Clear Capital leads the nation in providing residential and commercial real estate valuations, data and analytics, quality assurance services and technology solutions. The company, based in Reno, Nev., supports mortgage lenders and services providers, investors, government-sponsored enterprises and ratings agencies with collateral risk assessments.
The company at its foundation is data driven. It manages information on about 122 million properties and information on 15 million appraisals. The company’s data represents more than 90% of the total properties in the US. In all, there are 15 billion valuations in the company’s database.
One of Clear Capital’s primary products is the Home Data Index. It is a mission-critical application with more than 300 internal users and 10,000 to 20,000 external vendors at any one time who rely on the data. It is, as one of Clear Capital’s database administrators put it, a “heavily built product” for examining property values based on comparable sales, appraisals and other factors.
Low Cost and PostGIS
The Clear Capital team was using Oracle with multiple solutions for geospatial, one of which was very costly. The team also anticipated significant growth and was looking for ways to manage future costs. The team looked to Postgres Plus Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB (EDB) because of its low cost. The ability to use PostGIS with EDB’s Postgres Plus was attractive as well. PostGIS is a very powerful open source extension for Postgres for building applications with geospatial characteristics and capabilities.
“We wanted the flexibility to spin up systems as we needed them without having to factor in the high cost of Oracle licenses,” said Terry Schmitt, Data Systems Engineer at Clear Capital.
Clear Capital migrated Home Data Index from Oracle to EDB Postgres Plus in 2009. The version, 8.4, was in beta at the time so EDB provided a database architect on-site to help write code and fix bugs when they surfaced. About 80% of the Oracle application matched easily to comparable functions and packages in EDB Postgres Plus and were running right away.
The migration took three months though that is unusual for applications like Home Data Index that had so many compatible components. The fact that 8.4 was in beta and the level of customization Clear Capital had done for its application contributed to the migration time.
“The Oracle compatibility paid for itself and was very successful. Oracle compatibility is hand’s down a great feature for making it easy to work with EDB Postgres Plus,” said Schmitt. “It’s very comfortable for the team with work with. They already understand the language because EDB Postgres Plus runs native PL/SQL and they’re used to creating packages in Oracle so it’s a great way to organize the code in Postgres. It reduced the technical risk in migrating the database code and minimized our retraining time and costs.”
Still running today, the database, which was 600G at migration and in March 2015 had swelled to 1TB, scaled seamlessly. Clear Capital migrated an additional database from Oracle to EDB’s Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.1, again taking advantage of database compatibility for Oracle and reducing spending on the database significantly. The company has further plans to expand and upgrade its deployment of EDB Postgres Plus.
“We’re trying to keep our Oracle footprint as small as we can, and we have seen the value in EDB Postgres Plus,” said Eric Ristine, former director of IT Operations at Clear Capital. “Not having to pay Oracle is priceless.”