Above and beyond
Teradata Managed Services helps optimize customer data warehouse environments.
To survive in a challenging and complex global economy, service providers need to do more than perform minimally contracted functions; they need to deliver added value through process improvement and service innovation. Indeed, going above and beyond the call of duty is nothing new to Teradata Professional Services, and one of its offerings typifies this: Teradata Managed Services.
This service provides highly skilled, experienced database administrators (DBAs), system administrators (SAs) and data integration and business intelligence (BI) consultants to help ensure smooth and predictable operations in accordance with contracted service levels. With Teradata Managed Services, the customer still owns the business asset (ie. the Teradata platform and associated software and applications) as well as overall IT processes and usage. However, Teradata assumes responsibility for managing the data warehouse environment.
Beyond the norm
Consider some typical operational tasks delivered by Teradata Managed Services:
Every DBA knows that technology issues, process breakdowns and human error can affect daily operations. When it comes to data integration processes, proper monitoring is key. Without it, batch jobs may break down and problems remain undetected for hours. Additionally, batch windows may increase over time, and extract, transform and load (ETL) streams may break time constraints and fail data quality tests, thereby causing delays.
At a Central European telecommunications company, Teradata Managed Services DBAs monitor the progress of data loaded into the data warehouse based on service level agreements (SLAs). They are responsible for administering data quality tests, performing incident triage and addressing failed loads with the customer’s internal data warehouse team. In addition, they provide corrective and preventive maintenance for the load and transformation processes, ensuring they run as intended.
Database management is another critical service provided by Teradata Managed Services team members. They can perform database and system administration functions like space management and security administration. They act as gatekeepers for database object releases, deploying data structures and access rights to pre-production, production and disaster-recovery environments.
Teradata Managed Services team members also monitor and troubleshoot database and system performance by conducting system health checks. One example is the monitoring of canary query response times to proactively detect system heartbeat issues and/or degraded system response. Also, with the help of pre-installed performance macros, the team can identify multiple factors affecting performance, including:
- Suspect queries—inefficient join plans, heavy central processing unit (CPU) usage, full-table scans, etc.
- Top CPU users and trend analysis
- Average and maximum access module processor (AMP) worker task (AWT) usage
- Parallel efficiency
In addition to day-to-day core database support, Teradata Managed Services can monitor daily, weekly and monthly systems backup and recovery processes. Scheduling requests between backups and loads, reducing conflicts, and ensuring that backups are completed in specified windows of time are all part of ensuring smooth data warehouse operations.
Analytical application management
Because each organization’s environment is different, Teradata Managed Services consultants provide BI application support for major third-party tools, in addition to supporting Teradata’s own customer relationship management and demand chain management applications. These capabilities go beyond simple monitoring and support. For some firms, these consultants act as marketing enablers by using Teradata Relationship Manager and BI tools to assist with:
- Customer segmentation exercises
- Development of marketing campaigns
- Monitoring campaigns for completion
- Reporting on successful marketing outcomes
- Publish ad hoc reports for business users
To provide effective support and to make improvements, Teradata Managed Services consultants must first understand and document current operational procedures and a client’s data warehouse environment. This is accomplished by creating a run-book—a manual in which operational and technical processes, procedures and guidelines are jointly developed with the customer during service transition. A run-book covers details on incident management, configuration, release, change control, communication and escalation processes. It may also include reporting processes and templates, SLA measurement and monitoring, alert management, shift schedules, and a contact list.
More than documenting processes, a run-book captures lessons learned from years of implementing data warehouses. It features best practices for routine tasks, timing and frequency of services delivered, and the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in Teradata Managed Services.
Managing the data warehouse environment is only the beginning. Teradata Managed Services can also:
- Return processing power to its customers’ systems
- Reclaim valuable disk space through compression techniques
- Mentor users on data warehousing best practices
- Participate in life cycle maintenance for critical applications
Proactive performance management
In data warehouses with immense query volumes—sometimes millions a day—it is often difficult to identify heavy usage patterns. So Teradata Managed Services DBAs deliver ongoing observation of system metrics, such as top CPU-consuming queries and those that don’t take advantage of parallelism. In this way, they can monitor queries and suggest ways to tune or optimize them for better performance.
Teradata Managed Services consultants are well versed in the latest techniques for maximizing performance. In addition to query tuning, they can recommend indexing options to enable efficiency, thereby saving I/O and CPU time and making resources available for other work. Partitioned primary indexes (PPIs), secondary indexes and aggregate/sparse join indexes are also options they consider to help reduce resource consumption and make queries more efficient.
In addition to query optimization, data compression can dramatically improve data warehouse performance. Compression—storing more data in the same amount of disk space—maximizes data accessibility while minimizing costs. Because multiple values usually comprise the highest percentage of all values in a column, multi-value compression (MVC) condenses those values, optimizing disk space.
Teradata Managed Services has access to many MVC scripts, including a tool that automates analysis based on Teradata’s best practices for compression. This tool analyzes all tables based on pre-defined rules and recommends potential space savings on selected tables. It then provides the definition for optimized tables or directly creates them.
While not an SLA requirement, Teradata Managed Services consultants regularly mentor and educate users on how to extract business value from their data warehouse investment. Mentoring could be something as simple as answering questions about database features or explaining how to write better queries.
In addition, Teradata Managed Services DBAs often consult client organization’s internal development groups about query optimization to ensure that applications utilize the data warehouse properly. These DBAs also work closely with business units—helping them understand the data that is available to answer their questions.
Maintaining critical applications
At many organizations, IT managers have adopted integrated maintenance processes to sustain critical applications. Because the enterprise data warehouse is a central repository from which very important applications draw data, performance tuning and data quality management take on added importance.
A U.S. life sciences company, for example, decided to migrate from a complex Oracle environment to a Teradata environment. Consultants from Teradata Managed Services were engaged from day one to manage the new database and its ETL workloads 24x7. As part of the migration, the consultants provided database maintenance, code enhancements, ongoing fixes and minor development. Now the company has a single vendor, Teradata, responsible for data warehouse processes from routine operations to maintenance. Thus, the Teradata team is an integral part of the firm’s application life cycle processes and helps keep critical applications driving business value.
Saving processing power through query tuning and database management helps IT managers do more with less—but Teradata Managed Services also adds intangible value.
One of those intangible benefits is peace of mind—something that’s particularly difficult to quantify. However, trusting that night-shift operators (Teradata Managed Services) will monitor workloads and fix any issues proactively is invaluable to an organization. And knowing that data warehouse operations are in good hands lets Teradata customers breathe easier.
For many of these customers, Teradata Managed Services allows their employees to balance home and work responsibilities more effectively as weekends become truly days off and holidays are not spent worrying about the production environment. All the while, Teradata Managed Services ensures data warehouse operations run as intended.
Another benefit is the re-prioritization of IT resources. When a Teradata team of consultants and DBAs are responsible for daily data warehouse operations, a customer’s IT staff can focus on high-value activities, such as consolidating data marts or developing new applications for business users.
Dollars and sense
When IT resources are scarce, it’s not enough for service providers to merely meet contractual requirements. In addition to keeping a careful eye on its customers’ data warehouse operations, Teradata Managed Services enables them to achieve better results by delivering documented processes, proactive performance optimization, mentoring and maintenance of critical life cycle applications. And while intangibles are hard to quantify, a few safeguards can ensure a good night’s sleep.