Authored by: Michael Diehr
Each week, more than 245 million customers visit Walmart’s nearly 11,000 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart captures an immense amount of data about its business.
We realized that there was tremendous potential value in our data and wanted to unlock data-driven innovation throughout the company. However, our existing data warehouse was limited by its legacy infrastructure, reducing its value to our people. A few of the crucial limitations were a lack of speed, flexibility and timeliness.
Our response was to design a thoroughly modern data warehouse which would provide near real-time data, unlimited granularity, at least three years of company data, and the ability to support thousands of concurrent users. Speed was a special concern. We decided that no query, no matter how complex, should only about eight seconds to complete. We called it the Data Café.
To accomplish this, we realized the SAP HANA platform was great fit for us. Not only can it handle our 200 billion rows of data, it can also insert our hourly updates to the system at up to three million rows per minute. (With no cubes or data structures to worry about, the data is immediately available for analysis.) Perhaps most importantly, it allows users to build any query and get an immediate response. In fact, 94% of queries complete in less than two seconds.
With the Data Café, Walmart is now putting information at the fingertips of thousands of employees, unlocking a world of data-driven innovation across the company. For example, with near real-time data and self-service queries, our merchandising teams can spot trends or opportunities and take advantage of them within a few hours.