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Buyer's Guide: Business Intelligence in the Cloud: Page 2

By Drew Robb     Feedback
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“The cloud has changed the game for BI. The business/license model and architecture are very different,” said Van den Berg. “An incumbent is often not best suited for the cloud BI use case. If you have evaluated carefully and believe your current vendor is a fit, you should check if their cloud BI offering is with its on-premises software or if an easy upgrade path exists.”


Tibco is another of business intelligence upstart that is gaining quite a following. Tibco Silver Spotfire is the cloud/SaaS offering alternative to the Tibco Spotfire on-premise enterprise business intelligence solution. The idea is to put enterprise-class business analytics in the hands of individuals and small companies at an affordable price.

“With Spotfire, no data modeling is required to create interactive dashboards and publish them securely to the web for interactive viewing by browser or iPad,” said Brendan Gibson, Tibco's senior product manager, Spotfire. “Spotfire has tools for combining data sources and making sense of it all.”

He cautions users not to be fooled by what he termed “20th century reporting technologies” that have been re-jiggered for a SaaS delivery model. 

“Competitive businesses won’t beat their competition with a BI strategy that relies on reports and dashboards alone,” Gibson said. “The state-of-the-art is a strong mobility and web availability story, contextual collaboration capabilities as well as universal adaptability – i.e., the ability to support a broad base of business and technical users.”


As well as showcasing a few of the up-and-comers, no guide would be complete without including one of the major players. IBM is being cited as a leading business intelligence vendor that is furthest along in providing the latest generation of cloud technologies to facilitate cloud-based business intelligence and analytics. Its InfoSphere Big Insights on the Cloud, for instance, is a Hadoop-based tool.

“Apache Hadoop is one of the hottest topics in enterprise data management today,” said Leon Katsnelson, IBM director of Big Data Cloud Initiatives. “IBM InfoSphere BigInsights is built upon Hadoop's open source software framework, and is available both on-premise and in the cloud.”

IBM’s new Hadoop-based analytics software on the cloud is said to be deployable within 30 minutes. InfoSphere BigInsights merges the analysis of traditional structured data found in databases along with unstructured data. As it is cloud-based, those performing analyses don’t need Hadoop programming skills.

This product is available in basic and enterprise editions. It can be used for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. Clients already using this IBM technology include Hertz, Beacon Institute, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Danish energy company Vestas Wind Systems. The latter company, for example, used it to analyze petabytes of weather data to improve wind turbine placement.

Cloud BI is Coming

A long list of young gun vendors is giving the established business intelligence players a run for their money when it comes to cloud functionality. Whoever wins the race, one thing is clear: Cloud business intelligence is coming.

According to a recent Gartner survey, one third of IT managers are planning ­to use a SaaS-based business intelligence offering soon and 17 percent have already dumped (or are about to) their on-premise business intelligence in favor of cloud BI.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

This article was originally published on March 22, 2012
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