REVIEWER: Eric Williams, chief information officer for Catalina Marketing.
BACKGROUND: Catalina Marketing, the global leader in behavior-based marketing solutions, provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the ability to execute targeted marketing programs specific to their customer base. These programs use shopper buying behaviors without compromising any personally identifiable information and deliver incentives and messages via printers located at the point of sale. Our goal is to be the world's most innovative marketing solutions provider across many industries.

PLATFORMS: We currently have a Netezza installation comprised of the NPS 8000 and 10000 series data warehouse appliances.

PROBLEM SOLVED: To accomplish our future goals, we needed a way to quickly collect and query hundreds of billions of market-basket records from more than 23,000 retail locations across the United States. Our previous legacy data warehouse environment was not able to keep up with the pace of data volumes and analytic requirements. Routinely, users were unable to run many queries that would provide needed purchasing behavior information at consumer, product and transaction levels. We turned to Netezza's data warehouse appliance to speed analyses and clear up the IT bottleneck.

The NPS system is used to store the records of more than 140 million shopper households and make this information actionable. This gives our customers insight into a large number of shoppers, allowing them to make the best marketing and promotion decisions to increase sales and consumer loyalty.

STRENGTHS: Using the system built on Netezza's technologies, we're able to quickly analyze more than 400 billion market-basket records on a deeper level than was previously possible. Compared to our previous system, the NPS data warehouse appliance is able to run 70 times more queries on five times the data, allowing for increased efficiency and flexibility. Additionally, we were able to reduce our primary database storage space by almost 80TB after the migration to the NPS system, due to the elimination of all aggregate tables and indices. This reduction in storage also decreased our corresponding data center footprint.

WEAKNESSES: While we are very happy with the overall performance of the Netezza system, we would like to see Netezza allow administrators more control in managing workloads. The aggregate performance beats all other systems hands down, even at the data volumes we process at Catalina. It's when the number of concurrent users spike that we see less predictable query times. Our power users can throw massive queries on the system, which tends to impact other users also. Ideally, we want to be able to better allocate query resources among different groups of users such that we can better guarantee response times, even under large active user workloads.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Facing a significant IT bottleneck on our legacy data warehouse system, we needed to decide whether to stay with our current environment, migrate our database to another traditional data warehouse option, or start fresh with Netezza's data warehouse appliance. In order to stay with our previous system, we would have had to modify the existing queries, try to tune the system around them but risk negative side effects on other queries, or simply give up and kill the queries.  Placing such limitations on our users and diminishing the insights we could provide to our customers simply wasn't an option, however. After very careful consideration, we opted for Netezza's NPS data warehouse appliance, which it deployed in just a couple of months.

DELIVERABLES: The NPS system gives Catalina Marketing and our customers near real-time access to more than 400 billion market basket records, allowing us to give truly detailed insights into consumer behavior. This new database enables us to conduct cross-store chain queries. We can now offer our CPG customers nationwide sales data on their products at a transaction level, a service we had not been able to offer our customers using our previous data warehouse system. Our customers now have access to this wealth of consumer information, aiding them in their marketing and customer loyalty programs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Netezza is always extremely responsive to any issues that we might have and has been a very good partner to Catalina.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for the NPS data warehouse appliance is easy to understand and follow. You could run the product by relying on the documentation itself.

NPS data warehouse appliance

Netezza Corporation

26 Forest Street

Marlborough, MA 01752

(508) 382-8200


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