Database Archiving (Morgan Kaufmann, be kept active for all modules. But archive and then be removed to a disk- 2008). “It varies by application, by because archiving is done annually based backup system. While it’s in the industry, and by country,” he explains. rather than on an ongoing basis, as archive, that data remains available to “You need to find all [that apply to you], much as 24 months of data is allowed business users who need it. “That’s and then pick the longest line.” pro f i t : t h e e x e c u t i v e ’s g u i d e to o ra cl e a p p l ic a t i on s  47
  4. 4. Oracle E-Business Suite: Moving Up L ike thousands of organizations worldwide, American Tire Distribu- tors (ATD) has built its business prac- and master data management mod- ules. Enhancements in Oracle E- Business Suite 12.1 include support attachments, look-ahead searching, and the ability to embed rich content such as business intelligence reports tices around Oracle E-Business Suite. for high-volume warehouse operations, and dashboards. And like many Oracle E-Business Suite including demand-based forward pick “We continue to add new function- customers, ATD is taking advantage of replenishment; sourcing enhancements ality to Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 significant new features and functional- to streamline sourcing processes, on a regular basis through easy-to- ity by upgrading to Oracle E-Business enforce compliance, reduce risk, and consume release update packs,” says Suite 12. achieve savings; and the ability to view Ognjen Pavlovic, vice president of Oracle E-Business Suite 12, first fully loaded estimated costs (includ- Oracle E-Business Suite product available in January 2007, included ing transportation, duties, and taxes) strategy. “Oracle E-Business Suite architectural improvements to Oracle across the complete supply chain using 12.1.3, available in August 2010, com- Financials to support global and Oracle Landed Cost Management. bines statutory and regulatory updates shared-service operations, improve Organizations with field service with other enhancements across all operational efficiencies, and reduce operations can leverage improved dis- product areas.” risk. Specifically, it introduced a new patch center operations, more- Pavlovic notes that Oracle E- centralized architecture that standard- effective scheduling of technicians, Business Suite 11i Release 11.5.10, izes and simplifies the financial infra- and streamlined service request the terminal release of Oracle E- structure across an entire enterprise. creation and management in Oracle Business Suite 11i, will transition from Its subledger accounting, ledgers, E-Business Suite 12.1. Supply, Premier Support to Extended Support and ledger sets ensure adherence to demand, and design chains were in November 2010. After three years in a single set of accounting rules across optimized with the new value chain Extended Support, Oracle E-Business an enterprise while supporting faster, planning capabilities in Oracle’s sup- Suite 11i Release 11.5.10 will enter simpler period-end closings. ply chain management solutions, and Sustaining Support. Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1, deduplication and merging were added “If you are still on Oracle E-Business released in May 2009, enhanced other to Oracle’s master data management Suite 11i, Oracle recommends that you areas including the human resources, solutions. Usability was improved plan and execute your Oracle E- projects, service management, pro- across the board, with mouse-over Business Suite 12.1 upgrade within the curement, supply chain management, and pop-up selection, inline editing of support window,” Pavlovic able to exercise more control over data’s creation, storage, base archiving,” Olson says.and deletion. “Going through that lifecycle—from production He adds that database archiving vendors are steadilyto archiving to elimination—is definitely what we’re putting improving their products, although none is perfect yet. “I thinktogether as a long-term strategy,” Vaden says. the best choice is to pick a vendor whose solution is closest Such long-term thinking is important, Olson says, because to the problem you have, and then work with that vendor tothe problem of data growth is only going to get worse. “Say make up the difference,” Olson advises. “If you do that today,you’re keeping data for seven years, and one day the govern- you’ll help the vendor get to the better product faster.”ment says you have to keep that data for 25 years,” Olson Which is exactly the route that ATD chose. “I’m confidentexplains. “From that point forward, for the next 18 years, you that we picked the right product and have the right solutionwill never throw a single record away. It’s all growth.” for our customers,” Vaden says. That’s just the right amount of While such data growth is a common motivator for database a good thing. <>archiving, Olson says that the technology has less-obvious usesas well. “There is no doubt that database archiving came about FRED SANDSMARK is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and a regularbecause of operational performance problems of overloaded contributor to Profit.databases,” he says. “But people are discovering a lot of othermotivators, and they’re using it in places where they don’t havea data glut problem.” Those places include “retiring” inactive applications (thus >> For more informationeliminating expensive legacy hardware), maintaining real-time Oracle E-Business Suite of financial transactions for regulatory purposes, Solix Enterprise Data Management Solutionsand easing mergers and acquisitions. “Good technologies tend solix.comto find new uses, and this is definitely happening with data-48  N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 0