RBS picks Microsoft SQL Server 2012 PDW solution in a bid to increase efficiency

By Sooraj Shah
13 Mar 2014 View Comments

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has adopted Microsoft's SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) solution in a bid to improve performance and customer services.

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The firm's customer services group chief analytics officer, Alan Grogan, told Computing that the bank was looking for a solution because "the world is speeding up at a pace that organisations are struggling with".

"Customers are generating a digital signature; they are giving you more information on them, and there is a need for a flexible, scalable and more strategic analytics infrastructure to meet our ever-expanding analytics needs," he said.

Grogan said he wanted a highly scalable system so he could meet any demands placed on him by his chief executive or managing directors.

"The last thing I want to say is ‘sorry you can't do it', so that was stressful. Business at RBS is phenomenally data-led now, so we make all our decisions based upon facts. We base all those facts on customer and market data, and the more data you have the more empirical your response is," he said.

Initially, Grogan's team attempted to work with existing database installations, but they found it frustrating to load up to 50TB of data from various sources and have to wait hours for a query to finish.

The bank looked at what its competitors and Fortune 500 companies were investing in and narrowed the choice to two specific technologies.

One was Microsoft's SQL Server 2012 PDW, and the other was a different solution from another of RBS's existing suppliers that Grogan said he could not name.

"It was increasingly difficult to get the other company to go forward with a proof of concept (POC), I don't know why that was," he said.

The cost was also important; Grogan claimed that he is yet to find a solution - outside of the cloud - that is as competitively priced as SQL Server 2012 PDW.

"We had some hard negotiations with Microsoft on the initial price, but even without that, they were coming in at half the price of the incumbent, and definitely less than the other vendor we looked at," said Grogan.

"Every penny in RBS is scrutinised in terms of investment, and a lot of existing vendors are being assessed as the bank looks to strategically set its technology up for the future," he said.

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