How Does Cloud Computing Impacts Business Intelligence?

Defining Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a common term that is used for defining anything that involves the delivery of hosting services over the internet. A cloud service can be differentiated from traditional web hosting based on three characteristics. These distinguishing characteristics involve- the cloud is sold on demand, it is elastic, and lastly, the cloud services are fully managed by the provider. Innovations in the field of virtualization and distributed computing along with improved access to high-speed internet, has accelerated the interest of users in cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Service Categories

The cloud services are typically based on the end-user or business requirements. Following are the primary cloud services-

1. Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is often referred to as a software delivery method for providing access to software and its associated functions remotely as a web-based service. Rather than paying for an upfront fee for purchasing the licensed software, SaaS customers pay a recurring fee amount for subscribing to their services. Additionally, they can access the SaaS from any Internet-connected device at any point in time.

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In the case of PaaS, the platform is outsourced instead of a company or data centre purchasing and managing its own hardware and software layers. Most of the PaaSes have been designed for developers, and they aim to simplify the process of creating and deploying the software. A web-developer could use PaaS for operating system software, Web server software, etc.

3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The infrastructure-related to computers could include servers, storage, and networking that is delivered as service. IaaS has been popular with enterprises that appreciate the convenience of having a cloud vendor for managing their IT infrastructure. They can even see cost-savings as a result of paying only for the computing resources that are used.

Security in Cloud Computing

Security has remained a primary concern for businesses that contemplate cloud adoption, especially the adoption of the public cloud. The public cloud providers share the underlying hardware infrastructure between a large number of customers, as the public cloud is a multi-tenant environment. This environment asks for copious isolation between the logically-computed resources. Also, access to public cloud storage and compute resources are authenticated only by the account login credentials. Most organizations are bound by the complex obligations, and the governance standards are hesitant in placing data or workloads in the public cloud due to the fear of outrages, loss or theft. With time, this fear has receded as logical isolation has proven to be reliable, and the addition of data encryption along with several identity and access management tools has helped in improving the security of data present within the public cloud.

Use Case of Hybrid Cloud and Business Intelligence

Case Discussed: Reducing Data in the Cloud

Today, many companies are working with big data; there are disparate types of data that might be high in volume and velocity. In the public cloud, there can be some examples, including the geospatial data or clickstream data, or even social media data. Companies that deal with big data have decided to processes their external sources in the public cloud and then bring the reduced or analyzed data set-on premises to make it a part of a larger analysis. This proves to be a good use of the hybrid cloud model and the companies carry out the computing work in the public cloud when it doesn’t need the source files for anything else. Cloud enables scalability and flexibility of operating on these data sets.

What is Cloud Business Intelligence?

The Cloud Business Intelligence Applications are hosted over a virtual network such as the internet. These are used for providing organizations access to BI-related data such as dashboards, KPIs and other business analytics. The enterprises these days have increasingly turned to cloud-based tools such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software, online file collaboration & storage, as well as the help-desk software. These trends are inclusive of business intelligence tools that embrace the agility and accessibility of the cloud.

Cloud computing and business intelligence give a perfect match that industry verticals need. Business intelligence involves the delivery of the right information to the right set of people at the right time, and cloud computing serves as a lightweight catalyst for accessing the Business Intelligence Applications. The Cloud Business Intelligence Applications can be accessed on multiple devices as well as web browsers.

Benefits of Cloud Business Intelligence

Cloud Business Intelligence solutions are gradually gaining popularity amongst the businesses, as most of the businesses have realized the benefits of data analytics. Businesses are in need of quality insights that are driven by accurate data. The SaaS providers serve the primary interfacing to the business user community, and the concept of Cloud Business Intelligence refers to the delivery of BI capabilities as a service.

Following are key benefits that Cloud Computing for Business Intelligence has-

i. Cost Efficiency

In the case of cloud, the companies don’t need a budget for large and an up-front purchase regarding the software packages. The companies treat BI infrastructure as a service and pay only for the computing resources that are needed, and costly asset acquisition is avoided, thus, maintaining a reduced entry threshold barrier.

ii. Flexibility and Scalability

The Cloud Business Intelligence solutions have been allowing greater flexibility that can be altered quickly, giving the technical users to access newer data sources by carrying out experimentation with the analytics model.

Also, the Cloud resources can automatically and rapidly carry out the scaling in and out by supporting a large number of simultaneous users. Thus, customers can easily increase software usage without any delay in deploying the installation of extra hardware and software.

iii. Reliability

Reliability can be improved through the usage of multiple redundant sites, providing reliability and secure the data storage locations. These resources can be spread across several users, making the Cloud Computing an apt option for disaster recovery and business continuity.

iv. Enhanced Data Sharing

Cloud computing applications tend to allow data access to be shared remotely and enable an easy cross-location sharing of data capabilities. These are usually deployed by the internet, and it remains outside the company’s firewall.

v. No Expenditure of Capital

A low TCO or total cost of ownership is one of the key benefits of the Cloud model. With the help of the cloud, companies only pay for a service that is actually used. Under this policy, Cloud Computing allows the companies to have better control over the CAPEX and the OPEX that is associated with the non-core activities.

Challenges in Hosting Business Intelligence on Cloud

Some of the key challenges in hosting Business Intelligence on Cloud includes-

i. Compliance of the Business Intelligence applications with the architectural standards of web services and these standards are defined by either- SaaS or PaaS providers.

ii. Deploying massive parallel data-warehousing systems with an evenly distributed query load and even patterns of response times from all the database servers. The IaaS providers need to effectively use the virtualized server array management and expansion for meeting the on-demand resources.

iii. The network architecture needs to be designed in such a way that the query load is evenly distributed amongst the servers present in the array. This ensures query processing times by the servers in an array. In case the server array has employed a storage area networking for storing the XML data files and the OLAP cubes, the data fetching from various storage devices need to be again evenly distributed via an appropriate network connection.

Growth of Global Business Intelligence Market in 2019

The Global Business Intelligence Market is forecasted to grow with a CAGR of ~11% in the forecasted period from 2016 to 2022. In the year 2016, the Business Intelligence market was valued at $16.3 billion, and by the end of the forecasted period (by 2022), the value of this market is predicted to reach a value of $34.3 billion.

The key growth of drivers of the Business Intelligence markets includes- the adoption of data analytics by organizations all over the world, the emergence of IoT-enabled technologies and increased usage of data analytics. The increase in quantity and variety of large volumes of data produced by organizations has led to the increased need for business intelligence tasks.

Growth of Global BI Market (2016-2022)

Cloud computing can prove to very useful for business intelligence as it is an on-demand, self-service, having rapid elasticity and is largely scalable. Cloud can boost significant computing power for business intelligence and analytics. There are challenges in the form of both- organizations as well as technology perspectives. Cloud business intelligence, is, however, starting to get mature as the businesses have realized the benefits and decided if business intelligence suits their business in the right way.

Rishabh Sinha

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