The Storage Hypervisor boosts Charities’ Data Mining speed up 400%.

DataCore Software, the storage hypervisor leader and premier provider of storage virtualisation software, today announced that the British Red Cross Society has deployed the latest version of its SANsymphony™-V storage hypervisor (version 8.1) to provide a significant performance acceleration on its new Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) system to dramatically decrease the response times and increase the reliability of the data extraction. This reduction was achieved by installing a single node of SANsymphony-V on a HP Proliant DL 370 server, running to consistently reduce the Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) window from an average of 12 hours to 4 hours with the load spread across half the number of internal hard disk drives achieved through SANsymphony-V’s thin provisioning.

The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom registered charity arm of the worldwide impartial humanitarian organisation, the International Red Cross. Formed in 1870, the Red Cross has over 31,000 volunteers and 3,300 staff providing assistance and aid to all people in crisis, both in the UK and overseas, without discrimination, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality or religion. Kevin Bush is the Technical Architect within the Charity’s MIS Enterprise Architecture Team located in the City of London data centre and head office. He explains: “In order to sustain the Charity’s considerable ongoing work worldwide, the Red Cross needs to continually generate additional income from new and existing donors. It’s our function in MIS to ensure the relevant departmental units have the appropriate infrastructure available to allow them to complete automated processes in time to fulfil marketing campaigns to drive further donations.”

To help facilitate ongoing fundraising, a new suite of hardware and business intelligence tools were deployed six months ago at the British Red Cross utilising OLAP – an approach that swiftly answers multi-dimensional analytical queries through accurate Business Intelligence (BI) tools deployed on British Red Cross’ SQL Server database. Using BI data marts are created that track behavioural changes, creating campaign relevancy trends for business units. This level of data profiling, specifying individual campaigns with matched targets, entails significant I/O (Input/Output) processing demands and depends on a stable optimised infrastructure. Working in conjunction with the MIS Enterprise Architecture Team, British Red Cross’ partner, Adapto, highlighted that deploying DataCore’s SANsymphony-V software could significantly decrease the I/O strain and dramatically increase performance in a very cost effective, non-invasive way. SANsymphony-V, otherwise known as the Storage Hypervisor, could dramatically improve performance levels by increasing the speed of read/write requests across the entire British Red Cross storage infrastructure using the storage server memory as the caching engine. This caching could dramatically accelerate application response times manifesting in a dramatic increase in speed of database query and extraction for the business units.

Critical to the effectiveness of the Extract/Transform and Load (ETL) from the database is achieving ongoing consistency that is contained within a predefined extraction window. Determining these two factors is the speed of I/O to process workloads; a slow I/O equates to a long and erratic extraction window. In practice, prior to the performance caching gains, each ETL was taking between 9-15 hours being set to run overnight with the resultant data marts ready in time for the next working day.

Following Adapto’s suggestion, Kevin downloaded the easy to install SANsymphony-V test drive and right away ran a test ETL that displayed immediate benefits through DataCore’s mega caching ability, with the software recognising I/O patterns to anticipate which blocks to read next into RAM from the back-end disks. Requests became fulfilled quickly from memory at electronic speeds hiding the delay associate with the physical disk I/O. The findings were impressive; the production ready, easy to use GUI allowed the ETL to perform at blistering pace, similar to that achieved by SSD but without the associated overheads. This manifested in a four hour query extraction timeframe.

Kevin concludes: “From the point of evaluation onwards, we haven’t looked back with SANsymphony-V. It’s caching and performance acceleration has certainly addressed the consistency of extraction, whilst reducing the window to an acceptable level, so that as a Charity, we can concentrate on effective fundraising to help those most in need. We are so impressed that we are now looking at installing dual node of SANsymphony-V for high availability and mirroring.”