Performance & Workload Management Services Case Study

Jonathan G. Geiger, September 2007

This is a case study in how Teradata Professional Services assisted Hallmark in uniting their existing Teradata environments, quickly, effectively and confidently.
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Customer Background

Hallmark Cards, Inc. is a privately held four billion dollar company headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. It is known globally for helping people express their feelings and touching the lives of others through its greeting cards and personal expression products. The company also owns the crayon manufacturer, Crayola, and other related companies. Its products are sold in approximately 100 countries through over 40,000 retail outlets, of which about 4,000 bear the Hallmark Gold Crown name.

Two years ago, Hallmark was operating two Teradata environments: one environment has been in place since 1991 and was primarily used for its enterprise data warehouse and the other environment was added in 2001 for customer relationship management (CRM). Hallmark made the decision to consolidate the two systems into an enterprise data warehouse. Merging the two systems would help achieve the benefits of “single system of record” where data is stored once and used by many employees across Hallmark to make better business decisions. The resulting consolidated environment was an 18 node Teradata system.

Customer Challenge

The emphasis of the consolidation project was to unify the Teradata environments in a speedy manner, putting performance considerations on the back burner. The integration teams knew that eventually performance issues needed to be addressed— they just didn’t realize how quickly challenges would occur. In fact, the teams anticipated challenges in meeting service level agreements (SLAs) during peak business hours, but were surprised when SLAs were not met during non-peak hours as well.

Hallmark lacked the internal resources to mitigate its performance challenges and sought assistance from Teradata Professional Services. Hallmark had worked with Teradata Professional Services in the past, and knew Teradata’s experience, proven business results, and customer commitment would help address the performance issues.

Shortly after migrating to the single Teradata environment, Hallmark acquired an additional Teradata configuration for a demand chain application. The decision to house the new application on a separate Teradata environment was largely due to the performance issues the company was experiencing at the time on the newly combined server. Hallmark’s long-term plan was to consolidate all systems.

Let’s see how Teradata’s Professional Services addressed the performance issues.

Teradata Performance & Workload Management Services

Teradata Professional Services experts know that effective data warehouse management requires a proactive approach to ensure performance levels meet service level objectives and that capacity needs are anticipated in time to take actions to ensure sufficient resources. In that vein, Teradata offers a suite of Performance services:

  • Performance Management Assessment
  • Performance Data Collection and Reporting
  • Application Tuning
  • Workload Management
  • Capacity Planning

Teradata’s Performance Management Assessment is often used to evaluate and scorecard the performance of an existing data warehouse environment. The Performance Data Collection and Reporting service offering involves the installation of a proprietary database that captures Teradata system performance data and provides diagnostic reports and graphs to help tune applications, monitor system performance and workloads, and develop capacity plans.

Teradata’s Workload Management capabilities proved crucial to Hallmark’s consolidation efforts. It’s relatively easy to put two hardware systems together – it’s a much harder task to put a consolidated system in place that balances and satisfies the needs all business users. It’s imperative that a data warehouse handle strategic analysis while providing quick response to informational requests that drive daily operations. Workload management techniques help establish priorities for both query types and set business rules to deliver service availability and predictable performance.

Teradata’s engagement at Hallmark began with the installation of the performance data collection and reporting database on Hallmark’s system. Following the two-week period during which the database was installed, there was a short break to allow performance history to collect. After data collection completed, two Teradata consultants worked with Hallmark for another four weeks. Ken Dale, a Hallmark database administrator (DBA) was impressed by the caliber and dedication of the consultants, “I’ve been at other sites in which consulting firms brought in very skilled people initially and then swapped them out. Teradata brought in very knowledgeable consultants and kept them here for the duration.”

Most of the performance monitoring and workload management was performed during the second visit using the collected performance data. The Teradata team did not merely install the package and perform the tuning and workload management. Throughout the engagement, the team emphasized knowledge transfer to ensure Hallmark was well-equipped to manage the performance of the environment and to manage workloads after the engagement. In addition to formal training sessions, the Teradata team thoroughly explained each task performed, as well as the reasons for specific tuning actions.

Customer Results

Hallmark’s performance tuning needs were completely satisfied and the engagement was completed on schedule. A year later, the combined environment is consistently meeting performance goals and Hallmark’s team is performing workload management and system performance effectively.

Teradata’s Professional Services team:

  • Refreshed the customer's data collection and analysis techniques, knowledge, and processes in 6 critical areas
  • Made more than 12 concrete workload recommendations in system resource usage and workload management
  • Identified the top 35 problematic queries and the tables referenced by the queries

Ken Dale noted, “Teradata’s emphasis on involving Hallmark’s personnel throughout the process was instrumental to our now being self-sufficient.” Due to the effective knowledge transfer, Hallmark’s staff is able to apply the concepts it learned from Teradata and now keeps the data warehouse environment well-tuned even as data loads have increased.

Hallmark is currently in the process of merging the Teradata demand chain environment into its enterprise data warehouse. After engaging Teradata Professional Services and benefiting from their expertise, Hallmark is confident its staff can accurately forecast needed capacity and ensure that the consolidated environment meets performance expectations.

Summary

Teradata’s Performance Services provide clients with an effective performance data collection mechanism along with capabilities to enable application tuning, workload management, and capacity planning. Hallmark Cards used the performance data collection and workload management services to gain a solid understanding of its Teradata environment so that it could better control their environment. With the knowledge transfer provided by the Teradata consultants and the tools that were installed with the service, Hallmark is now confident that the environment will continue to perform well and that its IT personnel will accurately predict resource needs in time to take appropriate actions.

For More Information

To see how Teradata can create unique competitive for your business, contact us today. For more information about Teradata, contact your Teradata Representative or visit Teradata.com.