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CERN Case Study

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European research organization that operates the world’s largest particle physics laboratory

Layer 9 are very proud of our association with CERN. Working across the organisation to maximum the value from their Pentaho Investment.

The following is an excerpt of the CASE STUDY from Pentaho on the work with CERN

The challenges faced at CERN

As an international non-governmental organization, CERN has unique challenges facing its corporate information systems. Not only fulfilling the roles of an employer of around 2,500 staff, but also a university (hosting hundreds of students, and thousands of visiting scientists every year), as well a “state”, providing its staff and their families with the social cover (pension, health insurance, etc.). As such, the data CERN holds on its employees is subject to rigorous data protection and compliance regulations. The individual’s role in the CERN community full-time scientist or engineer, short-term trainee or fellow, security guard or fireman, etc.  subjects their data to unique security and access privileges.
CERN’s operational systems support a vast range of decision making from providing employee access to the largest and most complex particle accelerators in the world to more routine matters like allocating budget to projects.
After a $150 million upgrade CERN restarted its main accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in June, therefore it’s vital that administrative processes do not interrupt the ground-breaking research ongoing at the laboratory. Systems need to be fast, simple and embedded into familiar processes and applications.

CERN’s Advanced Information Services (AIS) group is responsible for delivering integrated and reliable corporate information systems to the entire organisation. The AIS group sought to replace the existing commercial and home grown systems serving more than 650,000 report executions per year with a unified Business Analytics, reporting platform and data warehouse to provide a single, 360 view of its operational data to the CERN community of more than 15,000 users.


CERN selected Pentaho’s business analytics and data integration platform to replace several heterogeneous systems and provide a single, 360 view of all its native operational data.
CERN’s developer team, following initial learning and the collaboration with Pentaho, developed an innovative approach to guaranteeing consistent access rights across application boundaries including data exposed through Pentaho. Access rights are calculated using a rules engine taking into consideration business needs and legal requirements. In Pentaho, those rights are enforced by extending Pentaho’s analysis engine (Mondrian).
PDI enabled CERN to migrate from a manually-intensive ETL environment to an automated one, decoupled from proprietary data.
CERN is embedding reporting and analytics via Pentaho’s web service API to enable 15,000+ users to access these services through their normal day-to-day applications.

The value

CERN currently runs Pentaho in a production environment and fully operational as a single platform for AIS, replacing the majority of its legacy systems. CERN initially rolled out a series of test reports to end users. Their enthusiastic feedback has already shown that they are easier to use and run faster than the previous BI solution. CERN’s security implementation with Pentaho is complete and the goal to deliver a new common data warehouse that will is the main source for all corporate data. 

The Pentaho solution gave the AIS developer team control over the platform to customize it for CERN’s complex security and data protection requirements, including the rule-based secure access levels. Pentaho can be easily embedded into and customized for CERN’s various day-to-day operational systems. Pentaho’s modern, open Java-friendly platform supports CERN’s needs today and creates a future-proof environment to accommodate new technology and data types tomorrow. Automated scripting saves developers considerable time compared to previous manual-intensive ETL environment.