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Cloud BI: Exploring Drivers and Benefits

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Businesses are moving to the cloud to reap the host of benefits it provides, which are aptly listed in this article by Guardian, Why are so many businesses switching to cloud computing? Popular applications for transition to the cloud include email, collaboration, CRM, LoB, and increasingly BI. Cloud BI offers organizations significant benefits going well beyond infrastructure management gains.

Having seen and helped organizations adopt Cloud BI, we want to share some important reasoning and factors to consider for your Cloud BI strategy:

  1. Mobility: This is by far the most prominent factor driving the move to Cloud BI. Data-driven organizations believe access to information should be available to everyone (especially field teams) from anywhere on any device, which is why they have moved to Cloud BI. They are not just providing services, like Office 365 for email and documents, but giving people access to reports, dashboards, and other powerful capabilities while they are on the move. Cloud BI is essential to a successful mobile strategy.
  2. The Reality of Cloud BI is Hybrid BI: Cloud BI does not require deploying all components of BI in the cloud. The reality of Cloud BI is a hybrid BI environment because some components of BI must remain on-premise (e.g. ETL, ODS and DW), while the ones that are essential for external access (e.g. Analysis Services and SharePoint) should be deployed in the cloud. This hybrid environment is easily created with Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual networks using Active Directory federation. Look for implementation guidance in our upcoming blog post on creating a hybrid BI environment with Windows Azure.
  3. Agility: BI requires significant computing power, scalability and high availability. We often see organizations over spend on hardware in order to handle anticipated growth and to avoid going through upgrades. (Practically everyone knows the negative consequences when key executives cannot get fast access to their reports!) By design, cloud computing offers key advantages– elasticity to scale up and down, easier upgrades, agility to perform software refreshes– by eliminating time consuming hardware procurement, setup and maintenance activities.
  4. Cost: According to an infographic designed by Wikibon, cloud users save an average of 21% annually by moving apps to the cloud. With businesses able to source IT services on-demand, they can avert over spending, smoothing the way to reduced capital expenditures. Cloud vendors handling infrastructure maintenance can offer major efficiencies and economies, including with setup, upgrades, and downtime. We’ve seen some customers save as much as 50% on infrastructure maintenance by going to the cloud.

As you continue to explore your next steps with Cloud BI, check back for part 2 of this post which will focus on architecture and enabling hybrid BI and consider participating in our Cloud BI Quick Start Program.

 
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