REVIEWER: Valeriy Lazaruk, deputy head of IDWH, IT Systems Support Division, Raiffeisen Bank Aval.

BACKGROUND: As one of the leading banks in Ukraine, Raiffeisen Bank Aval provides a wide range of standard and innovative banking services through its nationwide network. Established in 1992 as Joint Stock Postal Pension Bank Aval, in 2005 it became part of Raiffeisen Bank International. The bank's network comprises 934 branches located in large cities, provincial and community centers and villages throughout Ukraine.

PLATFORMS: Sybase IQ v.15 on IBM System p with IBM AIX

PROBLEM SOLVED: In 1998, the bank’s IT team was tasked to consolidate information from disparate operating systems in order to enable consolidated financial reporting. In those days, solving such problems did not require specialized software. Instead, the first data warehouse at the bank was based on a traditional database, Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE). As the bank has evolved, requirements have become more complex with the need for business process analysis and optimization. Ultimately the bank needed to speed up the generation of executive and management reports, and the architecture of the existing system did not allow access to data sources other than daily transactional data. The old development strategy of growing material and human resources while keeping the technical base the same would no longer meet the bank’s requirements. At the same time, the existing data warehouse had to continue to perform functions that were already successfully implemented.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Sybase IQ Analytics server software provides business intelligence through a column-based architecture tool for data warehousing and mining. With the new Sybase IQ data warehouse, the data from the previous day is loaded into the system via an ETL tool. There the data is processed - structured, denormalized, consolidated, etc. - in order to create reports and data marts. Database storage is currently greater than 4 terabytes, and more than 300 users access the information daily to develop intra-day reports. The new data warehouse not only improves query performance, which is now up to a hundred times faster, it also allows for the creation of radically different reports that were impossible to generate in the previous system.

STRENGTHS: Historically, the bank suffered from sluggish reporting response times due to lack of access to comprehensive historical data and labor-consuming report creation. Sybase IQ proved itself with excellent performance when tasked with complex reporting, which aggregated large volume of data at a low maintenance cost. The Sybase IQ data warehouse has significantly increased the speed of data delivery to business users. The data warehouse also provides more complete information and access to historical data. This has led to an improvement in the overall quality of the reporting. As a result, the bank's analysts now have a powerful decision support tool.

WEAKNESSES: The cost of the software was higher than other options. However, it was worth the investment as Sybase IQ fit our needs best. Also, there are no test versions available that have full product functionality for developers.

SELECTION CRITERIA: During the initial testing phase to aggregate report generation, Sybase IQ performed the best against other data warehouse solutions, including Oracle. Ad hoc query abilities were also very important to Raiffeisen Bank Aval because the requirements of the reporting could change due to management and executive requests. Sybase IQ does not require prebuilding of queries, giving the flexibility needed to respond to these on-the-fly requests.

DELIVERABLES: The primary outputs of the data warehouse system are executive and management reports. The financial data in these reports is collected and stored in the data warehouse. Each day the data is processed in order to create reports and data marts. As requirements change due to new users and developers, new data and objects are added to the database.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Sybase representatives in our local support office have been very helpful in solving any technical difficulties as well as answering specific questions about the functions of the product in a timely manner. The staff is both knowledgeable and professional. Their willingness to organize custom educational courses for our IT staff has been a great help in our successful deployment. We absolutely trust them to deliver whatever support is needed.

DOCUMENTATION: Raiffeisen Bank Aval has a long-standing relationship with Sybase spanning the past 12 years. The bank continues to select Sybase because the products meet or exceed expectations and the support the bank receives from Sybase also meets and exceeds expectations. This includes any documentation that Sybase produces regarding its products.

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