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BI Expansion in the Cloud

by Lyndsay Wise, President, WiseAnalyticsMonday, January 17, 2011

2010 showed promising BI expansion within the realm of cloud computing.  With increasing flexibility in database technologies, advanced analytics, and deployment models, organizations are re-examining how and where to deploy their business intelligence solutions.  The increasing availability of hosted solutions using Software as a Service (SaaS) models and its adoption has led to increased awareness of cloud-based infrastructures used as a way to host and manage information outside a firewall.  Due to the high level of data management requirements within a BI environment, companies are starting to look at ways to expand and diversify their use of data warehouse technologies, and this includes evaluation of cloud based data storage and data warehouse management.

2011 will see the increased use of cloud computing and BI as solution providers develop offerings that can be deployed internally or in the cloud.  The increasing flexibility of vendor options allows businesses to consider solutions that may have been accessible beforehand. 

This article looks at the increasing popularity of cloud computing and the use of business intelligence in the cloud.  It also examines general factors that organizations should consider when looking at cloud based BI and data management opportunities.

Popularity of Hosted Solutions

The advent of Software as a Service (SaaS) BI allows an organization’s business users to access sales and marketing analytics without having to worry about IT architecture and data management.  For the BI market as a whole, this concept has changed the way many companies look at their potential BI deployments.  With increasing comfort in having information hosted outside the firewall, developing a BI platform within a cloud infrastructure is not far off for some businesses.  In addition the general use of BI is becoming more broadly applied within organizations, leading to more visibility and potential benefits to a broader reach of people within the company.

Cloud ComputingNumerous organizations are now considering the cloud when looking at data warehousing and data management.  Consequently this interest and adoption leads to a continued increase in the availability of cloud-based BI solutions and the viability of deploying a data warehouse in the cloud.  Because of this companies can include additional options when considering data warehousing.  As the market becomes more competitive, companies will have more choice and therefore be in a better position to choose the type of solution that best meets their needs.

Now that BI solutions are maturing, more organizations are looking at using the cloud to build out their data infrastructure as well as test development environments.  Without increasing expenditures in terms of new hardware and expansions to internal IT infrastructure, the ability to house data in the cloud enables companies to look beyond their current, traditional data warehouse market.  The main difference between hosted solutions and those offered in the cloud is that businesses can manage their data on their own as opposed to accessing information as a service.

Finding the Right Fit

Increasing diversity in the marketplace leads to a larger variety of BI cloud opportunities. However, this doesn’t mean that cloud computing is right for every business. Before organizations jump on board with BI in the cloud they should think of the following considerations:

  1. The current IT environment – although BI is moving towards options where the internal IT infrastructure requirements are decreasing, in terms of cloud based deployment organizations still require a traditional BI approach.  This means that companies looking at the cloud need to understand that development and maintenance are still required, despite the fact they don’t need internal hardware.  For organizations not able to handle these requirements (but are still looking at an external approach to data warehousing) a hosted data warehouse solution may be more applicable. Both provide a similar approach, but without the high development and maintenance requirements.
  2. Internal expertise and available resources – the resources required for cloud based BI is similar to a traditional BI implementation.  An organization that uses this approach still needs to identify BI goals and determine how these goals will be managed (by data management, developers, and DBAs) once the data infrastructure is in place.
  3. Purpose of use and available offerings – in some cases there are existing cloud BI solutions that can be quickly deployed.  However, since the concept of BI in the cloud is still fairly new, there are solutions that will require time to mature so that they provide better value to organizations on a larger scale.
  4. Long term goals –another factor to consider is the long-term requirements of an organization.  Since this market is not yet mature it stands to reason that there will be a broader range of more robust solutions in the future.  In addition the breadth of solutions in the market place will also increase.  It is important for companies to keep this in mind when hosting data in the cloud to help with future expansion and general BI growth.

Opportunities for Cloud-Based Business Intelligence

Overall there are many options for companies that are considering BI in the cloud.  In addition the increase in vendor focus means that adoption of cloud computing will continue to increase and provide more diverse options for businesses considering these types of deployments.  Any sort of diversity within the BI market place will lead to benefits for end users, as increasing focus is placed on cutting costs, decreasing implementation time, and increasing value.

About the Author

Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.


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Discussion:

IT Manager said:

miyann offers a cloud based report delivery system with the added benefit of maintaining data on premise. There is no need to upload any report definitions or data and everything is live. This will be a huge benefit to those who do not want to store confidential data on third party servers. miyann combines the best of both worlds: a hosted solution free of maintenance headaches and the ability to protect and retain confidential data in-house.

In addition, there is a free Java report designer available, which cuts down greatly on license fees and allows development on any platform. It is free to use currently as it is in beta, but will be a very cost-effective subscription service (far less than any of the other options).

Hass Bey said:

Great article, find out more on the related subject @ biroadwarrior.com

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