Following on from my first tip BI Platform in 3 months – Lesson #1 – Change your business owners engagement frequency the next area I wanted to cover is the challenge that is getting a hardware platform up and running.

Lesson #2 – Use IaaS you cant afford time to get servers

Assuming you are not building you BI platform on a distributed bunch of users laptops (remember SETI?) you will need to provision some servers.

In the past we were forced to go through the horrific process of buying physical servers, waiting for them to arrive, rack and stack them (assuming you aren’t hiding them under the project desk 😉 and then cross our fingers as we go to login for the first time to start the software installs.

It has been known for some hardware vendors to take upto 6 weeks to deliver the servers once ordered. A timeframe which will kill your 3 month project. Not to mention the time it often takes to have them added to the data center racks once they do arrive.

One option to mitigate this (and a few other issues) is to use Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The theory being that you log into a self service portal, configure your server, hit the go button and it provisions itself.

We have experience using overseas providers in the IaaS space, such as RackSpace and Amazon AWS. And they really have nailed the process allowing us to provision servers in minutes. They even have easy (ish) to use pricing calculators to work out what your going to get charged each month.

Of course if your doing a project for NZ Government, then the perception that they can’t store any data offshore (not true) coupled with the IaaS AOG deal means your going to have to deal with Datacom, IBM or Revera (Now Telecom), which is what we had to do.

Although some of the areas weren’t as easy as the overseas providers, we were able to provision the required servers in less than a day (plus a day or 2 working out how it all worked, what it cost etc before hand, that we wont need next time!)

So one day rather than 6 weeks is a must for a 3 month project!

(The other option of course is to purchase and provision the hardware before you start the 3 month clock)