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									                                              Microsoft SQL Server 2005
                                              Customer Solution Case Study




                                              First American Title Insurance Runs Mission
                                              Critical Application on SQL Server 2005



Overview                                      “We have 8 terabytes of data in our largest database,
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Financial Services
                                              and our biggest table has 850 million rows. SQL
                                              Server 2005 has performed faultlessly.”
Customer Profile
                                              Priti Desai, Vice President of Title Application Development, First American Title Insurance Company
Based in Santa Ana, California, First
American Title Insurance Company is the
second largest title company in the United
State s.                                      First American Title Insurance Company, a subsidiary of The First
Business Situation                            American Corporation, traces its history to 1889. One of the largest
First American Title Insurance Company        title insurance companies in the nation, the company offers title
needed an enterprise-grade solution to
support its mission-critical First American   services through its direct operations and an extensive network of
Software Technology (FAST) application        agents throughout the United States and abroad. Over the years,
and its 8-terabyte data base.
                                              the company acquired several companies, leading to a complex IT
Solutio n                                     environment that at one point had more than 50 different title and
The company upgraded its FAST
application database to Microsoft® SQL        escrow systems. The company united these disparate systems with
Server ® 2005 Enterprise Edition to take      its First American Software Technology (FAST) solution, deployed on
advantage of Online Indexing and other
new features. The company is also looking     the Microsoft® Application Platform, recently upgrading its FAST
forward to deploying SQL Server 2008.         solution to Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 to take advantage of
Benefits                                      features such as Online Indexing and enhanced replication. The
 Faster re-indexing                          solution’s primary database holds more than 8 terabytes of
 Enterprise-grade stability
 Faster performance
                                              information, with 850 million rows in the largest table.
 Ease of upgrading
 Enhanced data replication
Fast Facts
Largest FAST database        8 terabytes                                        To address these obstacles, the company
                                                                                developed First American Software
Largest table                850 million rows
                                                                                Technology (FAST), an inte grated title and
Number of FAST users         15, 000                                            escrow system —and the largest IT initiative in
Number of concurrent users   7,000                                              the company’s history. Built from the ground
Peak loads                   15, 000 batch requests per second                  up over a period of three years, the new
                                                                                solution replaced all 50 title and escrow
Improvement in re-indexing   40 percent faster with SQL Server 2005
                                                                                systems across the company with a state-of-
                                                                                the-art, Web-based, centrally managed
                                                                                solution.
                               Situation
                               For nearly 120 years First American Title        FAST proved highly efficient for the compa ny,
                               Insurance Company has been providing ti tle      as did its use of the Microsoft Application
                               and settlement services for the residential      Platform, including Microsoft SQL Server ®
                               and commercial real estate industry. The         2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) and Internet
                               company offers its services through its direct   Information Services (IIS) 6 running on the
                               operations and an extensive network of           Microsoft Windows Server ® 2003, Datacenter
                               agents throughout the United State s and         Edition for Itanium-based Systems operating
                               abroad, and is the largest subsidiary of The     system. The solution wa s hosted on an HP
                               First American Corporation, a FORTUNE 500®       Integrity Superdome with 32 Intel Itanium 64-
                               company.                                         bit processors.


                               The company is one of the largest title          Always searching for ways to enhance the
                               insurance companies in the United Sta tes        services it provides, First American IT wanted
                               and has enjoyed rapid growth. Its growth ha s    to take advanta ge of new fea tures and
                               included a number of acquisitions, which         functionality it saw in newer releases of SQL
                               have contributed to a highly heterogeneous IT    Server, with a special interest in the Online
                               environment. At one point, the company had       Indexing feature introduced with SQL Server
                               more than 50 different title and escrow          2005.
                               systems, which ran on a number of platforms
                               including the Novell, UNIX, and Microsoft®       Solution
                               Windows® operating systems. Some of these        First American upgraded its database
                               systems were stand-alone applications            software to SQL Server 2005 Enterprise
                               running on a single desktop computer, while      Edition (64-bit). The company also worked
                               others were server-based and supported           with Microsoft Services to update the
                               dozens or hundreds of users.                     architecture of the FAST application to gain
                                                                                efficiencies including use of the Open XML
                               Having such a distributed and heterogeneous      Formats features of Microsoft Office Word
                               IT environment presented several                 2007 to programma tically generate
                               disadvantage s for the company including         documents. Using Open XML Formats
                               higher IT management costs, inefficient          enhances the document generation functions
                               reporting across disparate systems, and          of FAST, including inte gration with da ta
                               slower new product development because of        stored on SQL Server. First American
                               the complexity and cost of application           generates tens of thousa nds of documents
                               integration.                                     per day. The new solution improves the speed
                                                                                at which docume nts ca n be generated and
                                                                                       applications as a service provider to others in
                                                                                       the title insurance and related industries.

                                                                                       First American’s FAST application supports
                                                                                       15, 000 users, wi th up to 7, 000 concurrent
                                                                                       users during peak usage. SQL Server 2005
                                                                                       supports some 15, 000 batch requests per
                                                                                       second for FAST.

                                                                                       The company is using the Online Indexing
                                                                                       feature of SQL Server 2005 to decrease the
                                                                                       need for scheduled downtime. First American
                                                                                       values Online Indexing because it enables
                                                                                       database administrators to create or rebuild
                                                                                       indexes without taking the database offline.
                                                                                       Larry Godec, Vice President and Chief
                                                                                       Information Officer for First American Title
                                                                                       Insurance Company notes, “Online re-
                                                                                       indexing will greatly reduce our downtime
                                                                                       window and allow the business to continue
                                                                                       closing Title and Escrow files through the
Headquarters - The First American   provides flexibility for modifying existing and    weekend.”
   Corporation Headquarters in      creating new kinds of documents.
   Santa Ana, California. (Photo
                                                                                       FAST Architecture
   copyright, The First American    Looking ahead, First American visited the          FAST is a multi-tiered intranet Web-based
   Corporation)                     Microsoft SQL Server Lab in Redmond,               application that services users across a wide
                                    Washington, to test its application on SQL         area network infrastructure. The multi-tier
                                    Server 2008 beca use of the compa ny’s             structure includes:
                                    interest in new SQL Server 2008 features
                                    including Resource Governor, Backup                 Client Tier. Accessed using Microsoft
                                    Compression, Data Co mpression, and                  Internet Explorer, FAST screens are
                                    enhanced Table Partitioning.                         rendered using custom components that
                                                                                         are automatically downloaded to manage
                                    “We absolutely intend to upgrade our FAST            client-side processing logic. The client tier
                                    infrastructure to SQL Server 2008 as soon as         also includes Adobe Acrobat Reader so
                                    we can schedule it with our operations,” says        users can preview FAST documents.
                                                                                        Web Application Tier. The Web application
                                    Priti Desai, Vice President of Title Application
                                    Development at First American Title                  tier uses IIS to serve content to the Internet
                                    Insurance Company.                                   Explorer ® client browser. The Web
                                                                                         application tier also serves as a middle-tier
                                    An enterprise-grade database is required             application server, created using Microsoft
                                    because the FAST title document                      development tools, to encapsulate
                                    management system supports a number of               business logic and data. Messa ge Queuing,
                                    internal applications, including mission-            a component of the Windo ws Server 2003
                                    critical line-of-business operations. FAST also      operating system, supports asynchronous
                                    supports a number of third-party external            interfacing with the document delivery tier.
                                                                                     All tiers are supported by the 64- way
                                                                                     Superdome server. Message Queuing is used
                                                                                     to connect the solution’s subsystems in a
                                                                                     highly reliable, fully integrated manner by
                                                                                     providing guaranteed messa ge delivery,
                                                                                     efficient routing, security, and priority-based
                                                                                     messaging. An EMC Symmetrix storage area
                                                                                     network with 5 terabytes of usable disk
                                                                                     capacity provides external storage. To
                                                                                     maximize availability for its FAST solution,
                                                                                     First American maintains a second, identical
                                                                                     infrastructure at ano ther First American data
                                                                                     center in Dallas, Texas.

                                                                                     Missio n-Critic al Support Mo del
                                                                                     Windows Server 2003, Data center Edition
                                                                                     running on the HP Superdome provides First
                                                                                     American with more than just a scalable and
                                                                                     reliable platform. The Datacenter High
                                                                                     Availability Program, a partnership between
                                                                                     Microsoft and server manufacturers like HP,
FAST Architectural Tiers – First     FAST Web services suppor t delivery of          complements the server and operating
    American used a multi-tier       FAST da ta to non-FAST syste ms.                system with a mainframe-style support model
    architecture to create its      Do cument Delivery Tier. When a user            that helps First American keep its mission-
    integrated title and escrow      requests a document, the request is
    system, which includes a 1-                                                      critical solution up and running.
                                     dispatched to a document delivery server
    terabyte SQL Server 2005
    database.                        to bind user data with a FAST user-defined      Benefits
                                     document template. The binding of the           Upgrading FAST to SQL Server 2005, with its
                                     data and the user-defined template is done      Online Indexing feature, gave First American
                                     using Microsoft Office Word, including          the technology it needed to more efficiently
                                     Word’s XML Formats feature.                     perform re-indexing. The company also found
                                    Inter faces Tier. The interfaces tier enables   that up grading provided the enterprise-grade
                                     FAST to interoperate wi th a number of non-     performance it required to manage its multi-
                                     FAST First American systems.                    terabyte relational data stores. First American
                                    Da tabase Tier . FAST is supported by two       was impressed by how easy it was to up grade
                                     instances of SQL Server 2005, hosted on a       to SQL Server 2005, and is benefiting from
                                     shared HP Integrity Superdome comp uter         enhanced data replication. Looking ahead,
                                     with 64 Intel 64-bit processors and 128         the company is eager to move its operations
                                     gigabytes (GB) of RAM. The largest SQL          onto SQL Server 2008.
                                     Server instance holds 8 terabytes of FAST
                                     data, with 850 million rows in the largest      Faster Re-I ndexing
                                     table, and 750 million rows in the next         First American is impressed with the stability
                                     largest. A second instance holds 1.1            and speed it has found in working with the
                                     terabytes of document workflow data. (One       Online Indexing feature of SQL Server 2005.
                                     fourth of the processors and memory are         The company has begun to use Online
                                     dedicated to the second instance.)              Indexing in its operations, with plans to phase
                                                                                     in use of Online Indexing to all of its tables.
“Online re-indexing will                    Even with just partial deployment of Online      has performed faultlessly, which is what our
                                            Indexing, the company credits the fea ture       operations require. Our primary database can
greatly reduce our                          with helping it to reduce scheduled downtime     support some 7, 000 concurrent users,
downtime window and                         by 25 percent.                                   processing up to 15, 000 batch requests per
                                                                                             second, and these are fairly complex batch
allow the business to                       Re-indexing is so important that, prior to       requests.”
continue closing Title                      upgrading, the IT group was hearing requests
                                            from some of its internal customers asking       Faster Performance
and Escrow files through                    for an upgrade to SQL Server 2005, just to       Upgrading to SQL Server 2005 gave First
the weekend.”                               take advantage of Online Indexing.               American faster performance and lower CPU
                                                                                             utilization. “We saw an immediate 10 percent
Larry Godec, Vice President and Chief       “Online Indexing was the biggest reason we       increase in processing speed after upgrading
Information Officer, First American Title   wanted to up grade to SQL Server 2005,” says     to SQL Server 2005, ” says Prattipati. “CPU
Insurance Company                           Desai. “With our earlier solution, re-indexing   utilization also went down significantly for
                                            was slow and could be troublesome,               both production and backup transa ctions.”
                                            increasing the need for scheduled downtime.
                                            We needed to make sure the system was            Additional performance gains were achieved
                                            available around the clock, and that is what     using the Dynamic Mana gement Views (DMV)
                                            SQL Server 2005 is helping us acco mplish        feature of SQL Server 2005. DMV provides a
                                            with Online Indexing.”                           wide range of reports that give database
                                                                                             administrators greater transparency across
                                            Online Indexing is helping First American IT     multiple aspects of databa se health and
                                            meet its internal service level agreements for   performance. SQL Server 2005 includes over
                                            uptime. “With our old SQL Server 2000            70 DMV reports for comprehensive views of
                                            deployment re-indexing could take 25 hours,      performance data and recommenda tions for
                                            which was just too long for our operations,”     improving database performance. Of special
                                            says Narasimha Rao Prattipati, Title             interest to First America was the Systems
                                            Command Center Manager at First American         Views Map, which shows the key system
                                            Title Insurance Company. “Moving to SQL          views included in SQL Server 2005, and the
                                            Server 2005, wi th the option of doing this      relationships between them.
                                            online, we reduce the amount of planned
                                            downtime. We’ve also been happy with the         “Using Systems Views we can ge t a snapsho t
                                            stability of re-indexing with SQL Server 2005.   of SQL Server right away instead of waiting
                                            We don’t see the problems that once added        for the traces to be loaded and then doing
                                            to our need for downtime.”                       the analysis later on,” says Desai. “We can
                                                                                             look at real-time data, and use that to fine-
                                            Enterprise-Grade Stability                       tune our operations.”
                                            First American created such a great internal
                                            resource with FAST that the solution has         When traces are loaded, the process goes
                                            become critically important throughout its       much faster since the upgrade. “With our old
                                            operations, meaning that it requires             database it took us three to four hours to
                                            enterprise-grade performance and stability       load traces for troubleshooting,” says
                                            from its database software.                      Prattipati. “With SQL Server 2005 trace
                                                                                             loading takes only half an hour.”
                                            “We have 8 terabyte s of data in our largest
                                            database, and our biggest table has 850          Eas e of Upgrading
                                            million rows,” says Desai. “SQL Server 2005
“With our old database                    First American was impressed with how easy        database software, and is eager to upgrade
                                          it was to up grade to SQL Server 2005 from        to take advanta ge of a number of new
it took us three to four                  SQL Server 2000. As an internal best practice     features in SQL Server 2008, including:
hours to load traces for                  the company created a second insta nce of its
                                                                                             Backup Co mpression. With SQL Server
                                          FAST da tabases, replicating them to a
troubleshooting. With                     backup instance of SQL Server 2000. But the
                                                                                              2008 Backup Compression, the
                                                                                              compression is performed in memory
SQL Server 2005 trace                     backup instance wa s never needed as the
                                                                                              before the data is transferred to disk.
                                          upgraded database so ftware worked
loading takes only half                   flawlessly.
                                                                                              Backups run significantly faster since less
                                                                                              disk I/O is required. Backup Compression
an hour.”                                                                                     reduces the storage required to keep
                                          “We performed the complete up grade in a
Narasimha Rao Prattipati, Title Command                                                       backups online, reducing the overall cost of
                                          single weekend,” says Desai. “We just trea ted
Center Manager, First American Title                                                          keeping disk-based backups. “Our tests
                                          it as part of our regular database
Insurance Company                                                                             show tha t Backup Compression in SQL
                                          maintenance cycle. We had no outages while
                                                                                              Server 2008 gives us 10 to 15 percent
                                          upgrading to SQL Server 2005, and it is
                                                                                              better compression than what we had
                                          performing flawlessly for us.”
                                                                                              experienced with our third-party solution,”
                                                                                              says Prattipati.
                                          Enh anc ed Data Replic atio n
                                                                                             Resource Governor . SQL Server 2008
                                          Replication of data and schema has been
                                                                                              enables organizations to provide a
                                          easier and more robust since upgrading the
                                                                                              consistent and predictable response to end
                                          database software. Designed to increase
                                                                                              users with the introduction of Resource
                                          data availability by distributing the data
                                                                                              Governor. First American can use Resource
                                          across multiple databases, First American’s
                                                                                              Governor to define resource limits and
                                          FAST solution also uses replication to provide
                                                                                              priorities for different workloads, and to
                                          a real-time copy of the database for reporting,
                                                                                              help ensure resources can’t be unduly
                                          to reduce loads on the database supporting
                                                                                              impacted by poorly constructed queries or
                                          online transaction processing.
                                                                                              other unusual workloads. “We love
                                                                                              Resource Governor,” says Desai. “We tried
                                          “We are pleasantly surprised by the
                                                                                              Resource Governor in the lab, setting it up
                                          enhancements of replication in SQL Server
                                                                                              so that it alerted us by e-mail if a process
                                          2005,” says Desai. “We are continually
                                                                                              was taking too long to complete. This gives
                                          making business enhancements to our
                                                                                              us the chance to investiga te and take
                                          applications which in turn require quite a few
                                                                                              action.”
                                          database schema change s on the back end.
                                                                                             Da ta Compression. First American will use
                                          With the earlier version, we sometimes
                                                                                              SQL Server 2008 Da ta Compression to
                                          experienced problems in replicating schema
                                                                                              help the company store more data on its
                                          changes. With SQL Server 2005 those
                                                                                              hard drives, reducing the need for
                                          problems have disappeared. Our
                                                                                              purchasing additional storage systems. The
                                          transactional replication is now rock solid. ”
                                                                                              same feature also reduces the number of
                                                                                              disk reads that databases must perform by
                                          Looking Ahead to SQL Serv er 2008
                                                                                              incorporating more data into system
                                          After the smoo th upgrade of its FAST solution
                                                                                              memory. “We also like the white space
                                          to SQL Server 2005, First American already is
                                                                                              compression,” Desai says. “This will reduce
                                          looking ahead to upgrading FAST to SQL
                                                                                              our storage, which will help our
                                          Server 2008. The company has visited
                                                                                              performance.”
                                          Microsoft’s SQL Server Lab in Redmond,
                                          Washington to test applications on the new
For More Information                                                Table Partitioning. Table Partitioning,            Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
For more information about Microsoft                                 enhanced for SQL Server 2008, enables              For more information about the Microsoft
products and services, call the Microsoft                            faster data loads and simplified                   server product portfolio, go to:
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                               maintenance for very large tables by giving        www.microsoft.com/servers/default.mspx
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                                  First American database administrators the
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-                              ability to treat multiple tables as a single       Microsoft SQL Server 2005
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-                             entity. “Table Partitioning is important to        Microsoft SQL Server 2005 is
hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone                           our operations,” says Desai. “We feel that         comprehensive, integrated data mana gement
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892- 5234 in                             this feature is even more robust in SQL            and analysis software tha t enables
the United Sta tes or (905) 568-9641 in                              Server 2008. ”                                     organizations to reliably manage mission-
Canada. Outside the 50 United Sta tes and                                                                               critical information and confidently run
Canada, please contact your local                                Summary                                                today’s increasingly complex business
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information                       In summary, First American Title Insurance            applications. By providing high availability,
using the World Wide Web, go to:                                 Company has found the enterprise-grade                 security enhancements, and embedded
www.microsoft.com                                                performance it requires by deploying its               reporting and data analysis tools, SQL Server
                                                                 mission-critical FAST solution on the                  2005 helps companies gain greater insight
For more information about HP products                           Microsoft Application Platform, including SQL          from their business information and achieve
and services, visit the Web site at:                             Server 2005 Enterprise Edition. The company            faster results for a competitive advantage.
www.hp.com                                                       is taking advantage of SQL Server 2005                 And, because it’s part of the Microsoft server
                                                                 features including Online Indexing, DMVs,              product portfolio, SQL Server 2005 is
For more information about First American                        and enhanced data replication. Looking                 designed to integra te seamlessly with your
Title Insurance Company products and                             ahead, it is eager to upgrade to SQL Server            other server infrastructure investments.
services, call (800) 854- 3643 or visit the                      2008 to take advanta ge of new features,
Web site at: www.firstam. com                                    including Backup Compression, Data                     For more information about SQL Server
                                                                 Compression, Resource Governor, and                    2005, go to:
                                                                 enhanced Table Partitioning.                           www.microsoft.com/sqlserver




                                                                     Software and Services                          Hardware
                                                                      Microsoft Server Product Por tfolio             HP Integrity Superdome with 64 Intel 64-
                                                                       − Windows Server 2003 Da tacenter                bit processors and 128 GB of RAM
                                                                         Edition for Itanium-based Systems
                                                                       − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise       Partner
                                                                         Edition (64-bit)                              HP
                                                                      Microsoft Office
                                                                       − Microsoft Office Open XML
                                                                      Technologies
                                                                       − Microsoft Internet Informa tion Services
                                                                         6



This case study is fo r informational purposes only. MICROSOFT
MAKES NO WAR RANTIES, EXPRES S OR IMP LIED, IN THIS
SUMMARY.

Document published March 2009

								
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