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Bull expands access to BI with its Fast Track appliance

Posted on 22 August 2011 by Pierre Picard

Jean-François Vannier, Business Intelligence Infrastructures Sales Manager, Bull

As ways of using BI evolve… infrastructures are changing too

A Business Intelligence (BI) system should be able to present a general picture of the organization in many different ways, depending on needs and questions being asked. If production RDBMS are, first and foremost, transaction processing systems designed to manage the organization’s business activities, the data warehouse is above all a system for interrogation. It gathers, combines, sorts, filters, reorganizes, links and reshapes information from many different systems and sources of data in the organization. It provides access to a massive amount of information, so it can respond to the largest number of potential questions. So the information in it must be stored in such a way as to meet these needs efficiently.

BI applications are generally linked to huge data warehouses, which include detailed data both recent and historic. They carry out read requests under constraints that are sometimes at odds with the amount of data that needs to be processed. They are mixing planned queries and ad hoc requests from users depending on immediate needs… putting ever greater demands on performance.

Because of this, choosing the right architecture to host the data warehouse is a complex step, that has to take into account both quantitative factors (such as the amount of data to be processed and the number of users) and qualitative issues (the complexity of queries and the data logic model, for example), directly related to the organization’s business activities. With one key challenge: to delay the moment when the system becomes saturated and response times are not longer acceptable to users. So ‘Business Intelligence appliances’ provide a highly effective and appropriate response to this.

BI appliance: a new building block in the information system

Appliances are designed to ensure optimum utilization of the available capacity from your hardware resources, as well as controlling them. They are based on an intricate interweaving of software and hardware to ensure the best possible service delivery in BI contexts. The information processing capacity is understood and controlled, greatly limiting the possibility of an unpleasant surprise resulting from a network link being fully occupied with a big download or a disk controller monopolized by an unexpectedly large update… As a result, BI appliances will be able to deliver levels of performance that would otherwise be impossible to achieve, and are becoming essential for users of ‘giant’ data warehouses like banks, telecoms companies, retailers and Internet companies.

Fast Track: lower-cost, less complex BI, more in tune with your needs

Designed in partnership with Microsoft, Bull Fast Track is a totally integrated range of infrastructures, whose performance has been specifically optimized for BI use. Bull Fast Track is aimed not only at organizations who want to rapidly implement a comprehensive BI project, but also at those looking for more power, performance and scalability or who want to optimize their existing BI infrastructures. Based on standard components, Bull Fast Track enables rapid deployment for lower capital and running costs. As a result, the appliance offers much lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than other solutions on the market.

Customization, simplicity and rapid implementation

Thanks to a totally integrated approach, all the services needed for decision support are brought together in a unique way: data warehouse population services, data storage services in a relational database, restitution services, multi-dimensional analysis services. The organization can choose the services it wants to activate or even add. Administration and supervision are managed centrally via a console that is integral to the solution, for simple and immediate control.

Performance and scalability

The design of Bull Fast Track is based on Microsoft’s benchmark SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse architecture. It offers both sequential access to data, for increased and linear performance, and tight hardware/software coupling to guarantee the best possible performances by using each of the components of the solution to their maximum capacity. The solution is equipped with a high-availability cluster, to which a storage sub-system is added for cubes, as well as a back-up storage area. A number of solutions are available for different quantities of data, designed to evolve according to a ‘scale-out’ process that can be implemented in situ.

High value-added services

As integrator of complex infrastructures, Bull provides its expertise and know-how at every stage in the project:

  • Consulting and audit: capacity planning, physical modeling, performance management
  • Designing the decision support environment: prototype, consulting, implementation planning, modeling, proof of concept
  • Monitoring and operation: managing the BI environment, back-up, performance management, remote systems administration
  • Business continuity/disaster recovering planning
  • Managing changes to In-Service Support
  • Tutoring, skills transfer.

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