In my previous posts on the subject of cloud computing and business intelligence, I’ve discussed building a dimensional model to make reporting easy and I’ve identified the type of data extraction necessary to populate the reporting database. I’ve also decided that automating the extraction and load jobs is the way to go. What’s left is the choice of vendors who can help make this happen as smoothly as possible.
One solution is to go with a single vendor model for your business intelligence needs. If your transactional system is in the cloud, you would have to depend on the same vendor to provide you with the reporting database and the ETL jobs that fit your requirements. With BI in the cloud, the provider of the system has to create a dimensional model that meets most of their subscribers’ needs. However, this data model may not meet all the reporting requirements and the data is still not in-house for easy analysis. To fix this problem, the cloud vendor might have partners that can help make a custom BI system in the cloud more practical. For instance, Informatica offers an ETL solution to the Salesforce.com CRM to solve this very problem. Leaving BI in the cloud will also mean you’ll have to use the reporting tool picked for you by the cloud vendor. Additionally, you’ll have to assume most, if not all, of your reporting needs will be met with the data in the cloud and that you won’t ever need to enrich that information with locally gathered (i.e. non-cloud) data.
Since that kind of data uniformity is rare, a more practical choice would be to treat the cloud as just another data source. This will free you from a single vendor software stack and allow you to pick the best vendors for the job. In this model, the vendors you choose for the tasks should be able to: