Security Finance specializes in small personal loans to individuals and automobile financing. This is a data intensive business that requires the company to synchronize data between its 1,000 branch offices and the consolidated headquarters database. As the company has grown, the technology it deployed years ago was no longer delivering the performance, reliability and accuracy it needed to ensure effective business operations and high quality customer service. Security Finance addressed those issues by upgrading its technology, using Sybase SQL Anywhere and Adaptive Server Enterprise for data management and MobiLink for fast and reliable synchronization across its enterprise.
Security Finance has increased performance and reliability significantly, improved access to current information and ensured its competitive edge with top-notch customer service.
- Improves database performance and reliability
- Improves data availability
- Provides timely visibility into business operations, enabling greater business agility
- Enhances customer service
- Financial Services
Keeping Pace with the Speed of Business
Security Finance is a consumer loan company headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The company specializes in making small personal loans to individuals and in automobile financing. It currently has about one million active customers, many of whom are repeat customers. This is a data intensive business that requires the company to synchronize data between its 1,000 branch offices in the United States and Mexico and with the consolidated headquarters database in order to operate efficiently. The company also has a great deal of competition and distinguishes itself in large part through its customer service. Without ready access to current data, its high level of customer service, and consequently its business, would suffer.
Over the past nearly 60 years, Security Finance has grown from a company that handled customer and transaction information using paper-based systems, to a company with hundreds of branch offices that implemented database systems to automate these processes. With continued growth, the company finally outgrew those initial IT systems.
?We found ourselves in the position where people here at headquarters wanted reports each day of what happened in our branch offices the day before. We were sometimes two and three days behind in delivering that information due to the limitations of our old technology,? explains John Pollard, Security Finance?s IT infrastructure development director.
More specifically, Pollard describes situations in which a computer in a branch office would fail. In those instances, the database recovery process was cumbersome and time-consuming. ?Our process was to take the records from a backup database and apply the transaction logs to the operational database to bring it up to date. The branch rarely lost data but the process did not transmit the changes from the branch database to the home office database. As a result, the databases were out of sync.?
The IT staff would then have to unload the branch database and insert the correct records into the home office?s database. While this worked for new records, it did not work too well for records that had been modified or deleted. Additionally, as the company grew, so too did the data volume coming in from the branch offices. As a result, performance degraded and critical data from one day might not be reflected in the company?s consolidated database until the afternoon of the next day. That was simply not acceptable.
?For example,? says Pollard, ?we do a lot of marketing, and without the ability to see current trend information, we run the risk of losing customers to our competitors.?
Not only was the available consolidated information not current, but at times it was inaccurate due to lost or corrupted data. Clearly, something had to be done to remedy this situation.
Increasing Performance and Reliability While Reducing Maintenance
The solution was to update its previous technology across the enterprise to increase performance, scalability and reliability while minimizing maintenance and keeping costs under control.
The Security Finance IT team began by upgrading its hardware and operating system. It then addressed its databases. It deployed Sybase SQL Anywhere databases in each of its remote offices including its MobiLink synchronization technology. On its consolidated server at headquarters, it deployed Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) running on a 64-bit Linux-based platform.
?Our goal,? says Pollard ?was to make sure everyone who needed to see critical data from one day could see it by the next morning, essentially in near real-time. We also needed to improve both the performance and reliability of our synchronization and to have as maintenance free a system as possible, particularly in our branch offices. Thanks to Sybase technology, we?ve been able to meet all of those goals.?
Security Finance also employed Sybase technology to implement a disaster recovery system in the event of a server failure, power outage, or some other natural disaster or human error. It deployed a failover ASE database at a remote site, which is kept up to date by Sybase Replication Server.
For software upgrades to branch locations, and to send files back and forth, the company uses RemoteWare, also from Sybase.
Everyone Has the Data They Need When They Need It
?Those of us in the IT department have worked with Sybase technology in the past and know it to be solid, reliable and cost-effective, so we really didn?t evaluate other products,? says Pollard. ?For example, Sybase is easy to maintain. If we had chosen Oracle for our consolidated database, we would probably have needed five or six DBAs. With Sybase ASE, we have two. And virtually no maintenance or onsite support is needed for the SQL Anywhere databases in our branch offices. Perhaps most impressive, however,? Pollard adds, ?is the MobiLink synchronization. We scripted it to run after-hours and it just goes. By the first thing in the morning everyone has the updated data they need.?
Adds Dick Dobbins, senior database administrator at Security Finance, ?Sybase?s SQL Anywhere database is a top notch product. It gives us a lot of functionality and flexibility and it?s very easy to administer ? it?s essentially maintenance free. It takes care of itself as long as the hardware stays healthy, which is the biggest problem we have in the field, as you can imagine with four thousand or more PC?s out there. They fail and hard drives crash, but SQL Anywhere, among its other functionality, enables us to do regular backups so we don?t lose any data. MobiLink eliminates the synchronization problems we had in the past. It?s fast and reliable.?