BI Applications in Cloud

Cloud Computing has been the star of 2010, garnering maximum spotlight and discussion. And why wouldn’t it be? After all, it has lived up to its hype till now. And now the thought leadership seems to have focused its attention on the next generation business intelligence (BI) applications and solutions harnessing the cloud platform.

Today, there is an increasing trend of companies showing interest in renting information rather than creating and owning it. Thus, we have service oriented architectures like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) driving BI strategies.

Cloud – Need of the Hour

Today, enterprises are in no position to sustain long development cycles and wait through the long gestation periods. The SaaS approach to BI allows these enterprises to have applications up and running in a blink of an eye. It helps them cut down on the development and deployment time and yield immediate results. These enterprises also grapple with lack of necessary skills when it comes to BI application users. A web browser based prototype of BI applications can address this issue indirectly.

The cloud platform offers enterprises the luxury of implementing a service only once and turning a blind eye towards continually updating or upgrading the desktop applications. That’s a great relief for IT managers who are faced with escalating costs of computing resources.

Cloud – Not Always Fun

Cloud, beyond all its benefits and advantages, poses a few glaring questions that demand attention. Integration is one such pain point of the cloud platform. The task of integrating a cloud based application or solution with the on-premise legacy systems has proved to be quite nerve-wracking. It is a complicated chore throwing up several curveballs for the integrators to field.

However, the integration hiccups in cloud applications is a mere reflection of haphazard adoption just to deal with an immediate need for a low cost analytics solution. What enterprises can do here is have a detailed integration strategy in place that outlines the flow of data from the legacy systems to on-demand cloud based solutions.

Cloud – A Haze

The other issue infesting the cloud platform is lack of visibility. Virtual cloud computing platforms are not transparent by nature. Hence, the BI applications hosted on such cloud platforms also lose their transparency and become non-visible.

This lack of transparency justifies the scare experienced by enterprises at the mere thought of relinquishing control over their BI applications set up in cloud’s service-based model. The applications end up residing in a gray area that makes it difficult to spot them and determine the flow of data.

Cloud – A Twilight Zone

Securing data on a network is one thing while securing data on a cloud is a whole another ball game. First of all, it is difficult to point out where exactly a BI application is housed in a cloud. This festers the difficulty of developing a security mechanism for a cloud based application.

The second issue with cloud is that a host of applications owned by other enterprises cohabit the same cloud platform. In such a multi-occupant scenario it becomes dicey and mindboggling to secure your data against the users of other solutions. This opaque and cohabitant nature of cloud thus makes it sort of a no man’s land where it’s hard to impose security measures.

Silver Lining to Cloud

Nevertheless, we need to keep in mind that cloud computing is still in its infancy phase. The concept of cloud is still maturing with time. The cloud computing providers are relentlessly persevering to address these limitations and assuage all concerns.