Cloud Based and Open Source - Can Business Intelligence Get Any Cheaper Than This?

Just yesterday (April 7, 2009), Satyam Computer Services Ltd and Pentaho Corporation announced that they would undertake an "On Demand BI Solutions" project together. While I haven't thoroughly studied the implications of this partnership, I tried to do a little research on what an "On Demand BI solution" was in the first place. Then it just dawned on me ... out there, already ripe for the picking (not necessarily the product that these guys were selling) are cloud based open source business intelligence solutions. WOW.

Let me try to put this all in a nutshell.

Cloud based & Open Source & Business Intelligence - Just the basic ingredients you would need to cook up an unbeatable solution geared towards streamlining operations especially on the network to subsequently bring down costs. Let's look at them individually to appreciate what kind of advantage a combination of these three brings to businesses faced with the onslaught of economic challenges (global financial crisis or not).

Business Intelligence (BI)

BI is the answer to a business that relies heavily on being able to process a flood of information in order to meet the demands of its clients. The telecommunications business easily comes to mind here. With the rapid development of numerous technologies (like 2G, 3G, 2.5G, HSDPA), standards (GSM and CDMA), the rapidly increasing number of users, and the various types of data (audio, video and text), it is clear that a capable solution has to be in place to make sense of it all. 

Only when all this information is collated and presented in a manner that can help top executives make the right decisions, can a telecommunications company hope to survive in such a challenging environment. Decision makers should be able to pinpoint what's hot and what's not or what products and services are giving them bigger profits. This is where BI comes in. It acts like a traffic management system that deals with bumper-to-bumper traffic without having to widen the streets. Sometimes, all it takes to diffuse traffic jams are re-routing schemes and one way streets. And that's how BI operates.

With BI, operations are streamlined, thus preventing unnecessary expenses.

Cloud Based BI

If you think BI by itself is already a great way to cut on operational expenses, then you're right. But you'd be awed with the possibilities that a cloud based BI solution can bring. When computing is moved to the cloud, no longer will you need your own servers or expensive hardware... yes, no more rooms to cool them in as well. Sure, you'll need workstations but they'll be understandably much less costly. That's because the applications that your people will be using will be less power hungry as all the needed computations are done elsewhere.

What's more, with your data in the cloud, you'll be able to access them anywhere you go for as long as you're online. Not only that, you can manage, configure, and monitor your system and generate reports as well ... again, from virtually any place on the globe

The application you'll need to do all these? ... a web browser. That's right: Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google's Chrome.

Open Source Cloud Based BI

Have you been doing computations in your head? If you have, I won't be surprised if you've started drooling over the implications brought forth so far. Can it get any better than this? I'm glad you asked. With all these features and advantages, you'd think the company who'd be offering these services would make a killing on licensing fees. Well, some. But not all. This is, after all, a world blessed with open source. 

So, yes, as I've lately discovered, there are open source, cloud based business intelligence solutions. With no more license fees to worry about, you can bring down capital expenditures. And with all the cost-saving benefits mentioned earlier, it would be very difficult to say no to such a solution. Not everyone needs this, but those who do should very well start studying their options. This is definitely one advantage you wouldn't want your competition have a head start on.


natepm said...

Have you tried this yet or is it just a spiffy idea? I assume that in most cases the raw data doesn't originate in the cloud so there's an inherent replication problem that may (or may not) limit the usefulness.

johnV said...

Hi Natepm,

Thanks for dropping by.

No no, I haven't tried any of this yet.

If you mean to ask whether having a cloud based open source BI solution is just an idea, it is not. Pentaho is actually offering these sevices already.

I just discovered that when I chanced upon their press release through one of the articles I received via Google alerts. Just wanted to share my thoughts about it, that's all.

johnV said...

Slight correction. The press release is found in the Satyam site.