Case study

How to build a Big Data center of excellence with Vertica


Criteo started by using Hadoop for internal analytics, but soon found that its users were unhappy with query performance, and that direct reporting on top of Hadoop was unrealistic.


Adding Vertica on top of the existing Hadoop framework helped Criteo generate real intelligence and profit from Big Data. By selecting Vertica, Criteo gains deep insights across tremendous data loads, enabling it to optimize the performance of its display ads delivered in real-time for each individual consumer across mobile, apps, and desktop.


The company has experienced double-digit growth since its inception, and Vertica allows it to keep up with the ever-growing volume of data. Criteo uses Vertica to distribute and order data to fine tune for specific query scenarios. Its Vertica cluster is 75 TB on 50 CPU heavy nodes and growing.

The most effective CoE has a mix of people and technical skills. It’s an operational client-facing role so the right person will enjoy providing value by quickly analyzing why something is or isn’t working. Look for engineers interested in seeing things work in action, and making users happy. Another good candidate is an analyst who shows more technical acumen along with people skills. Regardless of who you choose, members of the CoE have to be really good at what they do and how they interact with internal clients, because they have really broad authority.

Even if you don’t call it a CoE, having a central team dedicated to making sure all activities around Big Data analytics follow best practices will help keep business on the right Big Data path. A mix of professionals who understand how databases work along with those who understand how people use data in their business will create a high-functioning team. The goal of that team is to respond quickly to business needs within the technical constraints of the architecture and to act deliberately and accordingly to create a tighter feedback loop on how the analytics stack performs.

Goals of a Big Data CoE:

  • Defining a common set of best practices and work standards around Big Data
  • Assessing (or helping others to assess) whether they are utilizing Big Data and analytics to best advantage
  • Providing guidance and support to assist engineers, programmers, end users, data scientists, and other stakeholders to implement these best practices

Without question, the most important thing is to simplify, simplify, simplify. Sole-sourcing data for Vertica from Hadoop, for example, provides a defined backup process. It also allows for easy replication to multiple clusters. Vertica facilitates a simplified backup process and leaves little room for error.

Becoming mature with Big Data is not simply about using diverse data and building models that are operationalized in your organization. Big Data maturity is also about building a culture that supports analytics and is able to execute on it. It involves new organizational models, new leadership roles, and ensuring new development and deployment models.

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Criteo case study

release-rel-2021-1-2-5675 | Tue Jan 12 21:44:14 PST 2021
Tue Jan 12 21:44:14 PST 2021