GE Cyber Security Delivers Analytics Solutions that Power Business
GE Cyber Security works to protect internal networks, infrastructure, and software products to ensure continuous delivery of secure services to customers across the globe. And it’s GE Cyber’s Data & Analytics team that’s responsible for fostering a data-driven approach to all mission-critical projects undertaken by internal Cyber teams — standing at the helm of GE Cyber’s journey toward data modernization and digital transformation.
Over the past three years, the Data & Analytics team has created a dynamic and evolving self-service analytics environment with Sisense and AWS Redshift that allows its internal customers access to faster and more accurate data — without the bottlenecks.
Moving past the traditional BI team model
Three years ago, GE Cyber’s data strategy was two-pronged. On one hand, the data and analytics team operated under a traditional BI team model. A BI Analyst would meet with different customers throughout the GE Cyber org, gather their analytics requirements, and explore their data. Six to eight weeks later, their dashboards were ready.
Like any fast-moving organization, data and requirements often changed between the initial meeting and the delivery of the solution. A few more weeks were added to the timeline for tweaks and iterations.
But on the other hand, the team had started dabbling in self-service analytics, with positive results. It was time to build a data strategy fit for a modern enterprise. “We could see how slow this traditional model was — and we knew we couldn’t scale it,” says Jon Francisco, Data & Analytics Team Leader at GE Cyber. “At the time, we had a few motivated BI customers taking the self-service option and we saw their outcomes were delivered faster with much fewer iterations than the traditional model.”
It was time to go all-in on self-service analytics.Jon Francisco, Data & Analytics Team Leader at GE
Three custom analytics environments for delivering self-service BI
To provide internal customers with the most current data, Jon and the team explored a variety of options for delivering self-service capabilities to the GE Cyber org. Ultimately, three separate environments were developed to ensure flexibility and security.
- A self-service “playground” environment – Here, customers have the ability to make connections to data, develop their underlying data models, and create data visualizations in a shared environment — referred to internally as the Sisense Sandbox. Within this space, customers can iterate with their teams to fine-tune their visualizations to meet business outcomes as quickly as possible.
- A production environment – Once the development on a specific effort settles down, customers use an internal request form to promote their data models and dashboards to Sisense Production. This is a read-only environment.
- A secure environment – The final environment is similar to the production environment but reserved for use cases leveraging sensitive cyber security data only available to users with proper clearance.
Migrating to the cloud with AWS
One of the most critical hurdles for making the same data consistently available across the entire GE Cyber org was migrating data workloads, including Sisense, from legacy on-prem infrastructure to the cloud. At an ETL and database level, Jon has led an incremental migration from on-prem to AWS.
We’ve essentially built a cyber technology data lake leveraging S3 and a data warehouse with Redshift. We can then hook Sisense directly into Redshift to visualize our data.Jon Francisco, Data & Analytics Team Leader at GE
Now, Jon’s team hosts their business intelligence environments on AWS on EC2 instances and have completely automated their analytics deployment using Terraform — with a click of a button, they can deploy a completely new Sisense environment. This capability enables the patching strategy for GE Cyber’s servers; instead of manually hardening the EC2s, the team can simply spin up completely new Sisense environments that include the latest security patches.
“Other solutions typically require integrating several products, which makes migrating to the cloud cumbersome, not to mention upgrading different products over time, adding time to testing/QA, and then hoping they all play nicely together in production,” says Jon.
Because Sisense is a single-stack solution, providing everything from data prep to visualization, we only needed to migrate one analytics product to our cloud infrastructure.Jon Francisco, Data & Analytics Team Leader at GE
The way forward
For Jon and the rest of GE Cyber’s Data & Analytics team, all of their hard work is paying off. The day-to-day operations of the platform today is much more automated than it was 12 months ago — enabling the team to spend more time on staying a step ahead of customer needs or experimenting with cutting edge technologies.
With plans to move to Sisense’s Linux version, GE Cyber is looking forward to an even more advanced environment, purpose-built to natively allow for automation and streamlining workflows, as compared to Windows architecture.
For the organization, time and money saved is, of course, considered a huge win. Says Jon, “Over time, the compounded results of this solution started to add up.”
- Through automated monitoring and remediation actions, 80% of manual operational tasks have been eliminated
- Environment Deployment/Upgrades now take 4 hours instead of 2 days.
- By leveraged S3 lifecycle policies for archiving data retention, Jon and the team have reduced storage costs by approximately 83% in GE Cyber’s data lake.
- Infrastructure costs to host our business intelligence software has decreased by 54%.
But for Jon and the team, delivering more integrated data experiences to end users was always the number one goal. “At the end of the day it’s all about our customer’s experience and enabling them to deliver on their business outcomes,” says Jon in closing. We provide our customers an extremely robust, cutting-edge analytics platform, but at the same time, it’s easy for them to be creative in its uses so they can help keep our company safe.
Every day we live by the motto ‘Our success is only determined by our customers’ success.’Jon Francisco, Data & Analytics Team Leader at GE