Grant Street Group and Exasol

A partnership that delivers real results

Grant Street Group specializes in cloud-based government solutions for tax collection, e-payments, and auctions. Grant Street applications handle the billing, collection, and distribution of taxes as well as payment processing and online auctions of financial and legal instruments.


Challenges

Grant Street analyzes enormous volume of data and needed to avoid approaching a performance ceiling

Solutions

Grant Street Group connects Exasol to two of its core products, TaxSys®and PaymentExpress® while Exasol also serves as the back-end database for Vision™ and VisionPro™

Benefits

Exasol has improved reporting times by factor of 12

Exasol has allowed us to exponentially decrease our reporting times and the functionality of the Loading...in-memory columnar database has opened up a whole range of new possibilities for data leverage. Our clients are happy and so are we.

Peter Kioko Software Developer
$ 0 Bil.

in e-payments are processed annually using PaymentExpress®

0 day

to complete the installation of Exasol software.

0 MB/sec

uploaded into the Exasol warehouse at peak times

0 x

adopting Exasol as Grant Street‘s warehouse database vendor increased reporting speeds by a factor of 12

Background

Nearly two-thirds of all property taxes in the State of Florida ($21 billion) are collected using TaxSys®, the company’s fully-hosted tax billing and collection solution. One-third of online vehicle and vessel registration renewals in the state are processed using its RenewExpress software. PaymentExpress®, its secure e-payments service, processes over $10 billion in credit card and e-check transactions annually.

Grant Street is also the world’s largest internet auctioneer. To date, its platforms have been used to conduct online auctions of bonds, notes, tax certificates, and other financial and legal instruments for more than 6,800 government and financial entities, with a value exceeding $12 trillion.

Case study background details

Grant Street turned to Exasol for its database management services and drastically improved reporting times, helping to ensure that it continues advancing the industry standard when it comes to delivering quality government software.

  • Industry Government Software
  • Application BI Acceleration
  • Database Exasol
  • BI Tool Microstrategy
Case study background details

The journey

You can use our analytics database with our private cloud, any public cloud, on premises – or as part of a hybrid deployment.

The challenge

Grant Street’s government clients depend on real-time reporting to gather insights while utilizing its applications. Given the enormous volume of data Grant Street analyzes and the number of reports the company generates, engineers recognized several years ago that they’d need to find the best analytics database on the market to avoid eventually approaching a performance ceiling.

Having already developed its own in-house reporting tool for front-end user interfaces, Grant Street only needed to replace the back-end solution with an alternative that was faster and could easily be integrated with its existing framework.

The solution

Exploring Options Grant Street already used open-source solutions to develop their tools, so it was natural for their engineers to look for a cost-effective, open-source option in a warehouse database vendor. They ran proof of concept and test scenarios with several warehouse database vendors, none of which sufficiently satisfied Grant Street’s requirements. As a result, the team cast a wider net and specifically began looking into columnar databases.

This exploratory phase led Grant Street to Exasol.

Proof of concept and evaluating Exasol’s solution

Tasked with finding a solution to improve performance levels, software developer Peter Kioko and colleagues, including TaxSys Product Manager Lucy Werb, evaluated Exasol’s database.
“Exasol allows us to deliver accurate and robust reporting across all products almost immediately,” says Werb. “That’s essential for clients to get the most out of our solutions.”

Kioko downloaded and installed Exasol’s live Community Edition to his VMware-running laptop to evaluate it and verify performance claims. The Community Edition was ready to run immediately, without any need for support from the Exasol team.

The six-month proof of concept first focused on performance. Other items on Grant Street’s wish list included ease of integration, low maintenance requirements, and system reliability.

Grant Street’s Chief Technology Officer, Pierre Denis, agreed that Exasol met all requirements. Exasol’s implementation cost was highly competitive and also met Grant Street’s budgetary expectations.

Grant Street and Exasol – more than just client and supplier

Grant Street’s evaluation of Exasol’s platform went beyond product performance. As early as the exploratory proof of concept phase, questions were asked and answered about the philosophies and visions guiding each company.

The companies have shared standards, particularly a commitment to providing clients with tools that work, something that was reaffirmed when Grant Street software developer Peter Kioko attended Exasol’s Atlanta User Group Meeting in February 2019.

“It was a tremendous opportunity for me to interact with not only representatives from other companies that use Exasol, but members of the Exasol product teams themselves,” Kioko recalls.

After thoroughly researching all available solutions, Exasol was the warehouse database that provided an answer to each of the challenges Grant Street faced. And it’s now their warehouse database of choice:

  • The Data Analytics team within Grant Street connects Exasol to two of its core products, TaxSys®and PaymentExpress®.
  • Exasol also serves as the back-end database for Vision™ and VisionPro™– Grant Street’s data analytics and visualization tools designed to give clients a deeper understanding of office performance and customer needs and behavior – supporting both client-facing and internal analytics at Grant Street.
  • Engineers can easily check the performance of Exasol’s database, which meets the Transaction Processing Council Ad-Hoc (TPC-H) benchmarks, and has exceeded Grant Street’s expectations.
  • Exasol’s Community Edition, a one-node image of the Exasol Loading...Loading...In-Memory Database, impressed Grant Street engineers by working faster, even on a laptop, than previous solutions.

The benefits for Grant Street Group

Exasol delivers time and cost savings – and more

Once Exasol’s database was in place, it opened up a whole range of possibilities for Grant Street. They’ve already used the added capabilities to build new business intelligence (BI) solutions, both for use internally and with clients.

Pairing the speed and bandwidth of Exasol with the technical sophistication of Grant Street products allows for Loading...predictive analytics. They, in turn, allow Grant Street’s government clients to make smart business decisions on a continuous basis.

Two dozen data streams currently feed into the Exasol warehouse in real time from different data stores within the business. This makes it possible for Grant Street to correlate all of the data in one place, to produce visualizations and deliver BI solutions.

“Exasol has allowed us to exponentially decrease our reporting times and the functionality of the Loading...in-memory columnar database has opened up a whole range of new possibilities for data leverage,” says Kioko. “Our clients are happy and so are we.”

Adopting Exasol as its database warehouse has allowed Grant Street to continue delivering the highest-quality software and service to its government clients. Ease of integration with Grant Street’s existing in-house tool, which also uses standard SQL, has resulted in:

  • Rapid and thorough installation, taking just four months from the first contact in August 2015. In October, a proof of concept was run and the actual contract was signed in December of the same year. While converting Grant Street’s legacy framework and setting up the right infrastructure required additional time, it took only a day to complete the installation of Exasol software.
  • Faster back-end reporting, supporting a number of different reports. The delivery speed of roughly 5,000 daily reports hitting the warehouse has improved 12-fold for Grant Street. Most impressively, the larger the report, the faster it’s now being delivered. Prior to switching to Exasol, some reports were too large to be run – this is no longer the case.
  • Ability to handle massive amounts of data. Grant Street has about 4TB of data in its production cluster with around 8GB added daily – with up to 100MB a second uploaded into the Exasol warehouse at peak times. An average 30-second lag behind the operational database now allows Grant Street to offer reporting in near real-time.
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