Digi-Key Corporation Improves Query Performance by 513 Times and Supports Continual Growth with Enterprisewide Data Warehouse
 
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Digi-Key Corporation Improves Query Performance by 513 Times and Supports Continual Growth with Enterprisewide Data Warehouse

Digi-Key Corporation is an electronics components distributor with a business philosophy centered on providing a superior customer service experience. In only six years, Digi-Key has moved from 16th largest to 5th largest among the more than 300 electronic component distributors in North America. The company serves an international market from a single, geographically centralized location and is committed to a fill rate (the percentage of ordered items that are completely delivered in one shipment) of better than 95%, compared to an industry average of 50% or less.

Digi-Key has more than 479,000 customers in over 170 countries. The company processes approximately 15,000 orders each day—and more than 3.4 million yearly. It maintains 2 million stock keeping units in inventory, and the company prides itself on processing shipments within 20 minutes of order receipt. Approximately 80% of Digi-Key’s sales are processed online.

To support its continued growth, Digi-Key decided to implement a robust, enterprisewide data warehouse that includes data from various source systems across all parts of the business. Digi-Key built a data warehouse based on Oracle Exadata Database Machine to meet its growing performance needs and enable the company to improve the timeliness in reporting to enable better decision-making.

The new data warehouse is the central source for reporting and business intelligence (BI) analytics for the enterprise, presenting both real-time and point-in-time information for the business. Oracle Exadata Database Machine helps Digi-Key process critical reports much more quickly. For example, one key report—a batch processing report—that the business heavily relies on throughout the day, previously took 26 minutes to run. Now with the Oracle-based data warehouse, Digi-Key can run the report in 32 seconds—or 49 times faster—enabling business users to receive the information they require when they need it, to make more effective decisions. The company is also able to run more than 80% of its queries up to 50 times faster with Oracle Exadata Database Machine. For example, one query that previously took an hour to run in production now runs more than 500 times faster, in only seven seconds. As a result, Digi-Key can make business decisions immediately and complete order fulfillment within 20 minutes of order placement.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Digi-Key Corporation

  • “With continued growth, we need to be more agile and make decisions more quickly. Our enterprise data warehouse—based on Oracle Exadata Database Machine—provides us with the speed and performance we need to get real-time analytics into the hands of our decision-makers.” – Miles Oustad, Manager, Database Services, Digi-Key Corporation

  • Implement an enterprisewide data warehouse to support continued growth with improved reporting capabilities and business intelligence
  • Accelerate batch reporting and query times to put real-time intelligence into business users’ hands more quickly, for improved decision-making
  • Continue to grow the business based on industry-leading commitment to customer service in the more than 170 countries where Digi-Key distributes electronics components and expand that footprint in the global market

Solutions

  • Provided a central source of reporting and analytics for the business, moving data into the data warehouse in real time, and presenting both real-time and point-in-time information to better support decision-making
  • Processed critical reports much more quickly—for example, reducing the time needed to run critical purchasing reports from under a half hour to just seconds (49-times faster)―enabling Digi-Key to make important business decisions
  • Accelerated more than 80% of queries with Oracle Exadata Database Machine, including one query, representative of many, that includes customers, products, and sales, and that previously took more than one hour to run, now runs 500 times more quickly
  • Provided capacity to add 25 million to 40 million rows of data to the data warehouse each day
  • Used Oracle’s Sun ZFS Storage 7420 and Sun ZFS Storage 7320 appliances for high-speed, reliable complete backups that can now be completed in hours instead of days
  • Improved storage capacity, supporting up to 33 terabytes of data (triple redundancy)
  • Added scalable capacity and performance to support future growth requirements
  • Improved storage back-up capability, enabling Digi-Key to retrieve data supporting its electronics components business and be up and running quickly in the event of a system failure or disaster

Why Oracle

When Digi-Key first began evaluating potential solutions for its enterprise data warehouse, it thought that Oracle Exadata Database Machine would be out of its price range. But, when the company priced it against traditional Dell hardware and a storage area network, it found that Oracle Exadata was the better choice from a business value, solution, and cost perspective.

“Oracle Exadata Database Machine is in a league of its own when it comes to performance. I am an Oracle person, and our Chief Information Officer is an Oracle person. We have long known that Oracle is the leader in data warehousing. When we thought about implementing a true enterprise data warehouse, we did not consider anyone else. The choice was clear,” said Miles Oustad, Manager, Database Services, Digi-Key Corporation.

Implementation Process

Digi-Key deployed its first Oracle Exadata system in early 2011, starting with a quarter rack, and within a year expanded its environment to three full racks. The company went through an extensive upfront planning process, but once Digi-Key received its equipment, it found its Oracle Exadata deployment to be very turn-key.

“When compared to deploying commodity hardware, there is no comparison. Ordinary commodity hardware would have taken us much longer to install than it took to install Oracle Exadata. We were also wowed with the performance of backups to Oracle’s Sun ZFS Storage 7420 and 7320 appliances because, in the case of a system failure or disaster, we are able to retrieve data and be up and running quickly,” Oustad said.

Within a year, Digi-Key knew it needed more capacity, so it worked with Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services to deploy three full Oracle Exadata racks—one each for development, test, and production environments.