You probably heard of powerful ways how other organizations and corporations are using Big Data. For example, prominent retailers and credit card companies are compiling Big Data to get a 360-degree view of their customers - enabling them to predict lifetime events such as divorces and births for more targeted marketing.
But Big Data doesn't have to be creepy. It also has serious applications in the IT space, for example, to boost the efficiency of your enterprise data warehouse or to accelerate your desktop migration process for thousands of users - the one use case we want to focus on today.
But before we get to that, let us have a quick look, what Big Data even is and why it matters.
What Is Big Data?
Not One Formal Definition
Every company, research institute, and organization seem to have a slightly different definition what the term "Big Data" actually means. While we do not want to dive into which one has more merit than the next, we picked the two that capture its essence for us:
Microsoft defines Big Data like this:
“Big data is the term increasingly used to describe the process of applying serious computing power—the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence—to seriously massive and often highly complex sets of information.”
Jonathan Stuart Ward and Adam Barker at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, however, get right to the point:
"Big data is a term describing the storage and analysis of large and or complex data sets using a series of techniques including, but not limited to: NoSQL, MapReduce and machine learning.”
Big Data Growth Over The Next Years
With the data volume expected to more than quadruple over the next 5 years, it only makes sense to find ways to harness the power that comes with so much data. IDC expects the Big Data technology and related services market "to grow at a 26.4% CAGR to $41.5 billion through 2018, or about six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market. Additionally, by 2020 IDC believes that line of business buyers will help drive analytics beyond its historical sweet spot of relational (performance management) to the double-digit growth rates of real-time intelligence and exploration/discovery of the unstructured worlds."
As for desktop transformations, Big Data is all about changing the way enterprises utilize this data by managing and executing large scale migrations. For many companies, the next opportunity will be their Windows 10 and desktop/application virtualization transformation projects. So whilst desktop migrations might arguably be considered not to use the official definition of big data, they certainly use enough data to be considered big!
Why Does Data Matter For Desktop Transformation Projects?
All too often, the initial business case for desktop migration is flawed from the outset with data inaccuracies and inconsistencies. For example, if your investment plan is built on an unqualified user, computer and application counts, then it could be doomed from the start. A strong business case is the foundation of your project, and the data is your core resource.
Using data effectively is your number one priority in supporting these objectives. Any IT project manager without a good grasp of their data is unlikely to achieve project control. At the end of the day, these project managers need to answer two questions: Did they deliver on time? Was the project on budget? If your company is approaching a major OS migration, the issue is not how to harvest the data, but what to do with it all! If you can conquer this issue, your company will have a massive competitive advantage.
We have mapped out below the five steps that will enable you to leverage Big Data to accelerate your desktop migrations:
The biggest hurdle faced by many IT migration project managers is discovering the application estate. Applications are at the heart of desktop transformation, and you will most likely have more data collection options for applications than anything else. There are a raft of different application discovery tools in the market, and you may already have one if you are utilizing a centralized software distribution system. Your outcome needs to be an authoritative list of discovered applications and their link to users and computers. A row count likely to reach into the millions.
Once you have identified your data, the next stage in the process is to validate it. If you don’t know where to begin, start with the fundamentals:
- Is the headcount number correct?
- Does the computer count look right?
- Can you confirm that a sample of users have the right PC ownership, the right applications, and are members of the right department and are located in the correct building?
The most important thing to keep in mind during this phase is to establish confidence. This data is your project cornerstone, and will become the basis of your analytics, planning, and future rollout plans.
Once all users and computers have been validated, your next step is to your application estate. The number of applications you migrate will hugely impact the scope and budget of your transformation program. It is essential that you pick a sample group of users and ensure that the application list in your baseline data is accurate.
After validating all of your data, you can now consolidate everything on your plate. Consolidation is all about where you are going to store, aggregate, categorize, rationalize and host all of your new project data. The maximum project benefit will only be achieved with a strategic plan and continued maintenance of your data source.
After discovering and then validating your data, you’ve likely aggregated valuable business intelligence, but what use is this information if it isn’t readily accessible? Some of your tooling options include Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, In-House or third party bespoke tool and a third party data warehousing tool like Juriba’s Dashworks.
By now you should have a good feel for your data, where you are getting it, how you are validating it, and the business intelligence tools you will be using to store it, but how will you manage it all? Managing your data is all about taking your baseline information and figuring out how you are going to keep it fresh, maintain it and use it going forward.
This is referred to as the project data lifecycle, and it is fundamental to the success of your migration intelligence strategy. The best way to reduce the cost and time of your IT migration is to eliminate the waste. Therefore, part of successfully managing your data is data rationalization, and the largest target is applications.
You may be starting from a validated cast of thousands and each application, should you take it forward, increases project time and cost. It has to be packaged, tested, deployed, supported and licensed. This takes resources, impacts readiness, and it certainly adds complexity. That’s why rationalizing your application data is a project must do!
5) Drive Your Project
With migration intelligence solutions in place, you’ve set your project up for success. The final stage is all about using your data to drive better your project delivery. The principal here is that good, qualified data equals better and more accurate decisions. Data intelligence equals better identification of acceleration opportunities and faster reaction to change.
IT transformation projects sit right at the interface between IT and business users. While active, they can drive the perception of the entire IT department. Inevitably, there is pressure to minimize both cost and timelines, but utilizing intelligent data offers plenty of opportunities to achieve both of these goals without compromising the program. Not only is migration intelligence can not only accelerate your IT transformation, but it can be vital to your project success.
No matter where you are in your migration planning, the time to start your data conversation is now. If you have any questions or concerns about Windows 10 migration following this blog post, let us show you what you might have been missing.
If you want to learn more how to leverage Data for your upcoming desktop migration project, download our eBook "Five Steps to Accelerating Windows 10 Migration Using Big Data" by clicking below.