REVIEWER: Jonathan Levine, co-president, LinkShare.


BACKGROUND: Founded in 1996 and headquartered in New York City, LinkShare pioneered the concept of online affiliate marketing. We provide e-commerce businesses with a vast, high quality pay-per-action marketing network for acquiring new customers, increasing revenues and driving results. We track e-commerce transactions over the Web, and then we provide data-centric tools for the publishers to build and attract customers. We also provide data to our publishers and our advertisers to help optimize their online strategies. In addition to the technology platform, we have managed services to help both our publishers and advertisers build their online media campaigns.


PLATFORMS: Leveraging commodity x86 hardware and Red Hat’s Linux distribution, LinkShare created a grid architecture comprising IBM DB2 Universal Database v9.1 ESE Partition Edition (EEE) on Suse Linux 9 to underpin its enterprise data warehouse and operational data store, and Informatica PowerCenter v8.6 to power its data integration. An IBM eServer Cluster1350 environment includes an eServer 3650 64-bit x 18-node cluster hosting IBM DB2 v9.1 UDB; an eServer 3650 64-bit x 6-node cluster and an eServer 3650 64-bit x 4-node cluster hosting Informatica PowerCenter.


PROBLEM SOLVED: As information is LinkShare’s stock in trade, data integration is a business-critical process for us. We’ve used Informatica PowerCenter as our data integration platform since 2000 to help deliver detailed intelligence to merchants and affiliates, providing them with visibility and real-time insights into the success of their marketing programs down to the transaction level. Over time, our marketing network and the data volumes it generates have grown enormously in size. We now aggregate data across more than 500 sources and process more than 400 million aggregate transactions a day. To continue to keep pace, we migrated our entire production environment in mid-2008 PowerCenter 8.6 with the Enterprise Grid option for advanced grid computing support. The elevated levels of performance, scalability and reliability we realized from this move are paying immense dividends. We now have a highly extensible foundation for new business and new data-driven services, where we’re able to more efficiently manage an increasingly diverse data integration environment and we can move more quickly to meet emerging data demands. We’re ensuring our ongoing success with massive throughput and high availability, all implemented in an extremely cost-effective manner. Had we not made this move, we simply couldn’t be as successful, competitive and responsive a business as we currently are. Additionally, we wanted to provide holistic, timely data to our partners to enable them to continually optimize their programs and media campaigns, as well as provide them with tools for building out their own businesses and operational efficiencies. PowerCenter’s Data Services capabilities provided a standardized format for integrating our data with not only our customers but with our third-party vendors. The Informatica Data Services technology enables us to do rapid development and easily convert some of our existing feeds into Data Services, giving us the ability to build out modular services and take that modular data centric approach to an SOA architecture.


PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: PowerCenter 8.6 is a unified enterprise-class platform for high performance data integration and delivery across virtually any data source and target. What attracted us to PowerCenter 8.6 is its breakthrough functionality in the areas of grid computing, parallel performance, high availability, real-time data integration and scalable standards-based data services. With its enhanced grid computing support, we went from a single 8-node cluster for data integration processing to two clusters – one 6-node and one 4-node – located in separate data centers. This gives us redundancy with automated failover and the ability to separate online transaction processing and online analytical processing data integration loads on different clusters for performance. We’re also using PowerCenter 8.6’s automated load balancing, dynamic and source partitioning, and session on-grid features to optimize parallel performance and throughput. As a result we’re able to handle huge volumes of concurrent complex tasks to meet the stringent SLAs we’ve established with our network of merchants and affiliates. Other important functionality we’re taking advantage of includes PowerCenter’s robust data services support and change data capture capabilities, whereby we can quickly roll out new, cost-effective and competitive data-driven services, such as economically delivering raw transactional data to our customers so they can do their own analyses.


STRENGTHS: PowerCenter 8.6’s strengths include cost-effective scalability and availability and massive throughput for data integration services in a grid environment, coupled with universal data integration capabilities and fast, easy codeless development and extensive usability for quickly on-boarding customers launching new data-centric feeds as data services, and meeting new demands for integrated data.


WEAKNESSES: PowerCenter 8.1 had a minor issue around the scalability of the data services hub for very specific usage scenarios. However, with PowerCenter 8.6, this issue has been resolved.


SELECTION CRITERIA: PowerCenter 8.6 was selected for real-time data processing, superior scalability on the grid through native clustering, and also for its superb parallel performance, high availability with automated failover, and ease of development and administration scalable data services.


DELIVERABLES: PowerCenter 8.6 provides a mission-critical platform for LinkShare’s most important day-to-day business operations - aggregating and delivering timely business intelligence and data services to an immense network of constituents - while also providing a scalable, resilient infrastructure for future growth.


VENDOR SUPPORT: Informatica has delivered excellent support over the past eight years and has consistently delivered on its product vision.


DOCUMENTATION: Comprehensive and easy-to-understand documentation is available online.


PowerCenter 8.6

Informatica Corporation

100 Cardinal Way
Redwood City, CA 94063

(650) 385-5000

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