The Talend solution facilitates maintenance: the flows are centralized, which simplifies their reuse and provides extended visibility. This centralization also increases security, while accelerating operation monitoring.Benoît Viaud, Business Intelligence Specialist
The General Council of Gironde
The General Council of Gironde (CG 33) is a local government body that handles various matters, including health and social action, school construction and maintenance, non-urban and school transportation, infrastructure (roads and ports), culture (libraries and department archives), and facilities in rural areas.
Gironde is the largest department of metropolitan France covering 10,750 square kilometers and has about 1.4 million inhabitants. Bordeaux, with close to 220,000 inhabitants, is the largest of the department's 543 municipalities. The 2nd largest employer in Gironde, CG 33 has 6,000 employees and a budget of 1.4 billion euros to carry out its operations.
A business intelligence system to manage department operations
As the responsibilities of the local authorities continue to expand – for example, in the context of decentralization, these authorities recently took over road management and are increasingly involved in the social lives of citizens, particularly via aid distribution, such as the Personal Autonomy Allowance (PAA) or the Minimum Insertion Income (RMI) – citizens demand more transparency and efficiency. The General Council of Gironde initiated the beginnings of an analytical process in the mid-2000s, which was based on a Business Objects solution linked to financial management, HRM and social management software. To move up a gear, CG 33 hired a business intelligence specialist, Benoît Viaud, with the primary task of equipping and industrializing its business intelligence process.
“My first task was to select a BI solution, which also involved selecting an integration solution that allowed the loading of a dedicated warehouse while centralizing the flows,” reflects Benoît Viaud, Business Intelligence Project Manager for the General Council of Gironde. “Talend Open Studio for Data Integration matched our expectations. This free software allowed us to quickly develop a prototype without launching a procurement process. Additionally, it offered many ready-to-use connectors, which saved us a considerable amount of time during development. Since it is very easy to learn, Talend's solution enabled us to quickly validate our prototype. Following the acquisition of our business intelligence solution (Business Objects XI), we decided to keep the Talend solution rather than buying a commercial ETL product because it allowed us to easily capitalize on already developed flows. Also, we decided to migrate to Talend Data Integration to benefit from a shared repository and facilitate teamwork.”
CG 33 already used a flow scheduler (Skematics) to schedule batch processing backups, flow management and supervision and Talend Data Integration was integrated with this solution. “Even though Talend's solution offer this feature, we decided to keep our scheduler and the integration of Talend Data Integration with it was quick and easy,” adds Benoît Viaud.
LDAP directory to synchronize business data and BI flows to improve decisions
In addition to the BI project, CG 33 used Talend Data Integration to collect business data from 4 applications, then consolidate the data in an internal staff metadirectory (LDAP). This data originates from the HRM software (Pleiade), the Lotus directory, an LDAP telephony base and real estate holding management software. The consolidated directory can now be accessed by any CG 33 employee and contains information on their colleagues, their department affiliation, their location or even photos and access maps.
The business domains integrated in the BI project today revolve around financial data, the Directorate of Youth and Sports and will soon include the social actions of CG 33. Talend Enterprie Data Integration allows the collection of data from business applications to monitor, for example, the instruction process for applying for grants or Personal Autonomy Allowances (PAA).
“The Data Warehouse – which enables you to reorganize the business data to return to end users – currently contains about 10 GB of data. This volume will increase steadily, particularly due to the addition of new domains in the future,” explains Benoît Viaud. “The data comes from heterogeneous systems - Oracle and LDAP bases, internal or external flat files, etc. - and is loaded into a single database, the ODS (Operational Data Staging), so as to not call upon the production base to execute data transformations. Interapplication flows also allow the updating of the reference data contained in certain business applications (i.e. an employee registration number).”
Flow centralization, security, user satisfaction
Today, Talend Data Integration is used to centralize all the new data flows of the General Council. “The Talend solution facilitates maintenance: the flows are centralized, which simplifies their reuse and provides extended visibility. This centralization also increases security, while accelerating operation monitoring,” specifies Benoît Viaud. “In addition, we created a connection pool which enables us to automatically share database connections and environment variables. This gives us valuable gains in productivity and reliability. Any change is automatically reflected in all of our Talend jobs, thanks to the shared repository. We can spend more time with the users to precisely identify their needs and refine our developments.”
After taking over existing flows and starting new developments, the user feedback has been extremely positive. “The business management teams responsible for information consolidation appreciate the benefits offered by the implementation of the Business Objects - Talend duo, particularly how much time they save in relation to using Excel spreadsheets. We plan to automate the distribution of information to elected officials to help them improve their decisions, for example through the creation of dashboards that are customized according to their needs,” concludes Benoît Viaud. “In the near future, we plan on increasing our data warehouse loading flows to enhance our BI system. Confronted with this increase of sources and flows, we had to hire a project manager completely dedicated to managing and monitoring reference data. Finally, we will develop Web Services which will ensure that data from some external partners is accessible and up to date. With Talend Data Integration, we are confident in easily fulfilling these goals.”