Fast-Growing Data Requires Centralization to Continue Servicing Clients Properly
As a first-class, globally-active asset manager, UBP endeavors to offer its clients high-quality and innovative investment solutions that enable them to achieve their goals. Fast and unrestricted up-to-the-minute data visibility is therefore crucial, not just for the creation of reports on the current financial situation, but also for forecasting developments based on historical data.
UBP also operates in an environment in which the constant availability of current and historical data is crucial not only for optimizing business processes and offering clients the best possible consulting services, but also to stay at the top of the extremely competitive financial services sector.
Up-to-the-minute data is crucial for optimizing business processes, and customers expect fast and professional advice based on relevant and current information—especially in the wake of recent financial crises. Furthermore, in the face of economic downturns, it is also increasingly necessary for companies in the financial sector to analyze and optimize their business processes quickly and reliably using up-to-date, reliable data.
UBP has always met the expectations of its clients and even in difficult times, the bank continues to enjoy solid financial foundations. But over the years, the amount of business data UBP handles has grown exponentially. Under pressure to meet this ever-increasing volume of data, UBP saw itself facing multiple challenges.
This included the needed to archive both historical and current data from heterogeneous database systems—including Sybase, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server—into a single, centralized database at IT headquarters in Geneva. The new database needed to be accessible for all existing and future reporting and data-warehousing applications. UBP also needed to access the data quickly and easily without any volume restrictions. Furthermore, the database needed to be set up as a data warehouse and provide company-wide accessibility.
In addition to needing the system to generate informative reports quickly, UBP also needed it to scale efficiently as data volumes increased and as the number of simultaneous reports and ad-hoc queries increased. High availability and stabile performance were other key attributes that UBP sought.
Seamless Integration of Multiple Data Sources
Prior to its decision to opt for a Sybase solution, UBP looked at solutions offered by other providers. However, particularly in view of Sybase’s strengths in terms of performance and data compression, it quickly became clear that Sybase IQ was ideal for UBP. The IQ column-based analytics server—with its outstanding indexing technology—forms the optimum basis for analytics and reports that were previously impossible or simply too costly to create.
Within a proof-of-concept framework ably supported by Sybase consultants, all the steps required to implement the new reporting platform were completed in just a few days. The implementation and data integration were performed by a UBP database administration team with no further need for support from Sybase.
A key aspect of the seamless integration was the Standard ANSI SQL Support from Sybase, which enables the simple migration of all data to Sybase IQ. Furthermore, no schema modification was necessary for the migration of the Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server data into Sybase IQ. The existing data models could therefore be easily migrated to Sybase IQ without the need for laborious and costly administration processes or any complicated ETL processes. Data was simply transferred 1:1.
Compression Rate Reduces Storage Needs by 70 Percent
UBP's hardware infrastructure for this project relied on several components, including an Intel server with two quad-core processors and a Linux Red Hat 4 operating system. HP EVA 8000 SAN disks store the data, and the compression rate achieved using Sybase IQ was approximately 70 percent—only 300GB of disk space was thus required for the 1TB of raw data from the various source systems. The stored data contains accounting, financial and pricing information that are periodically inserted into the data warehouse using Talend as the ETL tool.
200 users are linked to Sybase IQ, and financial account reports are created online or in periodic batch runs using a range of business intelligence tools. Sybase IQ is deployed in a .NET environment and integrated with business intelligence solutions from SAP Business Objects and Microsoft SSAS (for OLAP Cubes). Front-end technology from Talend is deployed for data integration.
The project took a total of just three months to complete, and a decisive factor in the migration process was the integration capability of Sybase IQ. The solution was very easy to integrate into the existing IT infrastructure, and UBP was able to integrate both applications that run on Sybase IQ within the system in a single day and then connect them to Sybase IQ via gateways.
Reports Generated in Mere Seconds
UBP registered positive results as soon as Sybase IQ was deployed due to how the column-based analytics server meets all the requirements for central access to historical and current data. Loading data from heterogeneous systems to a single central database also enables fast and flexible access to information from a range of sources. In addition, the column-based approach of Sybase IQ ensures fast access to data—without labor-intensive indexing, which accelerates the generation of suitably-detailed and accurate reports.
As far as the conversion was concerned, it was a huge advantage that UBP’s staff was familiar with Sybase since the bank was already using solutions such as Sybase ASE and Sybase PowerDesigner. UBP thus had no need for extensive professional services from Sybase, and thanks to the intuitive user interface, UBP did not require any comprehensive staff training.
With Sybase IQ, UBP was also able to set up a comprehensive data warehouse and dramatically improve its reporting quality thanks to the availability of historical data and enhanced query performance. The reduced overall solution costs also played a key role in UBP's decision to opt for Sybase IQ since a single server now satisfies the entire company’s business requirements.
Users benefit primarily from an overall improvement in performance: queries that previously required ten minutes can now be processed in a matter of seconds. In addition, large numbers of reports can be generated dramatically faster based on historical data. Thanks to Sybase IQ, UBP was also able to delete 2,000 files from the sub-system, thus enhancing the performance of the sub-system as a result of the reduced volume of data.
Success of Sybase IQ Creates Possibilities for Expanded Analysis
"We learned that the management and provisioning of huge volumes of data does not have to be a problem,” says Christian Michon, IM – DBA Manager at UBP. “Information that previously took minutes to retrieve is now available in seconds. It is also a huge advantage that Sybase IQ allows us to provide all company data via a single platform— without any negative impact on performance."
The positive results achieved using Sybase IQ have already inspired UBP to consider further application options. The company plans to deploy the analytics server for quantitative and risk analysis.
"Thanks to Sybase IQ, we have truly optimized our reporting and thus our business processes,” Michon adds. “And that is the only way we can advise our clients adequately while ultimately maintaining the competitive edge required to succeed in this cut-throat market. It is highly likely that Sybase will also play a key role in any future development of our IT infrastructure."