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A popular Internet retailer needs a high-performance IT infrastructure to manage millions of Web requests each day. Overstock.com improved its ability to manage its business in real time with a Teradata system running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in a 64-bit environment.

> Overview
Overstock.com, Inc. is an online "closeout" retailer offering discount, brand-name merchandise for sale over the Internet. The company offers its customers an opportunity to shop for bargains conveniently, while offering its suppliers an alternative inventory liquidation distribution channel. STORES Magazine, the official magazine of the National Retail Federation, recently ranked Overstock second in the nation on its Hot 100 Retailers list.

> Challenge
As one of the most popular online retailers in the U.S., Overstock.com depends on a stable and high-performance infrastructure to process millions of Web requests every day. Executives need fast access to business reports 24/7 to quickly react to market changes, and the company distributes millions of e-mail marketing messages a week to drive new revenue.

Overstock.com had outgrown the customized systems used to generate reports and support its marketing campaigns. These systems lacked scalability, as well as the functionality to provide real-time information or targeted e-mail marketing. The company began searching for a new platform to better support its mission-critical applications.

> Solution
Overstock.com evaluated a variety of Linux solutions before selecting a Teradata data warehousing system running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Teradata recently certified SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the only Linux distribution for its 64-bit platform. Overstock.com is currently the largest production site for Teradata on Linux.

"We're glad Teradata selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the Linux distribution for its 64-bit environment," said Jack Garzella, director of Data Warehousing, Reporting and Analytics at Overstock.com. "When we tripled our hardware, we saw more than triple the performance which is directly attributable to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server running in a 64-bit environment."

Overstock.com runs a 28-node SUSE Linux Enterprise Server cluster, with dual CPUs and 6 GB RAM in each Intel-based server. The company runs several mission-critical systems on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server including its operational reporting, customer profitability, data mining and analytics, e-mail marketing and partner billing systems.

"Our mission-critical systems have the same uptime requirements as our Web site–they have to function 24/7 or we would be blind to our business," said Garzella. "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has been remarkably stable. The system has had maybe three minutes of downtime in the past year."

The Teradata system consolidates data from the Web site, ERP applications and Overstock.com's warehouses to provide a complete view of the business at any time. Business users can now select from more than a hundred standard or customized reports to get detailed and accurate views of the business.

"Our Teradata system running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server gives us greater visibility into our business and everything is updated hourly," said Garzella. "The granularity of data is many times greater than what it was a year ago. We are able to make faster and smarter business decisions as inventory changes throughout the day."

Consolidated and easily accessible data also helps Overstock.com drive new revenue. Marketing teams can now send personalized emails to targeted customers, based on their preferences and purchasing patterns. Overstock.com sends millions of e-mail messages several times a week in just a few hours, rather than the 12–14 hours required with its previous architecture.

Already familiar with UNIX, the Overstock.com IT staff has made a smooth transition to Linux. The company has reduced overhead and maintenance costs, and a small team of three can now maintain core mission-critical applications. Having a common Linux skill set has also expanded the number of support resources within the company and reduced the need for system experts.

> Results
Running a Teradata system on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in a 64-bit environment has improved Overstock.com's ability to manage its business in real time, while reducing overall maintenance and support costs.

The new system provides faster access to real-time data, creating reports in seconds, rather than hours, as well as more accurate business information. Overstock.com marketing teams can now distribute millions of personalized e-mails 85 percent faster.

"We would have needed 4–5 databases to do what we can do today, as well as three times the staff," said Garzella. "The performance and stability of our Teradata system on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server exceeded our expectations. I expect we could do ten times the volume of queries and reports with no operational stress." red N

Case Summary

Challenge

  • Reduce costs of managing outdated systems
  • Improve access to real-time business reports
  • Minimize downtime

Solution

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

Results

  • Increased performance with a 64-bit environment
  • Improved decision-making capabilities with ability to generate real-time reports in seconds, rather than hours
  • Reduced operational downtime to three minutes in first year

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