RTBF takes Talend Data Integration on the Air

The overall flow of data integration-including operational reporting and the preparation and budgetary control-is now based on Talend Enterprise Data Integration.
A major consideration was that Talend is open source and its community of active users ensures that the tools are rapidly updated and that user concerns are taken into account. In addition, these solutions have extensive connectivity which facilitates integrating them into our information systems. Talend Data Integration's graphical interface is particularly quick to learn and use, making it easier to develop jobs or data flows and deploy them, and Talend's Java orientation is perfected suited to our developers.
Jean-Pierre Hoedenaeken, BI Manager

A highly competitive media landscape

Radio Television Belge de la Communauté Francophone (RTBF) is the public broadcasting station of the government of the French speaking part of Belgium. RTBF operates three television channels, five radio stations, and also offers on-demand services and new-generation interactive internet service. The company employs over 2,000 people and reported revenues of €250 million (US $360 million) in 2008. The Belgian media landscape is highly competitive - the entire population receives cable and thirty channels, including the major French and German channels.

Strong demand for operational reporting

Aware of the competition, RTBF recognized that they needed to better understand and analyze their activities if they were to retain their audience. The IT department - with over 30 employees - was tasked with developing a data warehouse primarily devoted to operational reporting. The company wanted a solution that could handle the associated data flow. Initially, the reporting was limited to financial management, and then gradually extended to many fields - managing production, human resources, distribution, and rights.

"Previously, reporting was embedded in the applications,” said Jean-Pierre Hoedenaeken, BI Manager at RTBF. “We had one Informix database and a number of applications developed internally. Each change involved the IT Department which, over time, was increasingly cumbersome. Moreover, we plan to replace these aging technologies - for example we recently migrated our database to Oracle. These modifications will take time and we were looking for a tool that could handle many data sources allowing us to gain autonomy.”

The company researched different alternatives and developed a pilot with a number of tools, including Oracle Warehouse Builder and Talend Open Studio for Data Integration. They chose Talend Data Integration for several reasons. “A major consideration was that Talend is open source and its community of active users ensures that the tools are rapidly updated and user concerns are taken into account. In addition, these solutions have extensive connectivity which facilitates integrating them into our information systems,” explained Jean-Pierre Hoedenaeken. “Talend Data Integration's graphical interface is particularly quick to learn and use, making it easier to develop jobs or data flows and deploy them, and Talend's Java orientation is perfected suited to our developers.”

“From a purely technical standpoint, Talend not only had all the functionality needed to integrate data, but also offered unique features, like debugging in trace mode, which is useful for testing, or the ability to generate and automatically store documents as PDF files," said Steven Ginneberge, RTBF Database Administrator. "We tested Talend Open Studio for Data Integration to get an idea of its capabilities, then chose Talend Data Integration for its additional functionality - centralized metadata management within a single repository, collaborative development options, and technical support services tailored to our business needs."

RTBF noted two other benefits. "Talend's solutions are multi-OS, which corresponds to the reality of today's businesses that operate in Windows, Linux, and Unix," continued Jean Peter Hoedenaeken. "Finally, working with a French team was also a significant advantage for us."

Thirty data sources

The new solution was production - tested during a major project - broadcasting the results of regional and European elections in 2009. The job involved recovering data from the Ministry of the Interior and its subcontractors and transforming it into a format that the television broadcast systems could access.

The test was successful and Talend Data Integration was deployed with the goal of loading the data warehouse. Thirty data sources are now connected to the tool, including financial software (general accounts payable and cash management) and the specific applications mentioned earlier. If three developers are now using the tool to develop data flows, some fifty users daily depend on the data warehouse to conduct analysis. This number will grow in the future, since the warehouse will soon include data production management.

“A new project was completed this year,” said Steven Ginneberge, “which involved building the loading stream from Hyperion Planning, our software planning and budgetary control software. Developing the flow proved to be very quick and easy. Meanwhile, maintenance and modifications are just as fast and reloading the data is almost instantaneous. That wasn't the case with other solutions we tested.”

Better collaboration between business and technical users

RTBF feels that the ease and speed of development a major benefit of the Talend tool. "We get results very quickly, which increases our response time,” said Jean-Pierre Hoedenaeken. “Instead of adopting a development methodology cascade (where some discrepancies may appear between the user's specifications and the final deliverables), we use a development spiral, resulting in very responsive development techniques. This facilitates communication between business users and developers and ultimately makes a better production computer. And, thanks to its flexible programming, Talend Data Integration integrates seamlessly with this approach."

The rapid learning curve is also an advantage. “We had three days of training,” said Steven Ginneberge, “and that gave us what we needed to use the tool properly. The course covered the most important features, but the solution is very intuitive and we were able to learn quite a bit on our own.”

RTBF particularly appreciates the contribution made by the global community of Talend users. “Such forums make information easily accessible. As the community grows, more and more topics are covered which, of course, saves users a lot of time,” concluded Jean-Pierre Hoedenaeken. “Compared to other tools on the market, the openness of Talend solutions, plus its rich connectivity, and the strength of its community, makes a real difference. We have complete confidence about future projects.”