In Part I, I talked about a couple of reasons why cloud BI hasn't gone mainstream yet – the inherent complexity of BI systems and the amount of data produced daily. Then I presented a secure way for data to remain in place but your BI to move into the cloud. (web services-based SOA broadcast services, essentially querying data that exists behind your corporate firewall from the cloud). Today let's weigh the risks vs. rewards of moving your BI to the cloud.
Choosing a Cloud BI Vendor
Do you stick with your familiar BI software as it adapts to a SaaS model or go with a newcomer offering true SaaS? 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.
Certainly evaluate the long-term cost of ownership – cloud BI may be more affordable at the outset and allow you to avoid the capital expenditure approval process, but will it cost more in the end? The reward of a quick implementation and "easy out" may be worth the risk of higher long-term cost and may lead to additional benefits, like allowing you to scale your BI to more users throughout the organization faster.
Sticking with an in-house BI deployment results in your IT team spending time to set up, tweak, maintain, and debug servers – time that could be better spent elsewhere. Deploying your BI in the cloud (in a web services model or not) removes the burden of server management, which can become especially time-consuming as BI is rolled out to more and more users, and allows your IT team to redirect their efforts. In addition, cloud deployments get up and running faster than traditional in-house deployments, which means faster "time to value" and quicker ROI.
If a cloud BI deployment looks attractive to your organization but 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 ready at this point to jump into the cloud and into the future. This new availability of BI in the cloud will eventually force us all into a more repeatable and scalable model, making it the next "big thing" – BI that's more affordable and faster to implement. And it'll be best for information consumers at every level and will allow BI to become more prevalent – in theory, making us all better decision-makers.
arcplan is "cloud-ready," which means that it's able to be deployed in the cloud as long as our customers are comfortable with that. In fact, many of our partners offer cloud solutions built on arcplan technology. We know that many companies are cautious about shifting their BI into the cloud, so if you decide that's a priority for you, we'll be on hand with help and advice on how to make the transition.