Business Intelligence in Cloud (Part 1)

Cloud Computing is dramatically changing the way businesses view their IT functions. For Business Intelligence (BI) software providers, this new concept of product delivery poses many interesting challenges and opportunities, as vendors consider their approach to providing their BI solution in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

But to understand those challenges and opportunities, we need to first understand Cloud Computing.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing, as defined in Cloud Computing for Dummies (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s a useful definition) is: “A networking solution in which everything – from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration – is delivered as a service wherever and whenever you need it.”

The ‘cloud’ refers to the hardware, storage, networks, software or interfaces that are packaged together to offer a desirable facet of computing as a service. These services are offered as a pay-per-use or subscription based system via the internet, either packaged together as complete software platforms, or delivered as separate components to suit individual user needs.

Via cloud computing, businesses can access SaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), allowing infrastructure, applications and entire software packages to be delivered to them over the internet or via private networks.

Defining types of Cloud Computing

As mentioned above, organizations are able to assess different computing services via the cloud – SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.

1.  SaaS: In this instance, the service provider hosts the software, and makes the hosted software application available to users via the net. This removes the need for businesses utlilizing this software to establish and manage the associated infrastructure and hardware. The service provider takes care of those aspects on behalf of the client – Just connect and go.
2.  PaaS: PaaS offers customers the ability to ‘rent’ virtualized servers and other platform services, enabling them to run or develop new applications on the hosted platform.
3.  IaaS: With IaaS, instead of buying and developing their own hardware, storage facilities, networking components and servers; an organization uses a service providers support equipment. This transfers the responsibility of housing and maintaining that infrastructure to the service provider.

Deployment models: Public, Private, Community and Hybrid clouds

Each method of deployment in the cloud –Public, Private, Community and Hybrid – offers particular benefits, as well as data governance and security concerns, which predominantly relate to allowing data assets outside company firewalls.

1.  Public clouds: Public clouds are hosted virtualized environments (data centers) located outside company firewalls. In this model, organizations select specific resources (on demand) from the cloud service provider, which they receive via the public internet.

2.  Private clouds: Private clouds are virtualized environments located within company firewalls. Although, in multi-tenancy environments, this can mean that a cloud service provider has created a dedicated and partitioned space within their data center for an individual company.

3.  Community clouds:
Community clouds represent an attempt to combine the benefits of Private and Public clouds. A group of organizations with similar data needs my launch into a joint Cloud Computing venture. This concept offers some of the benefits of Private clouding – increased privacy and security – whilst reducing the costs of a private single tenant cloud environment.

4.  Hybrid clouds: Hybrid clouds combine benefits inherent in Public and Private clouding. As defined by PCMag Encyclopedia, the term Hybrid cloud refers to “the use of both private and public clouds to provide an organization’s computing needs.”

Characteristics of Cloud Computing

There are three notable characteristics of Cloud Computing (benefits will be discussed in our next blog post):

  • Customers do not own the infrastructure, platform or software. Clients treat it as a service, paying only for the resources used.
  • Customers avoid the significant capital expenditure of setting-up traditional IT environments.
  • Cloud service provides charge customers based on pay-per-use system or on a subscription basis.

Issues to consider when contemplating Cloud Computing

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

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Manageability
  • Cloud standards
  • Governance and compliance
  • Availability and performance
  • Green computing

Where does Yellowfin fit in: Yellowfin as a SaaS deployment

Yellowfin is the only BI product that has been designed from the ground up to support SaaS deployments – either as a standalone application or embedded into a SaaS solution. You can deploy Yellowfin in traditional hosted environments, or in the Cloud, supporting either multi database or multi-tenancy environments. Not only is the software designed for SaaS, but, our subscription based pricing model is too.

The BI industry must adapt to the growing trend that is Cloud Computing, to ensure they are well placed to offer customers their full product functionality via an avenue that suits their changing business needs, and supports agile business operation.

Stay tuned for more on Cloud Computing and BI as a SaaS deployment.

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