BI in the cloud: pipe dream or inevitability?

While cloud computing is being viewed as the next big step in computing, not everyone thinks it will be perfect for everything. For example, here’s one view on why Business Intelligence might not work: http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/saas/business-intelligence/1359/business-intelligence-%E2%80%98lags-behind%E2%80%99-cloud.

Of course, a venture capitalist is going to have a slightly different view to a user. Over the last few years we have seen a number of ERP functions move to the cloud and it is likely that Business Intelligence will follow. When looking at a cloud-based implementation, there are a number of potential benefits. User organisations can implement the exact level of BI that they need, whether putting in a limited implementation using BI as a Service or disseminating BI across a widespread workforce using a private cloud. At the same time the computing horsepower needed to actually implement BI in the age of Big Data is much easier to justify if it is centralised, either as part of a large-scale private cloud project or with a service provider.

The idea of Big Data could start to push many organisations towards BI in the cloud: especially as the costs and complexity involved in allowing such data to be stored, accessed and investigated anywhere it’s needed don’t lend themselves to an on-premise solution. Given that the arrival of Big Data seems inevitable, it may well be that BI over the cloud is less a matter or “if” and more a matter of “when”.

As with any ERP function cloud-based BI may not be for everyone, while others may prefer to take a mixed approach: keeping some BI in-house and saving the cloud for the biggest of Big Data. The topics of BI and the cloud will again be in key focus at this year’s annual User Group Conference. If you are looking for advice and wanting to network with other SAP users make sure to register for this year’s event at http://www.sapusers.org/conference2011/.

 

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