Cision Scales Their Business and Opens New Opportunities with MapR Solution

As the volume of data that Cision is managing continually increases, MapR is helping Cision to expand their business more flexibly and efficiently, and Cision is also now able to expand their offerings into new areas.

The Business

Cision is a leading provider of cloud-based PR software, services and tools for the marketing and public relations industry. Marketing and PR professionals use Cision products to help manage all aspects of their brands – from identifying key media and influencers to connecting with audiences; monitoring traditional and social media; and analyzing outcomes. Journalists, bloggers, and other influencers use Cision’s tools to research story ideas, track trends, and maintain their public profiles.

The Challenge

Cision had built the latest version of its CisionPoint software in 2007 on a Microsoft SQL server. “In recent years, the amount of media data has exploded,” says Greg Stam, Cision’s Senior VP of Global Software Engineering. “We started to outgrow our SQL server databases. We had to put limits on the type of data we could bring in. The database was becoming more difficult to manage, backing it up, storing it, moving it around to test, and running reports.”

MapR Solution

Cision knew they had to make a change so they started looking at NoSQL platforms. Once they knew Hadoop was the right solution, they had to decide whether to just do open source, or to partner with a company. They talked to Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR.

“We liked the MapR solution. We liked the people we met. We thought the tech support was great. We did benchmarking and MapR M5 was about 1.5x faster. It was a no brainer,” says Greg Stam, Cision’s Senior VP of Global Software Engineering.

“After outgrowing our SQL solution, we evaluated Hadoop solutions for six months and chose MapR to help us manage our growing volume of data. Scaling with MapR is now a simple ‘Wash. Rinse. Repeat.’ process instead of a long complex project with worries about bottlenecks and compatibility issues. I can scale linearly by popping up new servers in hours not months. This is a game changer for us.”

— Greg Stam, Vice President of Global Software Engineering, Cision


Cision is able to scale its business more cost effectively and offer their customers more robust offerings using MapR.

  • Ease of scaling
    In the past, when the business grew, it was very challenging for Cision to scale. “We were always trying to get the latest and greatest hardware so we kept swapping hardware vendors—Dell, HP, Cisco. Every time you do it, the operating system is different. It’s a big learning curve and it takes months,” says Stam.
    With MapR, scaling is much simpler. “Instead of having to buy the latest generation of servers, more memory and bigger iron, now we just go wider. It’s a lot faster to expand and easier to just plug something in,” says Stam. “Scaling with MapR is now a simple ‘WashRinse-Repeat’ process instead of a long complex project with worries about bottlenecks and compatibility issues.”

  • Flexibility to manage more data
    MapR also gives Cision more flexibility about the sheer volume of data they can manage. “We get millions news items a day. When we need to expand, we can add on servers in hours not weeks. It’s going to make my life easier. It makes a huge difference keeping up with the data. This gives us so much flexibility.”
    Data volume is important for Cision’s business because it allows them to offer their clients wider coverage in the media sources they track and analyze. “This opens up a whole new range of data sources for our clients.”

  • Superior product and responsive support
    Cision was very impressed with MapR’s product development. “We appreciate the R&D that goes into the product. MapR is constantly trying to improve the product,” says Stam. “I had the opportunity to participate on MapR’s customer advisory board. It’s a great forum to exchange ideas. We could tell them whether this is the type of thing to work on for us. We feel like we have a voice. The MapR team is knowledgeable and they listen. They are very serious about turning out the best product they can. That’s good for us and all their customers.”
    The relationship with the technical and support team was key to their decision to go with MapR. “We were looking for a partner that could truly help us. We were getting smarter about Hadoop and we needed someone who could help educate us about how to develop our solution,” says Stam.

“It’s one thing to just serve up data, it’s another to offer insights. We’ll be able to get into predictive models, to be a robust recommendation engine. MapR Hadoop is the engine behind it. It’s a game changer for us”

— Greg Stam, Vice President of Global Software Engineering, Cision