Can the Cloud provide the processor intensive computing power and storage facilities required by a major corporation looking to replace their manpower, energy and space intensive current BI solution? The Cloud provides an unlimited pool of computing power, memory and storage which are delivered in affordable discreet modules to the end user. This business model which delivers unlimited scalability with very little overhead is undoubtedly appealing to the corporate finance departments of many major corporations and I believe from my experience and with careful planning can be utilised by any company.
The following considerations must however be factored into the decision to adopt BI in the cloud as an enterprise for your company:
- Plan for the worst
- Perform due diligence for security, backup and disaster recovery
- Do not overlook BI Cloud pricing and contract matters
- Evaluate the long term cost of ownership
- Investigate license requirements
- Consider your data transfer requirements
Many of the major vendors in the BI community are now actively seeking a presence in the Cloud BI arena, SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, Microsoft Azure and IBM Blue Insight whether they succeed or fail in their enterprises will inevitably drive the use of the Cloud for mainstream BI solutions. I believe however that BI in the Cloud will primarily be utilised by the major corporations as a development tool to reduce overhead costs. It represents a way for a BI application to be developed, installed and adapted to need with reduced costs and easier deployment without the need for capital investment in hardware and infrastructure space.
- Speed of Deployment
- Ease of Access especially for Power users and Analysts
- Data transfer rates – especially for data sets of a terabyte or more.
- SaaS offerings especially need to be specially tailored for the data they are linking into.
- The possibility that the vendor your company chooses in this start-up stage may not survive to support your long term needs.
The fact that the Cloud can support BI is not at question here the requirement is that it supports major corporation’s BI needs. I believe that the ability to provide a pay as you compute infrastructure will provide new data warehouse storage options and provide the possibility of unlimited scalability within your corporate environment. However these major plus points must be tempered with a realisation that BI in the cloud is still in its infancy. Major consideration must be given to security, data transfer rates and the chosen vendors risk within the market place. If your company can perform due diligence to satisfy themselves that these possible stumbling blocks can be offset then there is the ability for the cloud to satisfy the most demanding of companies. I believe that the main users of cloud BI as a main source of BI for their companies will be SMEs and that larger corporations will utilise the cloud as a sandbox for pre-deployment development and testing.