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Global bank embraces Big Data as it transitions to SAS® High-Performance Analytics

When a global bank needed to upgrade its business analytics platform to meet growing data and performance demands, SAS® Professional Services listened and defined a bespoke solution to meet its migration requirements which significantly reduced risk and project timescales.

In the era of Big Data and High- Performance Analytics, this global bank had a problem: after six years of use, a business-critical SAS® platform was nearing the limits of its capacity. Limitations of the system design prevented it from scaling to meet the demands of ever increasing data and processing power required to hit service level agreements. The bank needed a new platform based on a scalable architecture that would meet its immediate and future business objectives.

Enter SAS® Grid Computing
SAS® Grid Computing, part of the SAS® High-Performance Analytics offering, delivers enterprise class capabilities that enable SAS applications to automatically leverage grid computing, run faster and take optimal advantage of computing resources. Customers can process high-volume SAS programs faster, improve hardware utilisation and future-proof computing infrastructure.

The bank engaged with SAS® Professional Services to define the target architecture for a new platform based on SAS Grid Computing, and the migration roadmap to take their existing system to new hardware and a new version of SAS.

It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a complicated migration project due to heavy use of the old platform. The sheer volume of content to be moved (nearly 1900 jobs in over 50 flows, reading from and writing to over 2500 tables), the operational nature of the system and the introduction of a new computing platform were obvious challenges. Taking on board the bank's requirements and the complexity of the environment, it was clear that thinking differently to de-risk the project implementation was the right thing to do for our customer.

Thinking differently - innovating for our customers
SAS Professional Services wanted to mitigate the risk to the project by minimising the impact on the existing platform and decoupling the project, as much as possible, from the environmental constraints of the bank. The first step to achieve this was to mirror the bank's old and new environment using specially procured hardware to replicate the bank's scenario. The next step was for the SAS delivery team to design an innovative approach to the migration which meant that large elements of the project implementation could take place at SAS rather than at the bank's site.

Migration Factory
One particular challenge for the migration was that the existing system was at 100% load most of the time. Conventional migration methods risked interrupting business operations and leaving branch staff unable to serve customers. The bank challenged SAS to devise a way to migrate from the existing system to their new replacement grid, without impacting services.

SAS committed to rapidly deploy infrastructure closely representing the bank's new and existing environments. This investment by SAS, combined with our deep knowledge of the SAS platform, allowed us to develop an innovative approach to perform the migration without impacting the existing system. We settled on the term Migration Factory for both this approach and the environment together. It represents the idea of a place where complex migration work can be done on the customer's metadata in a secure and efficient production line. Using the Migration Factory involved duplicating the job, flow, table and other associated metadata from the bank's operational system on that separate, secure infrastructure. Since it was not being constantly accessed by thousands of the bank's head office or branch staff, it was stable, very fast and could be managed without operational constraints to suit the requirements of migration work.

Once on the separate infrastructure, SAS Professional Services consultants were free to use all available techniques in the Migration Factory to complete the migration. They then returned the upgraded metadata to the bank's new grid environment for testing and roll-out, all with no noticeable impact on the 1773UK0512 existing operational service. Our source and target migration environments, and the techniques to move content between them define our Migration Factory approach.

The infrastructure deployed by SAS demonstrated all of the anticipated functionality and optimised the design before implementation. The metadata was returned to the bank from the Migration Factory. Once imported and run on the new infrastructure, the output data produced by its jobs could be proven to be complete and correct. This approach reduced risk, increased the customer's confidence, and saved a substantial amount of time during both the implementation and migration phases.

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Global Bank - Big Data Services

Business Issue:
Migrate an existing operational system to a new analytics platform that meets the performance needs of the business.
Solution:
A collaborative SAS and customer team combining domain knowledge and technical expertise adopted a genuinely novel approach to the migration that utilised SAS investment in dedicated hardware to re-create the bank's environments at SAS UK's headquarters.
Benefits:
The application of migration techniques that improved customer confidence, reduced project risk and kept timescales in check; ultimately resulting in the delivery of a successful migration to a new high-performance analytics platform that massively outperforms the previous system.

SAS Grid Computing enables SAS applications to run faster, improve hardware utilisation and future-proof computing infrastructure.

Spokesperson

Global bank

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