Can anybody point me to some good resources for starting a conversation with the IT department about making R, rstudio, shiny etc an accepted part of software kit?


#1

A nice twitter thread was started below about a day ago.

Feel free to use this space for longer replies.


#2

As a research group in a hospital, my workplace started to get shiny server pro in 2015. Then we migrated to RStudio Connect at the end of 2016. One year later, we started to use rstudio server. I guess now we are ready to say we have a set of cloud infrastructure.

I think two aspects might help in the process of negotiation. First of all, as many people have mentioned in their posts, you probably want to make sure IT people understand that someone in your group (probably you if you are reading this thread) will take the responsibility of maintaining that server and they trust this person. A lot of times, what IT understands "taking something as an accepted part of software kit" means that they will need to maintain it. I won't be surprised to hear a rejection if they have never heard about this product in their universe. To make this happen, having a trust relationship between IT and you might be helpful. At least they know someone other than them will do the job. In my case, I was sort of lucky because before I joined the group in 2014, someone else has already done this step to host something else. Things were a little easier as instead of IT, I communicated with that person instead to get the server setup.

Second, it might be a smart idea to "lure" your audience step by step. The first step is definitely the shiny thing. Let people know what they can get with the power of shiny. Build a few experimental dashboards to show the possibility. Maybe consider to do a market research on if people wants to build similar products in other environment, how much it will cost. (I'm not saying you can think about contacting SAS and get a quote for their dashboard product.) For rstudio server, I think being able to let someone start to work without setting up the environment again and again, to manage and update all R packages daily and that project sharing feature are the three biggest selling points to other people.

I hope it helps.


#3

Reposting a few links from my Twitter reply, plus a few other thoughts...

First, some resources from @nathan:

This PDF with some common questions and answers for IT is also a good resource for starting a conversation about supporting R.

If your organization is a Windows-only shop but you'd like to use RStudio Server, Shiny Server, or RStudio Connect, ask IT if they can provision a Virtual Machine with a supported distribution of Linux installed. If they tell you that they don't have any experience working with Linux, ask around! If you're part of a large organization, you might find that someone has had to set up and maintain a Linux server at some point. If all else fails and you're up to the challenge, try setting a server up yourself. You may find that it's not as difficult as it seems at first, and you'll build some valuable skills in the process.

I agree that demonstrating how powerful Shiny and R Markdown are can kickstart the process. A lot of decision-makers and other folks in IT don't understand how Shiny is different than other dashboarding tools you may already have that just filter/aggregate a table of data. If you can build a killer app to demonstrate that it's more powerful than whatever tools you already have access, it may help convince them to support the tools you need. (@nathan and his team have put together some great examples at solutions.rstudio.com.)

If you're considering one of RStudio's commercial products like RStudio Server Pro or RStudio Connect, you can always reach out to our sales team even if you're not sure if you have the infrastructure available to support those products. If you're hoping to start with an open source copy of RStudio Server or Shiny Server, this forum is a great place to get some advice.

A few comments have suggested that it's easier to acquire the tools that you need if you're able to and ask for forgiveness later. I think that's a fairly common way that these tools come to be supported, and something I've experienced in the past. But my personal opinion is that things will go much more smoothly long-term if you're able to have a conversation with IT first and get everyone to buy into the ecosystem.