Coeo has helped Sundio, one of the Netherlands’ leading travel agencies, to improve performance of its online reservation system by implementing a newer version of SQL Server. Implementing this new Microsoft data management solution has helped speed up searches and transactions. It has also improved performance and availability and built a platform for rapid business growth.
- Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise
- Windows Server Enterprise
- AlwaysOn Availability Groups and Failover Clustering
- Fusion-io ioDrive
- HP ProLiant DL580 G5 servers
- HP ProLiant BL680c G7 server
- More scalability and stability across the entire platform.
- The capacity to serve higher volumes of customers and experience higher profit margins as a result
- Support for the expansion of the business model over the next two years
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Learning & understanding
Sunweb Group is a leading tour operator in the Netherlands, selling trips to holiday destinations throughout Europe. One of the first operators to implement an online reservation system in 2002, Sunweb’s competitive advantage was eroded as other companies also started selling through websites. Europe’s highly competitive marketplace made it easy for newcomers to penetrate the market and, as competition increased, Sunweb looked for ways to boost performance and improve service to customers.
With a high volume of sales critical to their success, Sunweb needed to take full advantage of the peak booking seasons which occur twice annually for summer holidays and winter sports vacations. For those few weeks, sales jump from approximately €400k to €3.8 million per day. Any delay can be costly.
As Bas Bruijninckx, IT Manager at Sunweb Group says, “If customers don’t get a response in a couple of seconds they will book elsewhere.”
“With the SQL Server Always On feature, we can offload less critical workloads and make more resources available to our customers during peak reservation periods.”
“Coeo only do SQL – their expertise and depth of knowledge on the subject means that the total environment is tuned to the optimum.” Bas Bruijninckx, IT Manager – Sunweb Group.
Achieving and maintaining optimum performance during their peak seasons was one challenge. In addition, the company was expanding operations in eight European countries. With plans to double in size within two years, the company needed a more scalable infrastructure.
Other areas of improvement had been identified. For example, marketing teams would run reports on the same servers used for online transaction processing (OTLP), resulting in transactions often locking when customers ran searches. In the past, Sunweb Group added servers to support peak sale periods. Instead the company wanted to improve performance and support growth by optimising its data management solution.
Coeo had already helped Sundio Group migrate from an older version of SQL Server to a newer one and also remotely manages the Sunweb Group SQL Server infrastructure from London, so it was the obvious choice to help achieve this. As Bruijninckx comments: “We were looking for a very knowledgeable partner and Coeo really knows how to tune the total environment to the optimum.”
Sunweb became an early adopter of Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition and worked with Coeo to test SQL Server with Windows Server Enterprise Edition.
The solution was put into production four months later. The new infrastructure includes four HP ProLiant DL580 G5 servers that are used for customer searches and four HP ProLiant BL690c G7 servers that process reservations. Changes are published to the front-end search servers through transactional replication. The company manages approximately 6.5 terabytes of data.
To reduce latency, a storage area network has been replaced with a with a Fusion-io ioDrive installed on front-end servers. Optimised for SQL Server, the Fusion-io modules improve performance by storing active data closer to the CPU.
The optimised data management platform includes the Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn feature which is typically used as part of a disaster-recovery and high availability solution. However, Sunweb Group uses the AlwaysOn Availability Groups capability to improve performance of its entire infrastructure. By offloading a workload to a secondary server, which the marketing team uses for reports, performance bottlenecks on the frontline OLTP servers are reduced. In addition, automatic failover with AlwaysOn Failover Clustering helps ensure availability and reliability.
“Rather than developing things and waiting for issues to arise in production, Coeo’s team already start to be involved in the development process. Together we call this process ‘performance engineering’.”
- Bas Bruijninckx, IT Manager - Sunweb Group
Improved performance and scalability has meant Sunweb can take full advantage of sales periods and boost support for its rapidly growing business.
Sunweb Group can now look ahead with confidence when it comes to handling its busiest booking seasons. It expects to serve a higher volume of customers and improve margins as a result. When sales skyrocket, Sunweb can take full advantage of these daily revenue spikes. Bruijninckx says “With the SQL Server AlwaysOn feature, we can offload less critical workloads and make more resources available to our customers during peak reservation periods.
Sunweb has been impressed with the level of commitment, support and service they have received from Coeo. “The lengths they go to deliver are tremendous”, comments Bruijninckx. With one of Coeo’s consultants on site once a month, a lot of time is spent with Sunweb’s developers and programmers to really take advantage of the capabilities and features of SQL and get the best performance out of the system already in the development process. “Rather than developing things and waiting for issues to arise in production, Coeo’s team already start to be involved in the development process. Together we call this process ‘performance engineering ’, says Bruijninckx.
With greater stability and scalability across the whole platform, Bruijninckx says “we rely less on hardware redundancy and more on the high level of availability that we get with SQL Server.” And Sunweb believes that the platform is the best choice for supporting its ambitious growth targets which include expanding its business model in Europe doubling in size over the next two years. “The Microsoft platform with SQL Server supports us by enabling us to scale up and out”, says Bruijninckx.
Since completing the project there have been fewer issues around the performance of replicated data and the t:+44 (0)20 3051 3595 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.coeo.com For more information please contact us: Helping our Clients Predict their Future company now looks forward to taking advantage of more capabilities in SQL Server. “Microsoft technology supports us so that we can do the business we need to do. It provides us with the flexibility, performance and functionality required to achieve our goals.
But Coeo has made the technology work for us,” says Bruijninckx. “They’re steering the project with Microsoft and have taken care of a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of installations, migrations, restores and updates of the database which has greatly reduced the amount of effort for us.”
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