Building a Business Case for Data Platform Modernisation

Building a business case for data platform modernisation

Data platform modernisation is on the forefront of the minds of many IT and business leaders – though some may not express it in those exact terms.

As a technical expert, you’re probably thinking about the upcoming end of support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2, improving performance and/or moving your data estate to the cloud. All the while the other heads of departments are indirectly expressing the same need when they look for solutions to help them drive sales, understand their customers or predict the next big product or opportunity.

The fact is, if you’re still attempting to secure your SQL Server upgrade funds, your business case needs to include both the technical and business perspectives. While often led by IT, the project is much bigger than a version change and its benefits are felt throughout the business.

Here are some key points to consider when building a business case to fund your SQL Server upgrade project.

Establish a modern data estate as a necessity in today’s data-driven world

Key to formulating a persuasive business case for a move to SQL Server 2017 is making it clear that this is not just an upgrade. It is about revolutionising your database environment for the new data-driven world.

The standout features of SQL Server 2017 include:

  • Enhanced in-memory performance
  • Built-in Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning
  • Adaptive Query Processing
  • Automatic Plan Correction
  • Extending Always-On Availability Groups
  • Graph Database support
  • Modern Connectors

Each of the above features are a direct benefit for business. At a high level they enable your organisation to do more with less. These features help to unlock the value in existing and future data assets. Plus they give you the ability to provide a better experience to internal and external customers.

The Business Intelligence capability in SQL Server 2017 is an important feature set to focus on and should form part of your business case. If your database environment does not support modern BI, there’s limited opportunity to transform your data into actionable intelligence to help inform strategic and tactical business decisions.

The opportunity cost of being stuck in an out-dated world is potentially even greater than the cost of maintaining ageing infrastructure and it’s a cost that only increases with time. The amount of effort and expense to stay put pales in comparison to the opportunities that await. What’s more, tying a modernisation project to measurable business improvement activity may mean the investment can be rolled into a CapEx project, making it an even more attractive option.

Understand and minimise your security and compliance risk

When SQL Server 2008 reaches end of life in July 2019, Microsoft will no longer release the security patches that your organisation might be relying on today to protect your data. This means your business data is now at a much greater risk.

There are also enormous governance implications. The lack of compliance may affect the risk and compliance rating of public companies, while all businesses may feel the impact on other certifications such as ISO, SOX, PCI DSS, your insurances, and who you can do business with. There are many high-profile examples, think Equifax, Sony and Target to get a true measure of the impact of security failures.

How will you answer: ‘What reasonable steps did you take to upgrade your environment’? The profitability and reputational damage of a breach is real and the cleanup costs potentially astronomical.

Legislation governing personal data protection is fast catching up. GDPR in the Europe impacts any company and potentially any ecommerce site that holds data on a European citizen. Breaches may attract a penalty up to €20million or four percent of company global revenue, whichever is greater. California looks likely to pass similar regulations and Australia’s own approach is also changing with the recent launch of the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme.

Our advice to IT leaders is to work with your own compliance team to help you understand and quantify the risks for your organisation – another critical point for your business case.

Quantify your new Total Cost of Ownership

The traditional model of buying and setting up SQL Server was individual applications on individual instances of SQL Server. If you’ve not invested in regular – or even semi-regular – upgrade initiatives, chances are you are paying a higher than necessary license bill due to ‘Server sprawl’ resulting in a larger than necessary SQL Server estate.

Modernising your environment provides a valuable opportunity to not only consolidate your database environment but achieve significant licence savings.

But this is not just about reducing the number of cores. When the core count is minimised, you also reduce the operational overhead of supporting the associated hardware.

Speak to an expert in the Microsoft Database Platform space to help you quantify the licensing savings you can make by modernising your existing environment or moving to Azure. WARDY IT Solutions can help you with this during a Data Platform Modernisation Assessment.

IT taking the lead in building a business case

SQL Server 2008 End of Life represents an excellent opportunity for IT to take a proactive business alignment role – to deliver on the business need and promote modernisation.

It also has the potential to elevate the function of IT in the eyes of the organisation. From a tactical, operational participant, IT can and should be directly involved in proposing significant improvements to business targets.

Not to mention, a modern database environment can help the IT team itself to attract and retain top technical talent. Your IT employees would rather be working on value-add projects than keeping an old system alive.

Get started today.