Out of all of the providers that met our requirements profile, the Talend solution offered the most attractive price/performance ratio. Today, we can consolidate data for our reports every day and are still much faster than before. This has opened up a host of new opportunities for us.Reiko Paerschke, BI Team Leader at Tele Columbus
The Tele Columbus Group is a successful multimedia and telecommunications provider. Founded in 1985, it is now one of the largest cable network operators in Germany, providing approximately 1.7 million households with TV, digital program packages, Internet access and telephony via a high-performance broadband cable infrastructure. With its national reach and strong regional focus, Tele Columbus also works with companies in the housing sector.
Tele Columbus is expanding its network within a hybrid fiberglass structure to meet evolving market demands, using the most up-to-date telecommunications standard DOCSIS 3.0 to provide extremely fast Internet connections enabling up to several hundred megabits per second. The company’s broadband cable network supports the full spectrum of innovative media applications – from analog, digital and high-resolution TV, through high-speed Internet and telephony to telemetry services, tenant portals and interactive services.
However, the TV and Internet market is highly competitive. Companies must know their customers and how they behave in order to offer them the products that they need. Tele Columbus uses Talend integration technology to master its big data challenges, populate its data warehouse and produce reports almost in real time – all of which helps Tele Columbus stay one step ahead of the competition.
“We serve both the consumer and housing markets, where apartments are increasingly being offered ready with cable TV and, increasingly, TV and Internet packages,” explains Dr. Christian Hohn, Head of IT Operations at Tele Columbus. “Student dorms, for example, often offer accommodation with all telecommunications services already installed. But competition is intense in both the consumer and housing sectors and Tele Columbus has to contend with other major industry players such as Kabel Deutschland and Deutsche Telekom. The only way to win is to offer lower prices and the best solutions,” adds Dr. Hohn.
Technology and price are not everything, however. To thrive in this competitive landscape, companies need to bundle the right services and ensure they are addressing their customers’ individual needs. And to do this, they need a business intelligence (BI) platform that intelligently analyzes existing data. With almost two million satisfied customers, Tele Columbus has a proven and successful track record. “However, it’s not just a question of maintaining our current market position. We also want to expand our customer base. And to do that, we need a modern data warehouse that can be accessed by our BI platform,” outlines Reiko Paerschke, BI Team Leader at Tele Columbus. “Our previous data warehouse was not able to keep pace with our requirements.”
This was partly due to the data integration solutions in place at Tele Columbus. Gathering data from different sources took such a long time that the data warehouse could only be consolidated once a month. “This data formed the basis for our evaluations and reports. In the worst case, this could have resulted in incorrect analyses and, subsequently, incorrect business decisions,” continues Reiko Paerschke. The old solution also lacked a number of key functions. In mid-2010, the IT team decided to switch to a new data integration solution that would lay the foundation for a modern data warehouse platform.
Dr. Christian Hohn and his team were facing a complex challenge. They needed a modern business intelligence software capable of interfacing with the new data warehouse and allowing employees to create individual self-service reports. It would have to populate the warehouse with data from a diverse mix of sources, seamlessly incorporating systems such as DB2, SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. The new data integration solution would also have to be capable of processing big data. “We have almost two million customer datasets and around ten different items for each customer. In all, that’s 20 million datasets that need to be transferred to the data warehouse – ideally on a daily basis,” describes Dr. Christian Hohn.
In the search of a suitable data integration solution, Tele Columbus used also used Magic Quadrants from the research company Gartner. “Out of all of the providers that met our requirements profile, the Talend solution offered the most attractive price/performance ratio,” recalls Reiko Paerschke. To find out more, the company downloaded the open-source version of Talend Open Studio for Data Integration from the Internet. Two employees then started a free proof-of-concept trial. “We were very impressed by the solution. We liked its functions and how it performed and were also impressed by the additional software and discussion forums in the Talend community. The toolkit downloaded covered 90 percent of our needs,” elaborates Reiko Paerschke. The company soon decided to switch to Talend Data Integration, choosing additional functions and professional support.
The new all-round BI solution has been in place since the start of 2014. The data warehouse is based on IBM DB2. As the service provider, Talend looks after data integration, data quality and automation. “Every day, Talend loads data from the different sources,” explains Reiko Paerschke. “This data is then processed in line with our database model.” While this is happening, Talend checks the quality of the data by identifying and resolving any errors. Since its introduction, Talend has been creating the tables for the BI platform on a daily basis. This is a huge leap forward for the company. The previous solution was only able to provide new data once a month.
The Tele Columbus team is impressed by the solution’s low operating costs and large number of connectors. Ease of use is a further highlight for the company. “Everything is clearly visualized and intuitively designed. Our developers can use the graphic user interface to create new jobs fast and without any programming,” enthuses Dr. Christian Hohn.
The ability to create up-to-date, high quality reports is the most important factor for the company, however. “Daily reports and on-demand access BI services is a huge bonus for us,” explains Dr. Hohn. Employees can already access sixty different ready-made reports via the new self-service BI portal and carry out tailored analyses using a variety of different parameters. “Previously, we had to submit a request to have each report adapted individually. This took a lot of time and effort,” recalls Reiko Paerschke. “Now, Talend starts automatically at one o’clock in the morning. By seven a.m., all data has been transferred to the data warehouse and the reports are ready for us to evaluate.”
Tele Columbus also uses Talend to create and distribute individual reports directly. To do this, the company uses the solution to aggregate, process and send data directly to sales and management teams via the data warehouse. This information comes as a CSV file and can be used to quickly create tables in the company’s corporate design. This function has already generated a lot of positive feedback from employees.
“Today, we can consolidate data for our reports every day and are still much faster than before,” summarizes Reiko Paerschke. “This has opened up a host of new opportunities for us. For example, we can now generate historical data to identify which data was consolidated, when and where it came from. We can use this information to make comparisons and keep records.” Dr. Christian Hohn also believes that the switch to Talend has more than paid off. “The solution is totally stable and delivers outstanding performance. It has been able to effortlessly handle everything thus far. The almost limitless scalability is a further plus for us. We are perfectly positioned for future growth thanks to Talend and this new environment.”