Business Intelligence applications are often based on a denormalized version of transactional data. This is done mainly to:
- keep analytical processing from slowing down the transaction systems
- create “reporting friendly” databases that lend themselves to analysis
Traditionally, both Transactional and Analytical databases reside on hardware inside the company’s firewall and when necessary, a BI report and/or chart can drill down from one system to another transparently.
With Cloud Computing, this model gets more complicated. The current trend of moving to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is centered on transaction processing. For example, Salesforce.com is a transactional system that allows users to access a Customer Relationship Management system in a cloud. In the old days, because of the total cost of ownership, smaller organizations could ill afford to acquire these systems, and instead, resorted to maintaining their data in home grown and/or Excel-based databases. The SaaS model allows an organization of any size to access and benefit from very sophisticated systems through subscribing to them on a named user basis. Therefore, whether an organization has 10 or 1,000 sales reps, it can maintain a robust set of metrics at a very reasonable cost.