West Virginia University Foundation

Business Intelligence

West Virginia University Foundation

The West Virginia University Foundation was created specifically to maximize charitable support and provide useful services to the university and its affiliates – all with the common goal of enriching the lives of students, alumni and anyone impacted by the university.

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Nestled in the mountains of Morgantown, West Virginia University is one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most iconic educational institutions. Founded as a public, land-grant university in 1867, they serve a diverse student body that averages nearly 30,000 students. Their mission is to advance education, opportunity and prosperity in West Virginia and throughout the globe.

Aiding the university in its mission is the West Virginia University Foundation. The Foundation was created specifically to maximize charitable support and provide useful services to the university and its affiliates. Their activities include fundraising for a wide variety of initiatives, including scholarships, athletics, student life – all with the common goal of enriching the lives of students, alumni and anyone impacted by the university.

A Better Way to Host Tableau Server

Like many organizations, the Foundation came across Tableau and were impressed with its ability to present information in a visually stunning manner, let alone the ease with which its staff could build intuitive reports in a matter of minutes. They knew Tableau would be a game changer; the only question now was how to make the most of their Tableau investment.

The first logical step was to book the right Tableau trainer to get them off the ground and up and running on their own. Having heard good things about InterWorks, they reached out to us and booked Tableau Desktop 1 training. To supplement their training, they also booked three days of ad hoc Tableau consulting with our North Central Regional Practice Lead, Charlie Sanders. With Charlie sharing how to construct ideal dashboards for their unique dataset and their users being trained on how to keep the efforts going, the Foundation could guarantee success with Tableau for years to come.

Fast-forward two years: The Foundation had been using Tableau successfully and was ready to facilitate Tableau adoption on a larger scale. Up until this point, they had been using internal hosting and Active Directory to manage their Tableau users. While Active Directory is good for many things, it wasn’t ideal for their vision of Tableau. They had been creating reports internally with great success, but the next step in their Tableau evolution was to be able to share these reports publicly. To do this, they knew they needed a new platform.

The ability to easily share dashboards wasn’t the only consideration in their desire to switch platforms. They also needed something that could deliver peak performance, as well as scalability, for their rapidly growing user base. After some deliberation, they decided Microsoft Azure was the perfect fit for their needs. Even so, picking out a technology was only half the battle. Migrating a Tableau Server full of existing dashboards and data sources is no easy, everyday task. Before doing anything, they wanted to make sure that they were proceeding in the right way, so they called for a little extra help from their old friends at InterWorks. InterWorks gladly accepted the challenge, and our Enterprise Strategy Lead, Mat Hughes, immediately got in contact with them to discuss their migration needs.

Keys to Speedy Migration

  • Power Tools: Deployment
  • User management assistance
  • Expert Server stand-up

The Right Tool for the Job

After listening carefully to their needs, Mat knew that InterWorks could deliver. Even better, he knew of a way to drastically cut Server migration time from days into hours. What could possibly speed up a Server migration in such a way? Power Tools for Tableau: Deployment. Years of Server migration and deployment experience prompted InterWorks to create this tool. Though it was certainly built for clients, our own consultants have been using it in their work for years. Such was the case here. Using Power Tools: Deployment, the InterWorks team could successfully migrate dashboards, data sources and any other relevant pieces in minutes.

When the time came to migrate the Foundation’s Tableau Server to Microsoft Azure, the transition was seamless and went exactly to plan. Those who have done server migrations in the past know just what a feat that is. With the Server now officially on Azure, the next step involved re-creating users from the ground up, ensuring the right permissions were in place and concentrating data sources in Azure. InterWorks data engineer Matthew Brimer gladly assisted in this endeavor and got everything squared away in just a few days.

A Foundation for Success

For the Foundation, migration is just the beginning. InterWorks helped them make a pivotal change quickly and effectively. With Tableau Server now running optimally and user management sorted out, they’re confident in their ability to take Tableau to the next level by sharing their work more publicly. This has huge implications for their mission. By being able to share insights through Tableau to their stakeholders, they’ll be able to make more effective, collaborative decisions that are rooted in data.

The Foundation is also looking to keep their momentum going on other fronts. With analytics infrastructure now in place, a new initiative at the Foundation is looking deeper at data quality. InterWorks will help them in this endeavor with an extensive data exploration engagement, where we’ll work closely with the Foundation to optimize their data at its most fundamental level. The end result is an analytics practice ideally suited to a progressive university.

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