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Software as a Service Considerations

Monday, May 2, 2011

With all the hype and increasing popularity of SaaS BI, organizations are used to hearing the positive aspects of using a SaaS BI solution. Some of these include:

  1. BI as a service vs. the effort required to develop and deploy an in-house solution
  2. No additional hardware required
  3. Lower initial implementation costs
  4. Subscription licensing models
  5. Professional services expertise

These areas represent common benefits for companies interested in SaaS offerings.  For smaller businesses and targeted applications, the use of SaaS may be the most practical way of integrating new BI applications within the organization due to quicker implementation times and lack of dependence on IT for long-term maintenance.

On the other hand are considerations that organizations should look at to identify whether SaaS BI represents the right choice for them:

  1. Growth over time – many SaaS providers charge based on users and data storage.  Initial implementations take into account current requirements but may not consider future growth, additional historical data captured, or end user expansion.  All of these areas can increase the yearly subscription fees astronomically.
  2. Full BI suites – although some exist, the reality is that most SaaS BI offerings are limited in overall scope of offering.  With Salesforce plug-ins being the most common application within the realm of analytics, organizations may have limited expansion options when trying to expand their BI use over time.
  3. Integration – Integration considerations remain a challenge for any organization.  Depending on the type of data sources required, limitations might exist.

Although an attractive choice for many, the value of SaaS doesn’t exist for every organization in the same way.  Businesses should use the above areas as a guide to determine and weigh the benefits and costs of SaaS versus traditional BI offerings.

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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