IMR Automotive Research Migrates Data Platform to Azure, Drives Better Customer Experience and Reduces Costs

Cloud Migration Saves Company 60% in Monthly Costs

Written By // Jeff Lanham

Automotive Research
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Westmont, IL

IMR’s client-facing data platform was growing in both size and complexity. While the company’s legacy infrastructure was still profitable, the cost of licensing was quickly adding up. Additionally, processing billions of data points could take weeks, which meant customers weren’t getting the most current data as frequently as possible.

IMR knew that in order remain a valued partner to their customers, they needed to reduce costs and provides customers with real-time insights wherever and whenever they requested them. Azure offered a more dynamic, scalable, flexible solution than their outdated Rackspace VMs.

IMR Automotive Research has been providing customers with syndicated and propriety market research studies focused on the automotive industry since 1975. Appearing in numerous industry association fact books, status reports, and automotive industry publications, IMR’s market research has become the industry standard due to the company’s longevity and commitment to consistency and accuracy.

Beyond their commitment to producing successful research studies, IMR recognizes that maintaining strong and meaningful relationships with their customers is a key element of their success. At the core of those relationships are the online business intelligence platform and services that deliver quick and reliable access to their research, insights, and analytics. These services enable customers to make sense of a massive library of data by easily searching and analyzing insights that are relevant to their market and needs.

Meeting the Growing Needs of the Business

In the beginning, IMR teamed up with SWC to build an online solution for delivering their syndicated research and business intelligence solutions to customers. Originally, the solution was built on a Rackspace VM, where they also hosted production Web applications. As the company grew, they needed a better way to support their expanding database. Concurrently, technology was evolving; the business knew they needed to leverage the latest innovations to meet the modern demands of customers who expect near-immediate access to their data anytime, anywhere.

While the company’s current infrastructure was still profitable, their database had grown in both size and complexity over the years. They had accumulated billions of data points and were regularly adding more Rackspace Virtual Machines (VMs) to handle all the storage that was happening. The licensing costs for Rackspace VMs were expensive, and the cost was adding up quickly.

Perhaps more concerning was the impact these legacy systems could potentially have on customer experience. Processing all their data could take weeks, which meant customers weren’t getting the most current data as frequently as possible. Additionally, the wait time to surface data through their business intelligence tool was taking longer than should be expected. A customer would enter a query, hit “go,” and wait up to 20 minutes to get their data depending on the complexity of their query.

IMR knew that in order remain a valued partner to their customers, they needed to reduce costs and provides customers with real-time insights wherever and whenever they requested them.

Improving Performance with Azure Cloud Platform

While the IMR team were experts in the automotive research industry, they did not have significant experience in migrating data to a new cloud platform. Rather than trying to start from the ground up, they tapped their existing partnership with SWC to help migrate their legacy platform to the Azure in the cloud to save time, money, and improve the user experience.

The first objective of the initiative was to move IMR off analysis services to an Azure SQL database. Azure offered a more dynamic, scalable, flexible solution than their outdated Rackspace VMs. During this process, SWC conducted a thorough analysis of the company’s data to ensure data quality was improved through the transition. Once in Azure, IMR was able to benefit from the PaaS services which did not exist in Rackspace. This meant they could significantly reduce costs as they were no longer paying enterprise licensing to host Rackspace. As the company’s data grew with the business, they would be able to scale their architecture with a flip of a switch.

Realizing Business Value in the Cloud

With the successful re-launch of their syndicated research platform in Azure, IMR was able to realize a streamlined solution that promoted easy data input and better user experience. This meant greater efficiency and profitability for the business.

Some of the main benefits IMR was able to realize through the Azure migration included:

1) Cost: Moving to Azure saved the company approximately 60% in monthly costs. In Azure, IMR was able to eliminate unnecessary hardware costs. Greater flexibility and scalability in Azure also meant they were able to scale up or down depending on the business needs, and only pay for what they used.

2) Productivity: As the company’s database continued to expand and become more robust, running queries on Rackspace meant a lot of tedious management. In Azure, many of the manual maintenance tasks were eliminated. What once took days or weeks to process new data, could now be completed in seconds.

3) Customer Experience: Better performance in Azure meant significant improvements to the customer experience. Customers no longer had to wait a significant amount of time for their queries to upload. They could access their data almost instantly.

4) Reliability: IMR recognized that any technology downtime would not only impact productivity and profitability but also damage the relationship between their business and its customers. With a 99.99% availability guarantee in Azure, IMR was able to significantly benefit from greater reliability in the cloud.

5) Future Opportunities: The Azure cloud platform is constantly changing and innovating. This has created exciting opportunities for IMR to increase efficiency in ways that will save time, money, and ultimately enable their team to focus on more value-added initiative that drives the business forward.

Plans for the Future

With the momentum of their recent success, IMR is expanding their partnership with SWC through Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. Through this program, SWC is helping IMR stay ahead of the curve by road-mapping plans for future rollouts, assisting with implementation, driving user adoption, and providing ongoing managed services.

With the ability to more easily and readily access the latest innovations in the cloud, IMR is excited about future opportunities to expand their products and services to drive the company’s mission forward.

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