Business intelligence (BI) is undeniably crucial. Data is king, and business leaders want to quickly―and securely―tap into it to gain competitive insight, go to market faster, and make the best possible tactical and strategic decisions. The key to success is real-time data analytics.

 

At NetApp, real-time data analytics capability is limited because of our traditional data warehouse (DWH) approach using ETL (Extract Transform Load) processes that pulls data out of one database, places it into another (and perhaps another), before reports can be generated. It can take days to ingest data from the multiple sources to report historical operational results.

Modern Data Analytics

The traditional DWH and ETL approach is not responsive enough for our Cloud Data Services (CDS) business unit at NetApp. This team delivers NetApp’s public and multi-cloud solutions that enable customers to access modern data management applications and services like real-time data analytics. They needed a modern analytics platform to conduct real-time aggregation of data sources with unstructured data.

 

Our Data Science Center of Excellence (DS CoE) team was also excited about a new analytics platform capable of unlocking the value of data to make smarter business decisions, improve operational efficiencies, increase customer satisfaction, and more. Everyone agreed: Being data literate is important.

 

NetApp IT partnered with the CDS team to implement a new, self-service BI platform using the Microsoft Azure cloud services for compute capacity and Azure NetApp Files for storage―part of the NetApp Cloud Central portfolio for cloud workloads. The new analytics platform uses Direct Data Mapping architecture and will provide the team the ability to:

  • Make decisions with up-to-date information from multiple databases
  • Ingest data, in real time, from cloud-based sources
  • Analyze recent (and historical) data―when and how they need it
  • Drag and drop report creation
  • View a mobile dashboard for management level reporting

Azure NetApp Files

While the new analytic platform could have been deployed on premises, we chose to deploy at MS Azure to take advantage of their elastic, pay-as-you-go compute capacity to quickly grow and shrink services as needed. Using cloud-based services allows the team to better leverage machine learning and predictive analytics to drive business growth.

 

To ensure the data management solution was equally flexible and elastic, the environment uses Azure NetApp Files. This cloud native file storage solution ensures secure control of data and is built on proven NetApp ONTAP performance, scalability, and security. It is a fast, simple, and metered way to get Network File Shares (NFS) for cloud workloads and integrates well with cloud add-on services such as analytics, databases, and other native services.

The result was a quick deployment cycle.  We were able to quickly procure the compute and storage in the cloud and deploy ELT-based software without impacting any of our existing transactions and flows. It took two to three weeks to build and deploy the solution compared to months for a traditional data warehouse.

 

Our transformation to a modern analytic platform for actionable business intelligence has begun and it is important to proving the fit of native-cloud solutions in our future IT architecture. The establishment of this environment is expected to spur demand for more advanced, and sophisticated, decision-support activities while encouraging startup-like behaviors within our CDS business unit.

 

The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading data management solutions to support business goals. Want to learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.

Rajesh Shriyan

Rajesh Shriyan is the Director of IT Enterprise Architecture at NetApp. Rajesh and his team work with NetApp’s business teams to ensure application capability in the enterprise and map applications to these capabilities. They help determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives.

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