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BLOG: Business analytics on the cloud – the game changer

Lau Shih Hor | May 30, 2011
Does BA on the cloud really help?

There has been a lot of talk and much ado about the cloud especially in recent years. A decade ago, few knew what cloud computing really was about or recognised its benefits. Thanks to the likes of Google, Amazon Web Services or even Salesforce.com, cloud computing has become a familiar term in the IT world and even among business users. Now, cloud computing seems to be the rage with every vendor out there clamouring to move their IT solutions to the cloud or developing their own cloud-based solutions.

What spurred this trend? As with the laws of demand and supply, this could only be the result of the growing interest in the cloud in the market due to the apparent benefits it offers. For large companies, the cloud presents a straightforward and cost-effective avenue to obtain computing resources, especially when certain projects are exploratory in nature. Although largescale migration to the cloud for large companies may not be immediate, (or for some may not even be feasible due to compliance to external governing bodies like in the public sector or banking industry) with the cloud, there is now a viable alternative. For the smaller companies, the value propositions of the cloud are obvious due to the flexibility it offers via the pay-per-use model and the elasticity to scale on demand.

Not another cloud offering

Business analytics (or some term as business intelligence) cloud solution vendors have recently joined the cloud 'crowd'. Some established BI players are beginning to introduce business analytics (BA) cloud solutions but are slow in doing so due to the potential cannibalisation of their existing licensing strategy. There are also those who are looking to build their BA cloud solutions through acquisitions of other cloud solution companies but found that the underlying architecture disparity present a huge hindrance towards making the product cloud-enabled. Finally, there are those start-up BA cloud solution vendors who are building the components from scratch, which may lack depth in their offerings.

Size does not matter

Does BA on the cloud really help and if yes, who? Traditional BA solution requires prohibitively high upfront investment which rules out most if not all small and medium companies. This explains the almost exclusive use of BA by the largest companies only.

Enter the cloud, the game changer due to its ability to offer the perfect storm of low-cost, scalability, and flexibility. As BA falls under the exploratory type of projects in most organisations, large companies, or more accurately the business units in large companies, are leveraging the cloud to explore the benefits of BA and to deliver departmental BA projects more quickly and inexpensively. The time and costs of buying and configuring server hardware, operating software and databases is done away with. The only catch is the compliance control of data going to the cloud. Such situations may require a private cloud or community cloud approved by the governing body.

 

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