High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level

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1 89 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor New York, NY High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level IBM FlashSystem and IBM Tealeaf

2 Printed in the United States of America Copyright 2014 Edison Group, Inc. New York. Edison Group offers no warranty either expressed or implied on the information contained herein and shall be held harmless for errors resulting from its use. All products are trademarks of their respective owners. First Publication: April, 2014 Produced by: Chris M. Evans, Senior Analyst; Manny Frishberg, Editor; Barry Cohen, Editor-in- Chief

3 Table of Contents Customer Analytics and the Role of Flash... 1 Analytics-Optimized User Experience... 2 Challenges of High Velocity Analytics... 3 Improving the User Experience with FlashSystem... 4 Analytics that Drive Real Value... 5 The Result: Faster Insight... 6

4 Customer Analytics and the Role of Flash The rate of growth in digital and especially mobile commerce is astounding. It is estimated that by 2016, 50% of all retail dollars spent in the United States will in some form be influenced digitally. Further, by 2017, 24% of overall ecommerce revenues will be transacted through mobile devices. This huge shift in the retailing landscape brings with it new challenges as well as opportunities. Around 63% of all adults online are less likely to buy from a company via other channels if they experience problems with a mobile transaction. Approximately 88% of web buyers abandon items in their online shopping cart before completing their transaction. Around 75% of consumers move to another, sometimes more costly channel when online customer service fails. The growing dependence on online purchases and the relationship to other market channels means businesses must ensure customers receive the optimum interactive experience through their browser and mobile devices. Technologies such as IBM s Tealeaf suite of Customer Experience Management tools enable businesses to collect and analyze browser and mobile data with a focus on improving and delivering the best possible experience for their customers. Monitoring hundreds or thousands of concurrent web transactions produces large volumes of complex data. Then performing high-velocity analysis on the collected data generates I/O-intensive processing streams that can be accelerated through the use of low latency, high throughput storage solutions. IBM FlashSystem is a storage array that uses flash to deliver extreme performance at very low latency through IBM s MicroLatency technology. When FlashSystem is used in conjunction with IBM Tealeaf, the combination produces a highly scalable data ingest and access solution, accelerating IBM Tealeaf analytics and providing business value by delivering faster, more responsive analysis and replay results. When the speed of response is critical, IBM Tealeaf and FlashSystem working together provide the capability to proactively meet customer needs and deliver the best possible customer experience. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 1

5 Analytics-Optimized User Experience It is clear that the best possible interactive experience is critical to ensure visitors become and remain customers. To achieve the goal of providing the best customer experience, a deep understanding of how customers interact with web services is required, plus the ability to derive insight from customer activity analytics and proactively use these insights. IBM Tealeaf provides businesses with visibility and insight into customers online experiences as they use and interact with web and mobile services. IBM Tealeaf CX is a suite of products that track, store, analyze and replay customer website interactions in order to proactively identify and resolve hidden issues that can impact the way in which customers use online services. However, IBM Tealeaf is not just about resolving problems; it also provides insight into customer behavior and usage patterns that can predict future intent, and enable the development and deployment of optimum online experiences. IBM Tealeaf is comprised of a number of modules that can track customer interactions on both traditional browsers and mobile devices. The IBM Tealeaf software captures information through sniffing network data and decoding the contents. This includes data that allows IBM Tealeaf to build up a picture of user interactions with the website, page-by-page. As it monitors activity, IBM Tealeaf stores performance metrics such as page generation times and page cancellations. Captured information is first filtered and normalized before being saved in the IBM Tealeaf data store, where it can be analyzed and used to replay and examine customer behavior. The pre-processing stage allows IBM Tealeaf to collect data from multiple disparate systems and bring it together into one location for subsequent analysis. Then, as information ages, IBM Tealeaf automatically archives data based on user-defined policy rules. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 2

6 Challenges of High Velocity Analytics Analytics solutions like IBM Tealeaf create intense workloads for the compute and storage systems on which they are deployed. First, analytics systems acquire data. In the case of IBM Tealeaf, this could be multiple disparate data sources, but the biggest source of data is directly collected from the interaction of users on a customer's website. Ingesting information from any individual web session creates a stream of data being written to a database. The volume of web-user information is driven both by the granularity of data collected and by the activity level of the user session being monitored and analyzed. As the number of sessions tracked increases and as more data is collected per session, the volume of data can negatively impact a typical spinning disk-based storage system because it creates a large number of small block random I/O operations. Hard disk drives are good at acquiring single streams of data but not as good at small block random I/O. To increase the usefulness of collected online user information, IBM Tealeaf is, in realtime, indexing and processing the data. Within the IBM Tealeaf solution, approximately 40% of the disk space consumed consists of analytics data and creation of this metadata generates I/O traffic that is highly random in nature. In addition to data gathered from monitoring web sessions, IBM Tealeaf enables customers to bring in multiple data sources. Ingesting data from these disparate sources, while simultaneously capturing web session data, further complicates the workload for traditional storage. The final variable in IBM Tealeaf performance is driven by the number of concurrent analysts monitoring web sessions and interacting with customers to gather usage characteristics information and report on broader trends. The monitoring and analysis of the data creates more complex loads on the system, which is already quite busy handling data ingest. When applications with these workload characteristics hit peak operating periods, hard disk drives may not offer the most effective storage solution. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 3

7 Improving the User Experience with FlashSystem IBM FlashSystem incorporates IBM MicroLatency technology, Macro Efficiency and Enterprise Reliability to deliver extreme performance far exceeding that of disk systems. IBM Tealeaf realizes significant benefits in performance through deployment on FlashSystem storage, which translates directly into business benefits. Before the widespread availability of flash storage, the only solution to the complex analytics performance challenges noted above was to array massive quantities of disk drives (disproportionate to the capacity required) in order to derive the tiny bit of incremental I/O available from each additional drive. All-flash arrays, like IBM FlashSystem, are perfectly suited to the mixed workload created by IBM Tealeaf. Two key features of FlashSystem are particularly important to flash performance. FlashSystem is exceptionally good at handling small block or large block random I/O operations. This is a fundamental characteristic of flash-based storage that differentiates it from spinning hard disks. In addition, FlashSystem offers extreme performance, meaning that as I/O operations increase there is high performance scalability. In the case of IBM Tealeaf, as data ingest rates increase and as the number of analysts increase, FlashSystem maintains the exceptional responsiveness IBM Tealeaf users have come to expect from the application. This performance scalability means that an IBM Tealeaf customer can monitor more web sessions simultaneously, ingest data from more sources in real-time, support more concurrent analysts and interact more frequently with customers. These features enable IBM Tealeaf customers to achieve even higher levels of online user satisfaction. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 4

8 Analytics that Drive Real Value FlashSystem and IBM Tealeaf complement each other. The low latency characteristics of FlashSystem significantly reduce the time taken to ingest information, allowing more data to be collected and processed in near real-time. This benefit is especially important in large and complex ecommerce systems that seek to deliver a rich user experience. Once data has been collected, using FlashSystem to store the data repository enables more concurrent query and analysis tasks to run in parallel, improving response time to analysts, enabling real-time analysis of customer issues and delivering an overall better customer experience. After deployment of FlashSystem, customer representatives are able to walk through website issues with customers while taking advantage of even faster, richer customer experience analytics, leading to more opportunities for maintaining a strong customer relationship. IBM has performed testing of IBM Tealeaf with FlashSystem and traditional disk storage in order to quantify the performance improvements from using all-flash storage. The combination of IBM Tealeaf and FlashSystem achieved a significant performance improvement in numbers of pages analyzed per second. IBM TeaLeaf Chief Technology Officer, Robert Wenig, noted; We easily got 2X the throughput and the system, despite the load, was even more responsive for query performance. The beauty of the IBM FlashSystem is tremendous performance with no code changes. This is a gift. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 5

9 The Result: Faster Insight IBM Tealeaf allows businesses to monitor, manage and enhance active online customer experiences. At the same time, through the analysis and replay of customer experience data, it creates opportunities for developing and implementing new channels to market. IBM Tealeaf data collection and analysis is highly I/O intensive and performance is I/O latency sensitive. FlashSystem is able to meet the demands of IBM Tealeaf by delivering extreme I/O performance with low latency response times. Utilizing FlashSystem accelerates IBM Tealeaf s ability to analyze data and produce results at high velocity. The result is more insight into customer interactions and the proven business benefit that comes from a better customer experience. Edison: High Velocity Analytics Take the Customer Experience to the Next Level Page 6

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