Island in the Stream: Digicel Haiti turns to Oracle Specialized Partner Fujitsu Caribbean to implement Oracle Exadata.
by Alison Weiss
Since its launch in 2001, Digicel Group has grown to serve 12.8 million customers across its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific. Demand for mobile telecommunications services in this region is expanding quickly, because cell phones are often the primary means of communication. As a result, Digicel Haiti (Digicel) has been serving more than 4 million customers across Haiti since 2006.
When Digicel IT staff began to experience issues processing data for mission-critical daily reports, company leaders realized they required more capacity to accommodate a growing subscriber base. In 2011 they replaced a UNIX server–based data warehousing solution with Oracle Exadata, with help from Oracle Diamond Partner Fujitsu Caribbean.
Migrating to a new platform is always a big decision, but the stakes were especially high for Digicel because Oracle Exadata had only recently become available in its region. However, Digicel was willing to be a pioneer, because of support from Oracle and its long-term relationship with Fujitsu, which has achieved Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized status in Oracle Exadata.
“We’ve worked with Digicel Group since before they launched, starting in 2000–2001,” says Ian McKay, senior business development manager at Fujitsu Caribbean. “And we’ve gone with them wherever they’ve gone in the world.”
In fact, Fujitsu’s team helped Digicel implement the original UNIX server solution for data warehousing. But the load was getting to be too heavy for the servers. Nightly data collection took too much time, making it difficult to deliver business-critical daily reports in a timely manner.
“Initially, Digicel was looking to upgrade the server and the storage, but we also had them look at Oracle Exadata,” McKay remembers. “We discussed the benefits of the architecture for their particular needs, and they took our advice and decided to go with it.”
The project involved migrating Digicel’s 38 TB data warehouse to an Exadata Database Machine X2-2 Half Rack with high-capacity disks. “Digicel had a very aggressive timeline for the project, and we did encounter some challenges, but because we understand them and have worked with them for so long, we were able to meet their deadlines,” says McKay. “They had confidence in us that we would deliver what they needed.”
Digicel had a very aggressive timeline for the project. They had the confidence in us that we could deliver.
Since going live with an Oracle Exadata out-of-the-box solution, in March 2011, Digicel’s system performance has improved 55 percent overall, and the response time for generating reports is now 16 times as fast.
Additionally, Exadata is enabling the company to address strategic requirements for growth and customer retention, which was not possible before. Specifically, Digicel’s team can run antichurn reports, enabling staff to pinpoint potential customer loss and address these situations.
“In order to continue delivering the best service, best value, and best network to our subscribers, it is critical to understand their behavior,” says Marwan Salman, head of IT at Digicel. “Oracle Exadata delivered the requirements we were looking for.”
Digicel’s managers are so pleased with the Oracle Exadata solution and its ability to provide a stable foundation—and the flexibility to grow in the future—that they worked with Fujitsu to upgrade to a full-rack Exadata Database Machine in March 2012. Additionally, leadership at Digicel Jamaica purchased and implemented a half-rack Exadata Database Machine after seeing the benefits Digicel had achieved.
Alison Weiss is a regular contributor to Profit.