The Unfinished Business of Business Intelligence Part 2

The Unfinished Business of Business Intelligence Part 2

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Building the team, continued:

Continuing the list that was begun in Part 1 of this series, these are the personnel who will be needed in Phases Two and Three, and some of the key questions that they will need to answer:

Phase Two – Bracing For The Worst 

IT/Corporate Security Team

  • Can production data be used in QA and DEV environments; if so, are production DBs accessible from those environments?
  • To what extent can data be cached in end-user browsers (inside the company), and in what form; are there static content performance issues to address?
  • What constraints are in place regarding mobile devices; which OSes are allowed, what if any type of data can be cached and for how long, and must the mobile application support remote data wiping?
  • What cross-cutting data access policies are there that will supersede the access control policies of the business application?

Directory Services Administrator

  • Given the currently identified end-user population, which directories (OUs, groups, etc.) and which directory service products are involved?
  • Do any of the directory services directly affect desktop/browser behavior (e.g. Group Policy Objects in Active Directory) and/or web application server access?
  •  Which access protocols, and which operations within each protocol is supported by each directory service?

Desktop Deployment Administrator

  • Given the current end-user population, what are the desktop/laptop profiles, i.e. CPU count, speed, 32- or 64-bit; RAM size; disk size and speed?
  •  Which OSes, at what revision and patch levels are used, 32- or 64-bit?
  • Which vendor and version of JVM is deployed?
  • Which vendors and versions of browsers are deployed?
  • Which, if any of the above will change significantly during the BI platform deployment timeline?

Phase Three – Scaling Out and Fortifying The Deployment

  • Web Application Server Specialist
  • Domain Name Services (DNS) Administrator
  • Network Load Balancer (NLB) Administrator
  • Storage Administrator
  • Platform Backup and Recovery Specialist

Anticipating delivery challenges: start at the edges and work inward

When anticipating Enterprise-scale system delivery challenges, visualizing the collection of actors and elements in terms of the problem perimeter can be useful: a series of concentric circles where the BI application and the technicians installing the product is contained by the smallest circle, the databases and DBAs are in the next ring and so on until one reaches the end-users, their desktop/laptop environments and the desktop administrators in the outermost circle. In an initial planning meeting with the key stakeholders, drawing the problem perimeter on the whiteboard can be galvanizing; more often than not this activity triggers those “uh-oh!” moments up front, as opposed to halfway through the deployment effort.

Once the perimeter is drawn, discussing the challenges at the outer circle engages the business immediately, while implicitly stating the true priorities within the overall effort: this is a business/end-user driven initiative, with everything within the circle of end-users being organized and configured to deliver what’s in the bulls-eye to the end-users.

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