Here is a sum up of what I found on a Linked In BI forum as regards this question: Anyone doing BI in the cloud?
Just before we go further, here is a small remind of what the cloud is compared to BI and how they work together:
- Cloud computing enables several services, Infrastructure as a Service, Applications as a service, Disaster Recovery as a service and many more. BI is an application that can be run in the cloud as a service.
What about BI in the cloud? What can we expect from it? Everybody agrees on this formula:
SaaS BI application + cloud infrastructure = true BI for the masses
-The Cloud will allow SMB to take advantage of the industry's most advanced and complete BI platform without additional investments in their IT infrastructure. It will make BI flexible and extremely affordable. Actually, Cloud is rapidly becoming mainstream and the odds are within 1 or 2 years, we’ll see a majority of SMB and a significant number of large businesses that own their data centers going to transition to Cloud (experts expect 40 to 50% for SMB!)
=> Benefit: no more investment, welcome to simplicity of variable costs!
-Now organizations of any size can share timely and accurate information, which is fundamental to their ability to make critical business decisions and improve performance. The cloud allows collaborative features, which will become standard part of dashboard environment in the near future (Quote from Wayne Eckerson). It provides self-service reporting, analytics, and dashboards to both internal business users and external partners
=> Benefit:online sharing becomes true, no more emails exchange, everything at one place, anywhere, anytime. BI turns ubique!
-the way you can add new users offers a true scalability
=> Benefit: don't need to budget new users or new servers. Companies’ information needs are satisfied immediately.
Let’s also highlight that some companies have turned BI into a profit center by charging their customers for access to a cloud-based hosted offering. Companies use the SaaS muti-tenant version offered by their SaaS BI vendor and sell their own hosted BI offerings for a massive adoption.
About general constraints, people still fear about:
-data size transfer, security, network bandwidth and fees. It makes the Cloud less attractive when you are moving large volumes of data, unless that data already exists in the Cloud. And some companies can have their data outside the firewall or have trouble in an audit when they can pinpoint where the data is.
=> But cloud technology improvements go so fast: performance, data size and security are more like concerns and worries are past. Your data is as secure as you want it to be whether in a Cloud or Outside (AWS is now SaS70 compliant). In addition, AWS like cloud is also very useful when you have research data that you need to process and analyze and can't do it in your current environment (use cloud services such as Elastic Map Reduce (EMR), Relational Data Service(RDS), even Hadoop).
There is still some learning curve needed but the future is headed this way and the price remains so attractive. What else?