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Architecture & Strategy – Royal Mail hails Hortonworks Hadoop platform

25/04/2016 by

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According to the director of Royal Mail’s Technology Data Group, Thomas Lee-Warren, Large corporations need to bring “the best of small company culture” to improve data analytics and build an effective IT infrastructure in the digital age. Warren believes that Hadoop investment was also the key foundation for a more steady and sensible approach to the problems and opportunities posed by the growing mass of big data and the need for scalable IT solutions.

Royal Mail’s Technology Data Group has transformed its architecture and built a new analytics-focused culture following previous difficulties with solving problems quickly. Warren claims that small companies are well versed in finding solutions and that large enterprises must follow suit by tackling problems, modelling them in code and analysing them for meaningful results and feedback. These solutions should also be easily communicated to line-of-business departments that do not understand the complexities of programing languages such as Swift and Spark.

"I'm interested in bringing the best of small company culture to large corporations and vice versa," Lee-Warren said. "The ability to understand and solve problems quickly is very important. The guys and girls can take a problem, cut code, make models, knock up some visualisations and return and say: 'This is what we've done.’ They've managed to squash that process down to days or a couple of weeks, and that's revolutionary for a business that is used to tasking IT with something and when they come back they've got grey hair."

Royal Mail now makes use of a central data lake via Hortonworks Hadoop HDP, which is able to store data from a multitude of sources. It also cuts down on silos across the company by using the real-time Apache Nifi data flow solution. Having access to this combined set of data is particularly useful for data scientists as they can deliver fresh insights while being compliant at a business level with the many data regulations.

Software company Hortonworks has recently integrated both Apache Ranger and Apache Atlas in its Hadoop distribution to unify security and governance factors following feedback from large corporations such as Royal Mail. Lee-Warren believes the data innovations have been vital in an increasingly competitive environment and offer the potential to optimise business processes in the future, while continuing to improve customer experience. Hortonworks has also helped British Gas to make better use of its customer data in “a true open source environment.”

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