This central government department is reliant on the work of specialist analysts, such as mathematicians and statisticians. These analysts understand the complex relationships between socio-economic variables and build models for the organisation. The analysts test these models against data, generate results, and then turn these results into a graphical form that is useful to senior people in the government department. While this process has always produced useful insight for the government department, the organisation was keen to move away from a legacy method of working that meant its analysts stored data locally on their laptops. It wanted to build a centralised system and secure environment to enable secure and collaborative data modelling – which is where Mango Solutions provided expert assistance.
Many of the government department’s analysts were analysing data using “R”, a programming language for statistical computing and graphics, on their laptops. While the process worked, it was also risky – if the analyst mislaid their laptop, then the valuable piece of analysis they were working on could potentially fall into the wrong hands, putting the security of the department’s information at risk.
The department was keen to build a more effective IT infrastructure, but it also wanted the new environment to help its analysts become even more productive. The organisation was looking for a productionisation process that would allow its analysts to work in the same way, but via a much more structured and less risky IT environment. The department didn’t want to put too much restriction on how its analysts work, but they also wanted to make sure that the data modelling work they had undertaken was well-managed and secure.
While that tighter form of management would provide clear benefits to the department, it was also hoped that it would create plus-points for the analysts – rather than data being stored locally, the department was looking for a system that would store the analysts’ work centrally. This centralisation process would aim to feed all data into a single platform, making it easier for analysts to share information and collaborate on models.
It was hoped the centralisation process would also give analysts access to more computing power. Under the existing arrangement, analysts that worked locally on their laptops were restricted by the power of the device they were using. By creating a collaborative network, the department hoped analysts would be able to use the power of a bigger, centralised system to undertake high-level number crunching.
The government department was aware of Mango Solutions’ work with other public organisations, including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and explained how its analysts were using R on their laptops. They explained how they were looking for a centralised computer system that would allow their analysts to work in a similar way, but to do so across a secure system that would make collaboration and information management much easier.
One potential solution might have been to build the new platform on the cloud. But due to governance issues, and restrictions on how public organisations can use the cloud to store data, the government department was eager to create a system that could be managed on-premise in its own data centre.
Mango listened to the requirements of the department and helped establish an internally managed, centralised infrastructure for its R products. Mango also helped to provision a programmers’ workbench, providing a platform for the analysts to write code.
The government department was keen to make sure the analysts’ data output could be accessed and consumed by other people around the organisation as easily as possible. The publishing platform RStudio Connect was implemented to help the government department’s decision makers access and use the analysts’ data models and graphical outputs.
The centralised system that Mango helped to create for the department is run in a server environment, which means the analysts can still work on their laptops but can also draw on the power of a centralised computing platform. This environment provides the analysts with the capacity they need to both store data and run higher-level modelling.
The infrastructure that Mango helped to create provides a high-performance platform that allows the government department’s analysts to collaborate in a safe and secure environment. The data-modelling outputs produced by the analysts are now stored in a centralised environment which is used by senior managers to help them make better decisions. Mango continues to help manage the platform and is on hand to provide expert advice as and when required.