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DevOpsJournal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Stackify Blog, Pat Romanski, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence

Opinion

Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence

The Road Ahead

In the wake of the economic slowdown, organizations are increasingly looking for ways to do more with the same resources; articulate differently - to make every penny, input and contribution count. In such situations, technologies like Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence (BI) are becoming increasingly important in gaining and maintaining a competitive edge. These technologies when combined enable a variety of new analytic data management projects and business possibilities.

Cloud computing will change the economics of BI by making available the hardware, networking, security and software needed to create data marts and data warehouses on demand with a pay-as-you-go approach to usage and licensing.

More and more businesses are turning to analytic applications to provide critical business insights. Whether focused on achieving higher ROI, better understanding of the competitive landscape, improving product and service quality, Business Intelligence is one of the few technologies that can equip organizations to more effectively prepare for tomorrow today. It's no wonder the BI platform is expected to grow by 7.9% through 2012 (according to Gartner).

Cloud computing is characterized by ability to consume resources as required in an elastic manner and scaling the consumption arbitrarily as required. The advent of infrastructure as a service implies that computational power is available on demand and on a pay-as-you-go basis with similar characteristics applying to storage of data as well. This enables a layer of services sitting on top of this infrastructure to decouple the delivery aspect of the services from the core business oriented aspects involved in these services. Related to this, is the fact that storage of the underlying data is also decoupled and segregated from the services.

Business Intelligence involves intelligent reporting on top of existing data which helps in prompt and actionable decision making. These decision making might involve "geography based investment decision for a multinational company" or even a "buy decision for a product by the consumer". BI has evolved over time but the key components still continue to hold true. It is still necessary to be able to aggregate the factual data from various data sources and doing involved transformations. This data then either needs to be stored in a data mart or warehouse to enable reporting and analysis on top or it could then be further aggregated into metrics which are then reported. Nevertheless the ability to perform BI involves key aspects related to data management and computationally expensive analytics or reporting.

Cloud computing provides key enablers for BI in these specific areas:

  • Computational resources can be consumed for heavy calculations that could be involved in predictive analytics as a example
  • Extremely heavy data loads could be stored for cheaper prices in storage resources in the cloud
  • Reporting and visualization are naturally fit for offering in a software as a service (SaaS) model, this would enable newer consumption behavior for these specific BI components, also given that web is the most common delivery method for reports it makes it seamless to add new users as well allow user
  • As more and more applications and data sets move to the cloud, BI services need to adapt to look at Cloud as the data source

More Stories By Georgia Kennedy

Georgia Kennedy has been working with enterprises, ecommerce companies and ISVs for the past 7 years helping them make better business decisions through the use of machine learning, data mining and social media techniques in various domains.

Her technology expertise includes working in analytics, data mining, web2.0, social media, statistical modeling techniques across different industry verticals like sales/marketing, telecom, retail, healthcare, media and entertainment.