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Rethinking data management

April 3, 2012

When I hear the term inventory management industries that first spring to mind are manufacturing and retail, so I listened closely when I heard a specialist from our financial services team using the term. Banks and other finance companies must exercise tight control of their computing assets to comply with industry regulations. Given the distributed and networked configurations of modern computer systems, meeting regulatory demands can be a challenge and understanding data residing on each machine complicates this already difficult task.

As in other industries, banks have looked to computing to improve the effectiveness and reduce the costs of inventory control, but their efforts have often been piecemeal; for example, one bank previously relied on more than 40 systems together managing hundreds of terabytes of data. This “system of systems” was cumbersome and ineffective: answering a seemingly simple question about one computer's configuration and the data under its management could consume weeks of work. A new manager experienced in infrastructure solutions for the global financial services industry prompted a rethinking of data management strategy, and on this foundation the bank has created a new infrastructure master data hub that teams DB2 with a Netezza appliance. Taking advantage of DB2's massive scalability has allowed the Bank to consolidate those hundreds of terabytes previously distributed across more than 40 systems in to a single, integrated database with a common data model. Beyond data consolidation, DB2 also serves as the operational data store (ODS) – answering short queries with a very high arrival rate. The Infosphere Suite of products moves data quickly from the ODS to Netezza where reports and advanced analytics run. Now the bank's data configurations are under the control of an overarching governance model while its business has a near real-time view of its asset inventory.

Regular visitors to Thinking Inside the Box will have heard of the advantages of distributing computing tasks to platforms specifically designed to process those particular workloads. Just as the bank solved a problem that previously proved intractable, rethinking data management can deliver enormous benefits. In future blogs I will explore other organizations that combine different data management products to create value from their data.

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