REVIEWER: Svöltos Lajos, data mart supervisor, National Bank of Hungary.
BACKGROUND: The National Bank of Hungary data warehouse project experienced substantial information and usage growth with hundreds of standard reports and even more ad hoc reports. The IT department of the bank faced a great challenge as it had to provide satisfying performance in the coming years for an exponentially growing number of report users and provide successful run-of-business critical processes in a given, small time frame (such as ETL processes, scheduled report refresh). We also had to ensure strict security and monitoring policy on data warehouse data and new applications.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Oracle 10g with BI, reporting from Business Objects Enterprise XI R2 release.
PROBLEM SOLVED: ActiveKnowledge seemed to be a general solution for most of the challenges as the bank could use it to speed up the report queries and to monitor the data warehouse usage of all applications (both on the server and client sides). The first step was to set up accurate data monitoring, which was vital to the success of the project because of the strict security policy; without it, the project could not go live on the production side.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ActiveBase is centrally and transparently installed on the database server, acting as the Oracle database listener. It identifies audit trails and manages problematic statements submitted in real time to our databases according to their client information, SQL syntax, time of day, timely database load and explain-plan patterns. Because ActiveKnowledge works as a transparent database router, it could monitor all the SQL commands sent to the database without decreasing the performance of the RDBMS. These logs are loaded into a separate schema on a daily basis. Some reports were made on this schema providing a standard querying interface with native Business Objects tools to bank security. Besides, with ActiveKnowledge, other policy requirements are also enforced as only applications accepted via the bank security can now access the database (connections from unknown or banned applications are automatically refused). The queries of the reports were also optimized in a pretty short time by using ActiveKnowledge's SQL Expert. A huge advantage was that optimization (in few cases it meant the rewriting of the original SQL statements) could be made in a way that the reports themselves were not modified at all. This feature made ActiveKnowledge an ideal utility. Preparing for the future, some general rules, such as blocking queries with questionably high Oracle cost or using too many table partitions, had to be set up as well.
STRENGTHS: The most critical strengths are the significant response-time improvements of reports and ad hoc queries, made in a way that the reports themselves were not modified at all. This feature made ActiveKnowledge an ideal utility.
WEAKNESSES: More summary reporting would be helpful, although detail information is easily analyzed.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Because the proof of concept of ActiveBase showed immediate ROI, The National Bank of Hungary team saw the potential and decided to purchase the product.
DELIVERABLES: Since we have had ActiveKnowledge up and running, we have had a significant performance boost on our data warehouse. The work and the needs of the analysts are better understood through ActiveKnowledge logs connected to ad hoc reporting. With quick and easy installation and implementation, ActiveKnowledge has provided twice the overall response time improvement. In addition, important business reporting was accelerated by 27 times! Security policies proved to be perfect for bank security, as only applications accepted via bank security can now access the database.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor and distributor (Processorg Software) support is excellent. Processorg consultants are highly professional and knowledgeable.
DOCUMENTATION: ActiveBase is very easy to install and manage. Its screens are intuitive, and documentation is easy to understand.
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