Case Study: New Scalable Data Solution Powered by Microsoft Azure Data Factory Saves Not-For-Profit 95% in Maintenance Costs

Learn how a not-for-profit education company avoided massive challenges by using Microsoft Azure Data Factory and reduced their data pipeline cost by 95%.

Executive Summary

A child- and education-focused not-for-profit supporting underserved populations needed help with their legacy data pipeline process that was suddenly out of budget. Working closely with the client’s priorities and business needs, Withum saw the transformative potential of Microsoft Azure Data Factory to provide a cost-friendly, scalable data solution that will take the company into its next phase.

The Client

The client is a medium-sized not-for-profit company with locations throughout the East Coast and Midwest. The not-for-profit has helped over 55,000 students achieve literacy goals by focusing primarily on underserved populations. The organization was crucial in providing resources to combat the many challenges that came about abruptly with virtual learning requirements.

The Challenge

Being not-for-profit, the client has always had to stay lean with their IT approach and operates with a limited technology budget. A critical part of their process was to expect data to flow from Salesforce to an on-premises database connected to their employees’ main application for tracking time, events and payroll. The initial setup used a legacy Extract, Transform Load (ETL) tool from over a decade ago when the business model and processes differed. Recently, the client was suddenly informed that not only was the ETL tool contract coming up for renewal in one month but that the price would increase by over 17% from the already untenable five-figure number. The client was immediately faced with a shrinking budget and little time to find an alternative.

Due to using an outside vendor in the past (later supplemented by freelancers to piecemeal any updates), there was no internal knowledge of the setup. All servers were managed by a managed service provider (MSP), but the internal team also lacked knowledge of the assets being managed. With the current vendor not allowing flexibility or having the willingness to negotiate, the client was becoming desperate.

The Approach and Solution

Withum worked with the client and their MSP to rebuild the data pipelines in a pay-as-you-go service in Microsoft Azure called Data Factory. Due to the lack of internal knowledge of the legacy technology, a very thorough but agile approach was taken to gather and synthesize information. Through this comprehensive approach, Withum gained a deep understanding of how the previous applications served the business and what dependencies the applications had on the business data. This allowed for selecting the right technology and a blueprint for the necessary data engineering. After over a decade of evolution for the company, it was important to right-size the velocity and volume while upholding the veracity of the client’s data.

The Results, ROI

Because of the flexible nature of Azure resources, the client can easily understand how their solution works and what questions to ask in the future.

The client was able to decline the renewal of their legacy service contract avoiding the 17% rate hike. More astoundingly, they are saving 95% of their monthly cost on average by using Microsoft Azure Data Factory vs. what they would have been paying. Beyond these benefits, the client now has a scalable data solution that will allow them to control their costs as their needs grow and vary.

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