Tag Archives: architecture

Advantages of moving BI into the cloud

30 Apr

As the cloud technology taking its turn to bring in a new revolution in this competitive IT world, organizations using Business Intelligence (BI) are keen to evaluate the benefits and risks involved in moving to a cloud based solutions. Enterprises believe this emerging technology as one of the complexity minimizer with respect to positioning their vast data warehouse and help them to simplify their task in making decisions.

Companies had already established and started implementing strategies in moving their in-house applications and production applications into cloud. However, it’s a highly perplexed scenario in case of a BI deployment into cloud. For example, let us consider a company that is intended to make a decision using their Big Data. (Big data is nothing but the term that describes the voluminous amount of unstructured and semi-structured data that are created by an Organization i.e., data that would take too much time and cost too much money to load into a relational database for analysis). Gartner research says the data capacities of the enterprises are growing at 40 to 60% per year. Another research says an enterprise would need a minimum of 2 to 3 years of combined data for analysis and decision making.

So by considering the research factors,

  • Do you believe it is possible for the company to make decision by storing voluminous amount of unstructured and semi-structured data in an excel sheet or any other application?
  • Do you believe this can achieved without a cloud solution?

It is certainly “Yes” for a few and “Never” for most of the enterprises. However, companies saying “Yes” without cloud solution end up with expensive, slower and harder solution. Eventually the companies saying “No” now have the option of moving their business intelligence and data warehousing applications into cloud using experienced solution providers like ZSL.

The anticipated research report of Gartner states that globally 70% of companies will be hosting BI in the cloud. By this research consideration, BI software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a viable alternative for companies’ planning to migrate their data warehousing and data mart infrastructure.

Risk while opting for a Cloud BI

Choosing a Vendor: Choosing a cloud BI vendor is very critical. Every big player has a cloud computing service or platform and claim to be powerful, easy-to-use, flexible and affordable. So how do you pick the one that is right for you?

Primarily research and gather information on the list of Cloud BI service providers. Once you have a list in hand, you will have to gather some fundamental information involving availability, security, performance, and customer service from them.

Assemble a list of providers. You can gather this information from magazine and news sources. You can get referrals from other businesses or business or industry groups. You can look to IT research companies, such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. You can also hire outside consultants to help your company find the right fit in a cloud computing vendor. In addition, there may be providers that specialize in solutions for your industry.

Once you have a list of prospective vendors, you need to gather answers to some fundamental questions involving availability, security, performance, and customer service. From the these information, the best way is to follow high-level, yet restrictive, criteria and only then compare them on a feature-by-feature basis.

Meeting your Business Requirements: Be sure to carefully consider your business requirements and go with a vendor that meets them. You may risk going with a smaller vendor, but you are more likely to get the BI deployment you want.

Availability: It’s important to understand if the service is deployed on an underlying infrastructure that is backed up with a meaningful service level agreement. The level of availability you need depends on the criticality of the service to your business. Nevertheless you’re looking to move your business intelligence systems to the cloud, it’s likely very important for the cloud service to be highly available. However, for moving secondary application you might not require high availability of the cloud solution.

Security: The biggest objection about cloud computing is security, taking corporate information outside the four walls. It should be notable that vendor’s may use the same server to host even your competitors data. Most vendors go about cloud security through the conventional means of various levels of encryption, firewalls, etc. So make sure where is the vendor server that hosts your data center and what is their business continuity during natural disasters? This will give you a satisfactory figure of how your vendor will be able to manage your data in a secured way.

Performance: As the cloud services gets matured; companies are expecting performance metrics from the vendors to support the growing business critical systems that make their business run. They expect a better performance than when it was on their own data center. So test your vendors asking how does the cloud service provider define performance? What metrics do they use? How does their definition of performance relate to end user satisfaction?

Customer Service: As a company you need to analyze the vendor yourself by

  • How quickly does a vendor return your calls?
  • How open are they in discussing what kind of technology they use or who their providers are and how often they have downtime?
  • What servers they use and the software they run and their disaster recovery plans?

There are few other ways to measure a vendor’s merit, as well.

  • Ask for referrals and check up on as many as you can.
  • If you’re thinking about moving a highly critical business application to the cloud, ask to visit their data center as it will tell you a lot about their capability. And, obviously, check whether the vendor is ready to sign a service level agreement (SLA).
  • If the vendor relies on other software and hardware and infrastructure players to keep their service up and running, make sure all the promises in the underlying SLAs align properly.
  • Check whether your vendor is confident enough to take up the project. If they are willing to include penalties in the SLA. You really want to make sure that there is confidence in the service, If the underlying providers are willing to share some level of risk in delivery, it’s a good indicator those vendors are confident in their infrastructure.

TCO: Companies need to ultimately evaluate their total cost of ownership ahead of implementing a cloud BI. It is affordable investing on a solution like cloud BI comparing the long-term cost. The advantage of a prompt implementation may deserve the hazard of long-term cost and may contribute to additional profits, like allowing you to scale your BI to more users throughout the organization faster.

Time Savings: It is a time consuming process with an in-house BI deployment. You need to spend more time on setting up, maintaining and debugging server. By adopting a cloud BI such burden can be avoided and that time could be better spent elsewhere, which means faster time-to-value and quicker ROI.

Data Security: As told earlier, data security concerns persist or so much has been invested in your existing data warehouse infrastructure that switching now would cause problems, then a web services model as described above may be the way to go. You maintain the risk of data security and get the reward of reduced costs by utilizing SaaS BI.

BI is the right choice at this point to move into the cloud and into the future. This new solution of BI in the cloud that’s more affordable and faster to implement will eventually force us all into a more repeatable and scalable model, and it’ll be best for information consumers at every level and will allow BI to become more dominant making us all better decision-makers.

For more information on Cloud BI contact Shaughn Knight

BI in the Cloud

3 Apr

Business intelligence (BI) industry is experiencing a profound effect since the inception of Cloud computing. The exponential growth in the use of amorphous data by companies, including big data leads many decision-makers to grapple with the most efficient ways to analyze real-time data quickly and effectively. These intensifying data demands are just one of the reasons that predict the developing market interest in cloud-based analytics. While Gartner forecasts the global business intelligence (BI) market to grow 9.7% this year to $10.8 billion, business analytics software-as-a-service (SaaS) is anticipated to spring up three times faster than the total business analytics software market.

BI facilitates companies to analyze data and turn it into valuable business information. As more data and applications migrate into the cloud, numerous new data sources are being created. Cloud-based BI and analytics offer companies and business users multiple benefits. Businesses of all sizes can leverage vast computing and storage resources in the cloud without having to invest in expanding their existing IT footprints or IT support staffs. BI providers are adapting their tools to this new reality, and successful companies must now evaluate and act upon this opportunity. In addition, cloud-based BI and analytics provide business leaders opportunities to quickly gather and act on granular insights from a mix of structured and unstructured data.

Cloud-based BI and analytics tools also relieve business users from trusting on their employees to generate reports or create dashboards for them, thus facilitating decision-makers to act quickly on rapidly changing market conditions. Thus enabling organizational leaders analyze the sales pipeline, monitor the results of marketing campaigns, or trends involving individual line-item expenses and releasing other departments/employees to focus on other activities.

The availability of cloud-based BI and analytics helps to have a greater collaboration and teamwork between decision-makers, including those who might be geographically separated. For instance, users of a particular BI tool can embed dashboards within its dedicated platform via a stream so that followers of that stream can then obtain and share real-time information. Hence provides business users to easily share ideas and insights with one another

These capabilities provide line-of-business users the ability to promptly and easily make informed business decisions across all levels of the organization.
Benefits of cloud BI

  • Investment: Without any upfront cost, hardware and software systems can be managed remotely by the vendors or the services providers
  • Opex Vs Capex: The Money that has been invested by the business people are expense incurred to create future benefit i.e. acquisition of assets that will have a useful life beyond the tax year
  • Elasticity in terms of volume, usage, and price.
  • Less reliance on internal IT resources.
  • Scalability: Even the smallest businesses can have the ability to tailor a BI system to fit their needs and improve their businesses.
  • Cost: Instead of buying complete software or full license, a Cloud-based system provide companies a subscription-based model that ensure companies paying only for their usage.

It is believed that 50% to 80% of all BI applications fall or can fall under the above criteria and therefore SaaS cloud BI will be a huge market. So if you are planning for a Cloud BI, then you have taken an apt decision at your level.
To know more on ZSL’s cloud BI services and solutions, Contact Shaughn Knight.