BI as a SaaS deployment: Issues to consider (Part 3)

Yesterday, in part two of our four part blog series on Cloud ComputingThe benefits of Business Intelligence in The Cloud (Part 2) – we outlined the benefits of utilizing a Business Intelligence (BI) tool as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployment in The Cloud.

The benefits of BI as a SaaS application are potentially enormous, especially for small to midsized businesses, which can glean the benefits of BI software without the in-house demands and costs associated with on-site deployment. SaaS and Cloud Computing allow organizations to concentrate on their product offerings instead of their IT department.

Issues to consider when contemplating BI in The Cloud

But, there are also many broad issues to consider when embarking upon a Cloud Computing project. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Privacy/security: Storing data and information generated from data analysis outside company firewalls poses privacy and security issues, as the service provider has the ability to access, with or without consent, client data assets. However, advocates of Cloud Computing argue that the reputation and success of service providers relies on their ability to provide steadfast data security for their clients, and therefore Clouding represents a secure data storage and analysis option. When selecting a BI SaaS application, ensure that the same security safeguards offered as part of an on-premise deployment are applicable in The Cloud, including user authentication, data partitioning and encryption.
  • Portability (Cloud standards): Ensure that you are able to take tools and applications from one Cloud environment and use them in another without the need for rework.
  • Compliance: Companies considering Clouding need to ensure that they comply with regulatory data statutes and authorities: (HIPAA, FSMA and SOX) in the US, and the Data Protection Directive in the EU. To guarantee compliance, Community or Hybrid Cloud deployments may need to be used instead of Public Clouds, increasing overall project expenditure.
  • Performance: Although the decreased financial and infrastructure requirements of Cloud Computing are significant, the data latency associated with Cloud Computing continues to be a barrier to real-time reporting achievable with on-premise BI applications.
  • Understanding business goals: Set goals before you embark upon a BI Cloud project. This will allow you to properly assess the success of your Cloud implementation. Is the goal to reduce IT costs? Increase speed of implementation? Both?

Selecting a BI tool and vendor

Because there are many issues to consider when implementing BI as a SaaS solution, it makes sense to approach a BI vendor who can deliver you the benefits (see our blog – The benefits of Business Intelligence in The Cloud (Part 2) – for an outline of the key benefits of SaaS deployment) and minimize the potential issues and associated risks.

And now, in the paraphrased words of Top Gear, it’s time for our tame business proposition. Some say, it’s a dazzling spectacle not to be missed; others claim it’s a communications marvel from a galaxy far, far away; and legend has it, that if you stare it in the face, you’ll be eternally mesmerized. All we know is – it’s The Plug!

Why use Yellowfin as a SaaS application?

Yellowfin is Cloud ready. With little effort you can deploy Yellowfin in The Cloud and start building your analytical applications straight away.

  • Scalability: Yellowfin, with its 100 percent browser-based interface, offers enhanced scalability with robust clustering administration, allowing for far larger and complex deployments.
  • Full functionality: As a SaaS application, Yellowfin provides a full-range of reporting and analytics capabilities to end-users, including personalized dashboards, report scheduling and alerts, OLAP slice and dice, drill-down and drill-through capacity.
  • Yellowfin supports virtualized environments
  • Yellowfin’s multi-tenancy support: Yellowfin supports the complexities of multi-tenancy environments, including the ability to partition data access based on user ID. With Yellowfin, it’s possible to share common content across users, as well as allow users to create their own unique reports.
  • Yellowfin security: Yellowfin’s robust security model is ideal for Cloud deployments. You can use role-based security to limit access to application functionality, content security to determine access to reports, and dashboards and data security to limit access to sensitive data at row level.

Proof of concept: Two case studies

1.  NGA.NET
NGA.NET, an Australian-based creator of world-class Human Resources Software, helps large organizations to connect, recruit and develop their personnel. As a SaaS provider, NGA.NET has embedded Yellowfin’s BI solution in their overall SaaS package, to offer their customers world-class reporting and analytics capabilities.

NGA.NET claim that: “The biggest challenge faced by HR teams today is to understand their workforce requirements, identify their key people and primary positions and ensure they recruit and retain quality talent.” Yellowfin allows NGA.NET to provide a comprehensive HR management system.

2.  Century Payments
US based Century Payments was founded as a payments processor in 2006. Century Payments have access to their exclusive instance of Yellowfin via Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud Web service. Century Payments sales team use Yellowfin’s reporting and analytic tool as a SaaS application to optimize their sales process. This year Century Payments was ranked number 11 on the 2010 Inc. 500 fastest-growing private American companies list.

One more time

On Monday, we’ll conclude our mini blog series on SaaS and Cloud Computing, and explain why now is the time to consider BI in The Cloud.

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