Successful journey into the cloud with Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS

Successful journey into the cloud With Qlik Sense SaaS

With the introduction of the Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS platform, we have seen a very large interest in the new offerings that the first-class analytics platform in the cloud provides to its users. Many of our customers are already running Qlik Sense Enterprise on Windows with great success but some of the new offerings available in the cloud is a compelling argument for moving to the cloud.

The main reasons are better self-service, better team collaboration, business automation, and of course going from a software paradigm to a service paradigm, reducing the TCO for the organization.

It is our experience that the process of proper planning of a cloud deployment greatly increases the chances of success. I have collected our key high-level topic from Stretch Qonnect that needs to be considered when approaching a Qlik Sense SaaS deployment or migration.

 

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Getting to know the users – SSO

In a modern organization, there is an expectation that once the users log in, they will automatically get access to all the systems they have access to without login in again, popularly called “single sign-on” (SSO). This allows the different system to recognize the users and the users access across the organization.

To get SSO to work correctly in Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS, you need to have an identity provider. If the organization already employs an identity provider, could be Azure AD, Okta, or other providers, it is the obvious choice. One of the benefits of using an existing identity provider is that the existing organizational structures, like groups and roles, can be deployed directly into Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS.

Getting the groups and roles from the SSO also enables the developers to incorporate row level security in the applications based on these groups, hence enabling an easy central control of data access.

One recommended thing to do before enabling the SSO on Qlik’s Cloud is to give your Qlik Sense cloud instance a telling name, like organization name or something or other that makes it easier for users to remember the URL and type the URL.  This is also important to do this before setting up the identity provider because usually this requires the URLs as part of the configuration and might not work if the URL is changed later.

 

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The shape of your cloud (solutions)

When deciding to move to the cloud there are a few different options.

One of the options is a straight migration where everything from the Windows environment is moved into the cloud and the Windows environment is after some time decommissioned.

The second option, an option we see with a lot of large corporations, is a multi-cloud solution where the Windows environment is retained but scaled down and the main user load is handled by the cloud, giving the users access to an updated Qlik Hub while retaining some of their functionality from the Windows environment.

The last option is a new Qlik Sense cloud deployment where the organization doesn’t have Qlik Sense or have an old QlikView environment and want to transition directly Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS.

 

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Lifting data and apps to the cloud

When setting up a Qlik Sense cloud environment there are two different options of making the data available for applications in the cloud. The first option is to have data in a Space. the second option is to place the data on a cloud file system like Google Cloud Storage, Amazon S3, Microsoft OneDrive and others.

When setting up a Qlik Sense cloud environment a decision needs to be made on which of these two options is going to be the primary way of accessing QVD-files as this has a direct impact on how the apps are developed.

The main consideration when deciding whether to move the data to the sized platform or to a cloud storage folder is that the built-in Qlik Data Catalog only function with data that are in the system and not residing in the cloud folders. Of course, one should always build one’s applications such that all references to connections and data files are controlled by variables to enable easy portability of applications and restructuring of files and connections.

Regarding getting the applications into the Qlik Sense cloud there are a few different options. The first is to manually upload them, the second is to use the Qlik Data Transfer tool which can be used to move the apps, and the third one is the multi-cloud solution where apps are reloaded on Qlik Sense Enterprise on Windows and are continuously uploaded to the Qlik Sense Cloud.

Depending on the amount of data, applications and chosen cloud configuration, the following options are available.

Manual option

The manual option for transferring applications and data into the Qlik Sense Cloud is a good solution if you have a few files and applications and it’s not possible or convenient to set up the Qlik Data Transfer Tool in the environment. For medium size organizations, the Qlik Data Transfer Tool or other automated solutions might be a better solution than doing it manually because usually they will have many applications and the data files that needs to be moved and the manual option isn’t time efficient or repeatable.

Qlik Data Transfer Tool

The Qlik Data Transfer Tool can move existing applications and existing files into the Qlik Sense cloud, and it can also generate QVD files from existing on-premise databases or other sources and move those into the cloud on a schedule.

This tool is really good for medium-sized organizations. For large organizations, this tool might be limited as there’s a limit to how complex queries you can make against the on-premise databases. The tool also requires a Windows Server running in the organization.

 

Multi-Cloud

The multi-cloud solution is an option where a Qlik Sense Enterprise on Windows instance keeps running in the organization’s environment and is used to reload applications and push those to the Qlik Sense Cloud. It can also be used to generate QVD files which are synchronized to a cloud storage and can be accessed in the Qlik Sense cloud environment. This is a good option if you have large on-premise databases that cannot be accessed from the cloud due to bandwidth or security considerations. This also enables the possibility of more complex queries against on-premise systems and to maintain a more traditional ETL Qlik process, as a full Qlik Sense application can be used for ETL. The downside of this solution is that it will retain a Windows Server running in the organization, though this server can be scaled down quite a bit and if you’re running a cluster, the cluster can most likely be downscaled to a single or two servers. This option also requires a multi-cloud license of Qlik Sense.

Hybrid Delivery

A hybrid delivery option is a recent option from Qlik where Qlik Data Integration solution is used to continuously move data from on-premise sources or cloud environments into QVD files in the Qlik Sense cloud environment. This option is a good fit for maintaining a QVD-layer of time-sensitive data. The added benefit is that the ETL flow is managed by the Qlik Data Integration platform (QDI).

Direct Access

The direct access option is where Qlik Sense SaaS directly access on-premise databases or cloud data warehouses and all ETL flows are done as per normal in Qlik Sense in the cloud with the extract and transformation applications. This solution is closest to a straightforward migration from a Windows environment to the cloud environment. This option requires that the Qlik Sense cloud is allowed to access to the desired systems directly from the cloud.

If you are planning to build and deploy to a new cloud platform where direct access is an option, this should often be the preferred option.

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Organizing Your Cloud

With the introduction of the Qlik Sense cloud platform, Qlik has switched from the Stream concept to a Space concept. Streams were mainly used to organize and control access to applications. On the other hand Spaces can the thought of as logical areas where connections, QVD-files, other files, applications, links, and other assets can be stored, accessed, and developed on. The Spaces are used to organize and control access.

A common structure is to have an extract Space(s) and transform Space(s) and where the different layers of your QVD layers reside and have Spaces for the different business functional areas. The access to the Spaces can be controlled such that some users can have access to for instance the Transform Space, but not the Extract Space. The data in Spaces can be used between the different applications if the developer has access to that data in these Spaces. This makes organizing the Qlik Sense cloud a bit different from organizing a Windows environment.

There are different types of Spaces for different use cases.

The Personal Space is a space where the users can get access to their own applications and own data. The content cannot be accessed by or shared with other users. Generally, no Production Applications or data should be dependent on assents in a Personal Space.

The Shared Space is a Space designed and intended to be used as a Collaboration Space between different users where data and applications can be shared and developed as a team. These are often used for the ETL works, where applications and data are stored in this Space.

The Managed Spaces are intended as Production Spaces where the managed applications can be published to the organization.

The Data Space is as the name suggests a Space that is designed to contain data and only data. These are useful for enabling strict data access without the option for having applications and data in the same Space.

The key to a successful Qlik Sense cloud deployment is to plan out user requirements and workflows and deploy Spaces to support these.

This is something  Stretch Qonnect have great experience with and where we are happy to share this with you to make your Qlik Sense Cloud journey as smooth and good as possible.

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One place to all things Qlik (and related)

When adding a new solution to an organization a key consideration is that you want the users to have one point of access to access everything that is related to, for instance, Qlik.

Qlik has enabled this in a couple of ways. Firstly, it is possible to upload QlikView applications to the cloud and run them there.

Secondly, it is possible to create links to two other applications or basically any other URLs on the intranet or Internet. This enables the integrations of direct links to Qlik Sense and QlikView applications, which reside on the on-premise solution because they for various reasons cannot be moved to the cloud. Hence the users don’t have to utilize the old hub or access point to access on-premise applications.

This feature also enables the creation of links to other relevant resources like documentation, help-site, IT-support, or other related systems that is useful for the user in their workflow.

Bringing it all together

The best advice from my side is to get hold of your Qlik partner and get access to the cloud and try it out well in advance of deployment. Running at trial deployment with a subset of power users will greatly contribute to knowledge to get the organization and structure of the deployment close to right. By considering the steps above you will hopefully be off to a good start.

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