Helping GO Outdoors on their Business Intelligence journey

Based in Sheffield, GO Outdoors are the biggest outdoor retailer in the UK. The company was created in 1979 and now has more than 40 stores nationwide.

Why did GO Outdoors take this project on board?

Mid-way through 2013, GO Outdoors decided to move its servers to a new set of data centres. Instead of replicating their existing set up for their Business Intelligence they looked at their future business requirements and whether a different approach had advantages for them. GO Outdoors planned to triple the number of users of its OBI deployment at the same time as wanting a better performing solution that could be scalable, meeting their needs for several years.

What approach did GO Outdoors take to meet their needs?

GO Outdoors opted for a move to a "private cloud" hosted on new hardware for their Oracle Data Warehouse and Oracle Business Intelligence in their own data centre.

What was the role of Peak Indicators on the project?

Peak Indicators designed and architectured an innovative solution. This was Go Outdoors' own "private cloud" and an optimised, flexible and scalable data centre.

What are the advantages of "cloud" for GO Outdoors?

Even with virtualisation many organisations struggle to keep up with the demand for new environments resulting in bottlenecks that can be difficult for end users to understand.

Databases need ever greater memory to keep up with the demands made on them, and traditional "virtualisation" actually makes them go slower.

SAN storage Administrators are reluctant to allocate dedicated storage to data hungry data warehouses.

What does GO Outdoors get from their cloud BI?

Any cloud BI solution should be able to deliver:

  • Virtualized infrastructure
  • Increased capacity on-demand
  • Support for all types of Oracle license metric (Named User, CPU etc)
  • Provisioning of new environments within minutes
  • Improved overall performance
  • Zero-maintenance performance features
  • Full resilience / DR
  • Lower infrastructure / administration costs

What was the solution provided by Peak Indicators?

Peak Indicators provided an "in house" cloud solution, with 100% Oracle products. An infrastructure comprised of hardware/storage, virtualization, database optimization and data centre resilience. An Analytics solution that could offer the same benefits as a cloud service such as a virtualized infrastructure, lower infrastructure and administration costs, increased capacity on-demand, provisioning of new environments within minutes and improved overall performance.

What hardware and storage was chosen?

  • Infrastructure based on the Oracle Sun X3-2L:
  • 10x more memory than existing platform
  • 50% faster CPUs
  • Large array of disks for striping data, high-performance configuration
  • Less rack space than existing system
  • Spare capacity to grow “on demand” as GO Outdoors grows
  • In-built resilience (dual-everything)

What are the support advantages of Oracle Sun Hardware?

  • Integrated Lights-Out Management (ILOM)
  • Remote console & management capabilities
  • Accessible even when server is powered off
  • Oracle ASR (Auto Service Request)
  • Server is connected direct to Oracle support
  • Service Requests automatically created if any hardware component fails
  • Engineers called out automatically to replace failed component
  • Email / SNMP alerts generated whenever there is a warning or failure

What were the typical problems with cloud/virtulized infrastructure?

Virtualization brings many benefits such as cloning, centralised administration, resource management etc. but for databases it can have a big performance implication. The “virtualization” layer slows down data I/O throughput – it makes your databases slower! Oracle VM provides the solution.

What advantages did Oracle VM provide?

Oracle VM Server was chosen as the virtualisation platform for the following reasons

  • Freely available (Oracle Support is a cost option)
  • Supports all Oracle licensing models (Named User, CPU, Hard Partitioning etc)
  • Maximises the value of your Oracle licenses
  • Fantastic cloning capability & performance
  • Ability to create new Oracle BI environments in minutes
  • Extremely flexible, facilitates High Availability and Disaster Recovery
  • It also has a very important feature for database performance: ParaVirtualization

What is Para-Virtualization?

Oracle VM comes with a unique “para-virtualization” feature, OS and Software are virtualized but your data bypasses the “virtualization” layer completely so you get all the benefits of virtualization but your database still delivers the performance of raw physical storage.

What was the overall outcome of the project?

The presented solution has several advantages. Besides all the "private cloud" capabilities, the solution allowed a 2.7x faster overnight ETL, 6x faster OBI aggregate build, key reports reduction from 27 minutes to run to 45 seconds and no time "wasted" on backups.

What were the key practices to achieve success?

GO Outdoors achieved success by:

  • Modernising the hardware (lots of memory, fast CPUs)
  • Using dedicated storage, configured for high-performance
  • Virtualizing using Oracle VM for high-performance
  • Para-virtualizing the database “data”
  • Using the opportunity to upgrade to the latest software versions
  • Adopting key low-maintenance performance features (Auto Parallel Query, Oracle ASM)

What should businesses looking at Cloud consider?

All organisations have the ability to build their own private-cloud infrastructure and deliver significant business value.

Key tips:

  • Modernise your hardware (lots of memory, fast CPUs)
  • Use dedicated storage, configured for high-performance
  • Virtualize using Oracle VM for high-performance
  • Para-virtualize your database “data”
  • Use the opportunity to upgrade to the latest software versions
  • Adopt key low-maintenance performance features (Auto Parallel Query, Oracle ASM)

Contact us for more information