In my last post on this subject, I talked about the benefits of cloud computing, especially when it comes to deploying BI in the cloud. The advantages are numerous, but there are also drawbacks that need to be considered before responsibly moving forward. Here are some of the arguments we hear about from our customers and how business intelligence providers have already thought of ways to curb them:
Data security. Security is a concern for IT and business professionals alike. Since your business performance data is stored externally in a cloud model, data management and protection is in the hands of the provider – not your IT department. For regulated environments such as the pharmaceutical, healthcare and financial services industries however, data security is paramount and their information may never be stored off-site. However, it’s still possible to deploy your BI in the cloud even if your data needs to be stored on the premises. It simply involves storing your data on-site behind firewalls and running your queries and reports over the web in a browser. Your data never leaves the premises so you maintain your own data security, but you still benefit from less hardware costs and time saved from not having to install the BI software on every machine or mobile device. It’s a win-win. You can learn more about this particular style of deploying cloud BI in our webinar, A Roadmap for BI Cloud Computing, which is available as a recording here.
Data backup. Though it’s a cost-saving measure to dump your backup servers, having your backup and storage off-site can keep you up at night. If your company is dependent on the cloud provider’s backup and redundancy services to preserve data if any issues arise, you better hope you chose your vendor wisely :-). No seriously, the method we just touched on where data is actually stored on the premises is a compromise that can alleviate this issue.
“Cloud computing” is a term that’s thrown around a lot today, but it simply means accessing your data and applications without on-site infrastructure, i.e. in the cloud. Data processing, storage and backup, maintenance, administration and even troubleshooting are all taken care of by the service provider.
Some of us (like me) were skeptical when everything started being labeled as “cloud.” The thought of not having a trusted IT department maintain control of data and hardware was a little unsettling at first. But after considering the pros and cons of cloud computing (and also realizing that I use cloud services like Gmail and Salesforce.com every day without hesitation), the advantages became clear, even for business intelligence.
Implementing BI in the cloud is a dilemma for a lot of organizations we work with. They’re (rightly) concerned about data security, hardware failure, and anything that could take their reports offline, slow employees’ decision-making process, or expose valuable information to the wrong people. Those are all concerns that have been and continue to be addressed by cloud providers. Certainly data security and back-ups have become paramount to vendors offering cloud services. But as we hear less and less about massive cloud failures in the news and executives and IT managers get more comfortable with the cloud, we’ve seen a shift toward the cloud becoming acceptable for business intelligence deployments. Here’s why:
The cloud offers access to data, applications and other resources without the need for program installation. This equals major convenience when doing work on a portable device like a laptop, tablet PC or smartphone. Not only are your devices free from the clutter of numerous installs (which facilitates effective use of resources), but your company’s IT team isn’t bogged down with installing, reinstalling, and troubleshooting numerous devices for each employee. And since many of us work remotely occasionally, if not exclusively, a lightweight approach to accessing data is truly beneficial.
The focal point of many BI tools today is to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can analyze company data and make well-informed decisions. The ‘right people’ are not only the ones at the very top of the food chain; we find that decision makers exist at all levels. Thus, the sharing and exchange of information is increasingly important in modern businesses.
Collaborative BI is a growing trend that merges business intelligence and social media tools and amounts to business users determining what the most valuable and relevant data in their organization is and sharing it to improve decision-making across the board.
Collaborative BI often goes hand-in-hand with the term “self-service BI.” It makes sense, since self-service BI tools make it easy for business users to access and analyze data without having to go through IT. These trends are all about the 85% of potential users in an organization who normally don’t partake in BI, but can benefit from it as much as the other 15%.
Howard Dresner’s Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study was created as a way to give a voice to those actually using BI solutions (i.e., “crowdsourcing”), creating a new and different perspective for measuring BI vendors and products in the market.
This year’s study is up and running and we invite BI users to participate! If you have 10 minutes between today and April 2nd, please visit the following link and give your feedback:
In return, you’ll receive a copy of the study findings! Learn more about the study here and we look forward to seeing the results!