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Building a new BI infrastructure

Zafar Anjum | Oct. 8, 2012
Waleed Hanafi, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Global Blue, describes Global Blue’s BI Reporting Factory and outlines the challenges faced.

Waleed Hanafi

Waleed Hanafi, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer,  Global Blue, describes Global Blue’s BI Reporting Factory and outlines the challenges faced.

Can you tell us about your Business Intelligence (BI) Reporting Factory? What challenges were you facing with this tool?

Rapid growth in our refund issuing business led to a capacity issue with our existing infrastructure. Our ability to scale rapidly in our own on-premise environment was limited by data centre space constraints. The Business Intelligence (BI) system was identified as the only non-revenue system that would free up capacity, and so it was shut down to protect the revenue systems. 

The initial engineering estimates for building a new BI infrastructure were so high, that there was a real danger of losing the BI capability. I challenged the BI team to use a cloud service provider as a way of staying in business without dependency on our limited internal resources. We evaluated a number of options and chose AWS as our cloud platform.

As we were successful with moving BI to the AWS cloud, we decided to make it a permanent move, and created a Reporting Factory to handle our Merchant Reporting, management dashboards, and other scheduled reporting tasks. These tasks are classic peak computing applications - high resource utilisation for short periods of time - and lend themselves to the cloud environment. The BI Reporting Factory is running on AWS and is accessed by all the 38 locations worldwide. We are also hosting our corporate website, customer-facing websites, and our media content management systems on AWS.   

Why did you turn to AWS to find solutions to your problems? Did you look at other vendors?

Since the BI team is located in Singapore, we needed a vendor who could work with us locally, while still providing facilities in our key markets around the world. As the BI team was not engineering focused, it was also important that the platform be easy to use and configurable by non-engineers. AWS met those criteria, and we started using AWS in 2010. 

How did the AWS solution work for you?

The technology services on the AWS Cloud platform that we are using to build and run our BI Reporting Factory include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The main benefit was ease of use, and the ability of staff with "normal" computing skills to access and configure the setup.

Was the implementation difficult? Did you face any hiccups?

No, the reason why we chose AWS was its ease of use which allowed non-infrastructure specialists to configure the platform. 

What business advantages did you get by choosing the AWS platform?

 

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