Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cloud Computing

Gartner Says “Cloud Computing will be as Influential As E-business.”

Forrester’s advice to CFOs: Embrace Cloud computing to cut costs.

Is cloud computing new evolution of Software-as-a-Service? How is it different from SaaS, PaaS, grid & Utility Computing? How will it impact BI ?

What is Cloud computing?

The wikipedia entry states "Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet.Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the "cloud" that supports them.

Cloud computing refers to computing resources being accessed which are typically owned and operated by a third-party provider on a consolidated basis in data center locations. Consumers of cloud computing services purchase computing capacity on-demand and are not generally concerned with the underlying technologies used to achieve the increase in server capability. There are, however, increasing options for developers that allow for platform services in the cloud where developers do care about the underlying technology.

Other Related Terms
Software-as-a-service (SaaS): A software solution hosted by a vendor as a fee-based BI service.

On demand: The ability for users to have instant access to a BI service and pay for it based on usage.

Cloud computing: The computing capacity for supporting SaaS BI processing. This may be provided by the SaaS vendor, or a third-party.

Hosted: An alternative approach to running a BI application in house.

Subscription based: A business model for a pay-as-you-go BI service.

Platform: A set of integrated BI software tools that may be offered as a SaaS or on-premises solution.

Grid computing: A large virtual computing platform that provides scalable cloud computing for on-demand SaaS BI processing. Grid computing is a technology approach to managing a cloud. In effect, all clouds are managed by a grid but not all grids manage a cloud.

So a grid is a huge amount of scalable computing power made up of multiple systems that may, or may not, be in the same data center. Grid computers are used to provide the resources for cloud computing, which in turn supports SaaS computing needs.

What does it mean to BI Customers?

There are several cloud-based data warehouse options available to customers in market today. From pure SaaS or DaaS (data-as-a-service) offerings which provide a full software stack, to PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) solutions on which you can build your own data warehouse, the cloud has very quickly shown to be fertile ground for managing increasingly large volumes of data.

Several SaaS or DaaS providers offer data analysis services. Using these services, you can employ powerful, full-stack data warehousing technologies with little effort and pay just for what you use. Companies such as 1010data, LogiXML and LucidEra offer various focused solutions for everything from a really big spreadsheet in the cloud to frameworks with built-in extract, transform and load and dashboards all the way through fully developed analysis tools customized for different verticals.

These solutions require no large outlay to get started. You can sign up using a Web browser, in some cases with a free trial, and start uploading data right away. These full-stack solutions include ETL tools for migrating data and automatically building out visualizations to slice and dice your data.

If you need full control over your data warehousing, or the volumes are larger than SaaS providers can handle, you have the option of rolling your own. If building a data warehouse sounds daunting, building one in the cloud would seemingly only complicate matters. But, in fact, the cloud is simple by comparison.

Some of the questions which are still remained unanswered in my mind are as follows..
1. How data will be stored and secured in Cloud environment?
2. Is this environment really suited for data warehousing applications where volume of data is very high?
3. How will be licensing of Cloud based BI applications? Will it be same as SaaS licensing?
4. What kind of bandwidth required to use Cloud based application?

I am sure we will find anwswers to all of these questions once this technology matures.

Some of interesting links:

1 comment:

  1. A good basic overview. If you want to learn more go to the Cloud Wikipedia page referenced above.