Towards the data architecture of the future
When DNA started the massive update of system and data capabilities in 2015, the company had four server rooms for data warehousing, and four tools for reporting and analytics. The vision was to build a unified and optimal overall information management architecture.
“The project had multiple objectives: a personalised customer experience, a single location for core data, shared KPIs for the whole company, an agile microservice architecture, a change in development culture and close collaboration across units,” says Tomi Eronen, Head of Data and Analytics.
The solution was custom-made in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The development culture changed as Scrum, Kanban and SAFe models were taught across the company.
The volume of data was increasing quickly and becoming more complex. There were constant capacity issues and only a conventional way to respond to them: add more memory. With the new vision in mind, the analytics functionality was transferred to the cloud to introduce data into the daily work of other business functions. Some still clung to the old-fashioned technology platforms.
As work expanded to new areas, scalability became a problem. There were other problems as well: development cycles were lengthy, and data updates took a while. Maintenance was also burdensome between the two worlds.
Moving to the cloud and close to business
There was no doubt that DNA needed to move on from old data solutions. The concept and pilot were executed in 2018, followed by the decision to move to the cloud.
The solution team executed the move using Snowflake data warehousing and AWS technologies. The Agile Data Engine, Solita’s agile development and operating environment, was chosen as the supporting pillar of the data warehouse, and it is now used in all the development of the Einstein platform.
The data warehousing was further refined through conceptual modelling. It allowed the team to work closely with business functions, carrying out agile development in smaller pieces.
A speedy modern data platform
Put into service piece by piece, the speed and utility of the data management solution has convinced both its developers and end users. For a publicly traded company, a data warehouse free of jams and update delays is worth its weight in gold.
“We can develop at an entirely different rate,” says Tomi Eronen. “In practice, the improvement is in multiple percentages. We previously saw development cycle turnarounds in weeks – now they happen in days.”
The speed also pleases end users. Juho Ansio, himself an active user of some reporting systems, hears positive feedback from everywhere. “Can this really be so fast?” is the question in the halls.
Progress through partnership
The shared ambition of DNA and Solita has grown throughout their decade-long journey. Built on trust, the partnership has enabled top-class operations.
“We have a long and storied history,” says Juho Ansio, who has spent 10 years at DNA.
“Everyone is proud of our accomplishments as a team. We have found solutions to problems through discussion. Our starting point is always the advantage of a cost-effective data platform instead of a focus on cost savings. The main point is to make DNA a pioneer in the use of data.”
Ansio commends Solita for taking the initiative and having a pragmatic approach. “Our cooperation has been straightforward. There is no firm supplier–customer division here.”
The move to the cloud will be concluded sooner than expected: the final server room data warehouses will be shut down in 2020. The team is also working on upgrading DNA’s master data management solutions and advancing an API-centric architecture. The journey continues.