BACKGROUND: ZDNet operates the leading Web destination for people who want to buy, use and learn about technology. ZDNet serves original, fresh content in enormous depth and breadth to a growing audience ranging from IT professionals to families and gamers.
PLATFORMS: ZDNet runs Torrent Systems Orchestrate on a Sun platform and a Solaris operating system.
PROBLEM SOLVED: To create the daily reports on site traffic and clickthrough patterns that set ZDNet above the competition, our advertising reporting system needed to be able to process and analyze clickstream data from about 100 million advertising events. This included summarizing site traffic, providing customer profiles and mapping clickthrough patterns. These reports enable our advertisers to understand who reads their ads at what time and what location on the site. ZDNet's consistent ability to deliver this detailed information justifies advertising expenditures for its customers. Indeed, these reports form the basis of our client billing. When the Melissa Virus struck, traffic rose an astonishing 20 percent in one day. While the sharp increase affirmed ZDNet's position as a leading source of technology content and services, the traffic also doubled the processing time for the night's advertising reports from two hours to four. This confirmed something ZDNet already knew: if traffic continued to grow at its current pace, nightly reporting would no longer be possible. ZDNet's original reporting system was distributed among multiple machines, and the synchronization of processes was handled through file locking and batch processing. This environment was becoming increasingly difficult to scale and manage. ZDNet needed technology that would enable our reporting system to use all available processors to simultaneously analyze far more data in dramatically less time and allow the business to grow. ZDNet used Orchestrate to build a scalable, online advertising traffic and reporting system. The system analyzes clickstream data from about 100 million advertising events to create daily reports on site traffic and clickthrough patterns of ZDNet's more than 500 advertising customers.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Orchestrate is the only product we found that enables Internet and click-and-mortar enterprises to build, deploy and manage applications that can process, analyze and integrate massive volumes of clickstream and transaction data. Other clickstream processing and Web site analysis tools including in-house solutions cannot scale automatically to accommodate growing clickstream volumes because the tools were designed to run on only one processor.
STRENGTHS: Prior to implementing Orchestrate, ZDNet manually programmed complex application logic in order to scale the system across multiple processors. Orchestrate provides a parallel software infrastructure that automatically allows large-scale applications to run on multiple processors, dramatically increasing performance and business benefits while managing complex tasks such as data integration.
WEAKNESSES: Orchestrate is a component- based architecture with native components that address many of the standard extract, transform and load operations. We required some filtering components not included in the base set, so we simply incorporated our own. Shortly, Torrent will release native components that will manage clickstream data more efficiently.
SELECTION CRITERIA: ZDNet needed technology that would enable our reporting system to run simultaneously on all available processors, thus analyzing far more data in less time. ZDNet looked into Orchestrate, because of Orchestrate's success in enabling large-scale analytical solutions for strategic IT companies such as Fingerhut Companies and United Airlines. By processing unprecedented volumes of data with unrestricted analytical complexity, Orchestrate provides businesses with the tools to solve problems once considered impossible.
DELIVERABLES: ZDNet saw immediate and quantifiable results from Orchestrate. Not only did Orchestrate expedite our analysis and reporting despite the enormous growth in traffic and data volume it also allowed us to increase the sophistication of our reporting and add new analytical routines. In short, it allowed us to serve our advertisers better.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Torrent's responsiveness and availability were exceptional. Thanks to the company's standard support, we had Orchestrate in production to resolve our scaling and performance issues just three months after purchase.
DOCUMENTATION: Torrent trained our staff and provided more than six volumes of comprehensive product documentation.
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