Apps and data have been heading overwhelmingly into the cloud for the last few years, and the business world is increasingly (if reluctantly) following suit. From cloud-hosted data warehouses and software-as-a-service business intelligence (SaaS) to cloud-based dashboards and data analytics, organisations of all sizes and ilks can easily find a cloud-based alternative to their existing BI technologies. But there are still some widespread misconceptions about cloud-based solutions, even among CTOs. We’ve picked three of the most common to debunk:
Self-service BI is usually a misleading term. Just because a tool is hosted on the cloud, it still requires regular management, including consistently adding and adjusting data. If you’ve adopted a Cloud BI solution that uses conventional BI architecture, it’s likely to require many service hours and have very little flexibility for change – not exactly what’s implied by many Cloud BI vendors when they describe a product as self-service.
Remember, the Cloud just refers to a location. There’s a massive difference between a fully-managed BI service in the Cloud and simply shifting where your data is stored by installing your BI software on a ‘virtual’ computer. All considerations worth taking on board when you’re making a strategic decision about how to tackle your BI requirements.
Marc Clark, head of cloud strategy at Teradata, recently discussed some pervasive falsehoods exposed in a 2017 survey of 900 international business leaders on the future of cloud strategy. 40 percent of respondents listed security as a top concern, whether they were already using cloud-based solutions or not, with 25 percent of them worried about increased security breaches as a direct result of moving data to the Cloud.
However, Clark described Cloud security as “...more robust and more reliable than on-site security”, using recent, large scale breaches at US stores Target and Home Depot – which both occurred on premise – as examples. This doesn’t mean that it is risk-free of course, just that there are still some outdated notions floating around that a CTO looking for an efficient Cloud-based solution should be questioning.
If you really want to be realistic about the potential pitfalls of a Cloud-based BI solution, Clark suggests you look no further than latency issues, which are still widespread yet barely discussed when compared to security concerns.
These can be caused by a range of factors, including but not limited to: varying numbers of router or ground-to-satellite communication hops which depend on the geographical locations of servers; delays due to the unpredictable workloads that are part and parcel of Cloud-based systems and shared WANs that can lead to multiple stoppages.