Caudwell Puts Power Behind Its Data Warehouse Strategy

The need to quickly carry out data mining and segmentation on more than a billion call records forced this telecom company to look beyond the traditional data warehouse.

Ted Kemp, Contributor

May 13, 2004

3 Min Read

After a reviewing a series of data warehouse tools to help it analyze a staggering amount of call records, U.K.-based Caudwell Communications initiated a data warehouse strategy designed to architecturally integrate its database, server and storage into a single appliance.

Caudwell Communications is a major player in the Carrier Preselect (CPS) market, reselling telecom capacity it buys from big providers' networks. The market was formed as a result of European Union directives to break up the continent's large, state-run telephone monolopies.

Caudwell deployed a data warehouse appliance from Netezza that includes an unmodified HP two-way server, proprietary Netezza database software and 114 separate IBM standard 40Gb disk drives designed to yield quick response times without prearranging data records or generating data cubes. Caudwell uses Business Objects for ad hoc reporting, and is in the process of deciding on an analytical tool to work in conjunction with the Linux-based warehouse.

The Netezza system won out over a series of more traditional data warehouse contenders and software-based tools that either couldn’t hold company's full set of call records, showed inadequate load performance or cost more than Caudwell was ready to pay, said Caudwell data center manager Steve Morgan.

Mandate-driven changes in the CPS market landscape have helped boost Caudwell's customer base 50-fold in the last 18 months, and the company currently has 1.2 billion call records stored on the Netezza system. Nine months ago, when Caudwell was still in its first year of business as a unit of parent company the Caudwell Group, it found it could quickly mine and segment no more than 60 to 90 days of calls on Oracle Unix and SQL Server-based database technologies, Morgan said.

Morgan's team subsequently found a Teradata data warehouse tool that could handle the necessary volume, but Caudwell ruled out the technology on cost. A software-based tool from ClarityBlue had adequate reporting performance, but generated inadequate load speeds, Morgan said.

Morgan credited the Netezza tool's multiple disk drives with the system's reporting speed. A handful of key reports whose generation once required two or three Caudwell employees to work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. can now be pulled together in about half an hour, Morgan said.

Caudwell stores all its call records -- or roughly two terabytes of data -- on the Netezza system, which has a total capacity of 14 terabytes. Caudwell plans to either buy more capacity or run a separate appliance in tandem with the first when its current warehouse reaches full capacity.

The analytical technology will be key for Caudwell to achieve a full return on its investment in the data warehouse, Morgan said. To preserve the processing speed it gets from the new data warehouse, Caudwell needs an analytical engine that effectively fires against the Netezza system rather than pulling data from the warehouse and analyzing it on its own.

"As a business, the real criticality for us is that when senior management comes in, they can start making business decisions in the morning rather than waiting until the afternoon," Morgan said.

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