Untitled Document
 Register Now & Save!
Untitled Document
2008 West Diamond Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 West Platinum Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 West Gold Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Silver Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Bronze Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 West Exhibitors
Untitled Document
2008 West Media Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Diamond Sponsor
Untitled Document
2008 East Platinum Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Gold Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Silver Sponsors
Untitled Document
2008 East Exhibitors
Untitled Document
2008 Media Sponsors
Latest News
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine,...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attribute...
Data scientists must access high-performance compu...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but w...
Long-term partners Fujitsu Limited and Citrix Syst...
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy serve...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be e...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley,...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5...
Can't Miss RSS Feed
Subscribe to the RSS Feed & Get All The Conference News As It Happens!
Google Chrome and Business Intelligence in the Cloud
Panorama this week released the latest version of its gadget for Google Docs

What will Business Intelligence be like in the future? "BI in the Cloud" architecture is only going to be feasible when most of your source data lives in the cloud already, possibly in something something like SQL Server Data Services or Amazon Simple DB or Google BigTable; or possibly in a hosted app like Salesforce.com.

The big news last week was of course Google's announcement of Chrome. And as several of the more informed bloggers noted (eg Nick Carr, Tim McCoy), the point of Chrome is to be not so much a browser as a platform for online applications, leading to a world where there is no obvious distinction between online and offline applications.

When I think about applications I think about Business Intelligence applications, and of course thinking about online BI applications and Google I thought of Panorama - which incidentally this week released the latest version of its gadget for Google Docs.

Now, I'll be honest and say that I've had a play with it and it is very slow and there are a few bugs still around. But it's a beta, and I'm told that it's running on a test server and performance will be better once it is released, and anyway it's only part of a wider client tool story (outlined and analysed nicely by Nigel Pendse here) which starts in the full Novaview client and involves the ability to publish views into Google Docs for a wider audience and for collaboration.

I guess it's a step towards the long-promised future where the desktop PC will have withered away into nothing more than a machine to run a browser on, and all our BI apps and all our data will be accessible over the web.

This all makes me wonder what BI will be like in the future...Time for some wild, half-formed speculation:

  • Starting at the back, the first objection raised to a purely 'BI in the cloud' architecture is that you've got to upload your data to it somehow. Do you fancy trying to push what you load into your data warehouse every day up to some kind of web service? I thought not. So I think 'BI in the cloud' architecture is only going to be feasible when most of your source data lives in the cloud already, possibly in something something like SQL Server Data Services or Amazon Simple DB or Google BigTable; or possibly in a hosted app like SalesForce.com. This requirement puts us a long way into the future already, although for smaller data volumes and one-off analyses perhaps it's not so much an issue.

  • You also need your organization to accept the idea of storing its most valuable data in someone else's data center. Now I'm not saying this as a kind of "why don't those Luddites hurry up and accept this cool new thing"-type comment, because there are some very valid objections to be made to the idea of cloud computing at the moment, like: can I guarantee good service levels? Will the vendor I chose go bust, or get bought, or otherwise disappear in a year or two? What are the legal implications of moving data to the cloud and possibly across borders? It will be a while before there are good answers to these questions and even when there are, there's going to be a lot of inertia that needs to be overcome.

    The analogy most commonly used to describe the brave new world of cloud computing is with the utility industry: you should be able to treat IT like electricity or water and treat it like a service you can plug into whenever you want, and be able to assume it will be there when you need it (see, for example, "The Big Switch").

    As far as data goes, though, I think a better analogy is with the development of the banking industry. At the moment we treat data in the same way that a medieval lord treated his money: everyone has their own equivalent of a big strong wooden box in the castle where the gold is kept, in the form of their own data centre. Nowadays the advantages of keeping money in the bank are clear - why worry about thieves breaking in and stealing your gold in the night, why go to the effort of moving all those heavy bags of gold around yourself, when it's much safer and easier to manage and move money about when it's in the bank? We may never physically see the money we possess but we know where it is and we can get at it when we need it. And I think the same attitude will be taken of data in the long run, but it does need a leap of faith to get there (how many people still keep money hidden in a jam jar in a kitchen cupboard?).

  • Once your data's in the cloud, you're going to want to load it into a hosted data warehouse of some kind, and I don't think that's too much to imagine given the cloud databases already mentioned. But how to load and transform it? Not so much of an issue if you're doing ELT, but for ETL you'd need a whole bunch of new hosted ETL services to do this. I see Informatica has one in Informatica On Demand; I'm sure there are others.

  • You're also going to want some kind of analytical engine on top - Analysis Services in the cloud anyone? Maybe not quite yet, but companies like Vertica (http://www.vertica.com/company/news_and_events/20080513) and Kognitio (http://www.kognitio.com/services/businessintelligence/daas.php) are pushing into this area already; the architecture this new generation of shared-nothing MPP databases surely lends itself well to the cloud model: if you need better performance you just reach for your credit card and buy a new node.

  • You then want to expose it to applications which can consume this data, and in my opinion the best way of doing this is of course through an OLAP/XMLA layer. In the case of Vertica you can already put Mondrian on top of it (http://www.vertica.com/company/news_and_events/20080212) so you can already have this if you want it, but I suspect that you'd have to invest as much time and money to make the OLAP layer scale as you had invested to make the underlying database scale, otherwise it would end up being a bottleneck. What's the use of having a high-performance database if your OLAP tool can't turn an MDX query, especially one with lots of calculations, into an efficient set of SQL queries and perform the calculations as fast as possible? Think of all the work that has gone into AS2008 to improve the performance of MDX calculations - the performance improvements compared to AS2005 are massive in some cases, and the AS team haven't even tackled the problem of parallelism in the formula engine at all yet (and I'm not sure if they even want to, or if it's a good idea). Again there's been a lot of buzz recently about the implementation of MapReduce by Aster and Greenplum to perform parallel processing within the data warehouse, which although it aims to solve a slightly different set of problems, it nonetheless shows that problem is being thought about.

  • Then it's onto the client itself. Let's not talk about great improvements in usability and functionality, because I'm sure badly designed software will be as common in the future as it is today. It's going to be delivered over the web via whatever the browser has evolved into, and will certainly use whatever modish technologies are the equivalent of today's Silverlight, Flash, AJAX etc. But will it be a stand-alone, specialised BI client tool, or will there just be BI features in online spreadsheets(or whatever online spreadsheets have evolved into)? Undoubtedly there will be good examples of both but I think the latter will prevail. It's true even today that users prefer their data in Excel, the place they eventually want to work with their data; the trend would move even faster if MS pulled their finger out and put some serious BI features in Excel...

    In the short-term this raises an interesting question though: do you release a product which, like Panorama's gadget, works with the current generation of clunky online apps in the hope that you can grow with them? Or do you, like Good Data and Birst (which I just heard about yesterday, and will be taking a closer look at soon) create your own complete, self-contained BI environment which gives a much better experience now but which could end up being an online dead-end? It all depends on how quickly the likes of Google and Microsoft (which is supposedly going to be revealing more about its online services platform soon) can deliver usable online apps; they have the deep pockets to be able to finance these apps for a few releases while they grow into something people want to use, but can smaller companies like Panorama survive long enough to reap the rewards? Panorama has a traditional BI business that could certainly keep it afloat, although one wonders whether they are angled to be acquired by Google.

So there we go, just a few thoughts I had. Anyone got any comments? I like a good discussion!

 

About Chris Webb
Chris Webb is an IT Consultant based in London, UK.

In order to post a comment you need to be registered and logged in.

Register | Sign-in

Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Great article. Lots of good points are made here. "Cloud" computing makes a lot of sense and will undoubtedly be accepted by many organizations in the future. Currently the BI SaaS offering is in a very early stage of development, but it also offers a lot of useful feature. Anyone with a spreadsheet that wants to do analysis in a collaborative manner can accomplish this more easily than ever before. Panorama's new flash gadget which is available to both Google doc users and iGoogle users can be leveraged by linking it to existing OLAP data sources in only a matter of minutes. As the article points out, there are challenges. Uploading transactional databases to the "cloud" is not a very realistic strategy. However, it is realistic to upload reconciled data which can be a much smaller set of data while still offering significant analysis abilities. Another common objection to BI SaaS is security. The data used in BI analysis is typically some of the most confidential and critical to an organization's success. Pushing this data to a third party is not something to take lightly. However, with today's highly redundant data centers and encryption techniques it is likely that BI data on the cloud will commonly be more secure that it would be in self maintained IT infrastructure. This is an exciting paradigm shift that the BI industry and software industry in general is going through. It will be very interesting to watch this transition.


Untitled Document

Call 201 802-3020 or Click Here to Save $100!

Save $100

 Sponsorship Opportunities

Virtualization Conference & Expo, California and London is the leading event in its third year covering the booming market of Virtualization for the enterprise. Now featuring Cloud Computing Expo, this leading event will surely deliver the #1 i-technology educational and networking opportunity of the year for leading Virtualization technology providers.



Who Should Attend?

Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.

Cloud Computing Bootcamp

Introducing at Cloud Computing Expo 2008 West the world's first-ever full one-day, immersive "Cloud Computing Bootcamp" - led by developer-entrepreneur Alan Williamson, Founder of Blog-City.com and creator of the OpenBlueDragon CFML runtime engine.

View the full one-day schedule

Video Coverage of Virtualization Conference
on SYS-CON.TV

David Greschler: Virtualization Beyond the Datacenter to the Desktop
Miko Matsumura: Time Oriented Architecture: Evolution by Design?
Brian Stevens: The Future of the Virtual Enterprise
Kevin Brown: Leveraging Desktop Virtualization for Security, Manageability and Usability Beyond the Perimeter

Video Coverage of the Virtualization Power Panel 2007

Virtualization Power Panel 2007 with Gordon Jackson, David Christian, Ken Jisser and Ben Rudolf

 Conference Media Sponsor: Cloud Computing Journal

Cloud Computing Journal aims to help open the eyes of Enterprise IT professionals to the economics and strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Cloud computing - the provision of scalable IT resources as a service, using Internet technologies - potentially impacts every aspect of how IT deploys and operates software.

Cloud Computing Expo 2008 Speakers Include...


VOGELS
Amazon


FEINBERG
EMC


WELTMAN
Yahoo

NICKOLOV
3Tera

HAAR
Appistry

ZHOU
Platform Computing

HERROD
VMware

KEAGY
GoGrid

KRISHNAN
ParaScale

COHEN
Enomaly

EATON
Cloudworks

BRYCE
Mosso

SHALOM
GigaSpaces

SOMAL
VMware

CHU
VMware

THORSTEN VON EICKEN
RightScale



SYS-CON EVENTS


Past Events Archive

SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2008 East
soa2008east.sys-con.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2008 East
virt2008east.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2008 Conference & Expo East
ajaxmar08.sys-con.com
SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2007 West
www.soaworld2007.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2007 West
virt2007west.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2007 Conference & Expo West
ajaxoct07.sys-con.com
SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2007 East
soa2007east.sys-con.com
Virtualization Conference & Expo 2007 East
virt2007east.sys-con.com
AJAXWorld 2007 Conference & Expo East
ajaxmarch07.sys-con.com
Other SYS-CON Events
events.sys-con.com

SOAWorld & Conference Alumni Delegates Represents...

• AccuRev
• Adea Solutions
• Adobe Systems, Inc [3 delegates]
• ADP
• Aeropostale, Inc
• Aetna
• Akbank Training Center
• American Family Insurance
• American International College
• American Modern Insurance
• Amphion Innovations
• Amplify LLC, Clipmarks [2 delegates]
• Anderson Consulting
• Arrow Electronics [3 delegates]
• Ashcroft Inc
• Athabasca University
• ATS
• Audatex
• Avanade, Inc.
• Avaya Inc. [5 delegates]
• Azul [2 delegates]
• Backbase [2 delegates]
• Bank of America
• Bank of NY
• Barnes and Noble
• Barnex Investment International Limited
• BEA
• Bear Stearns [2 delegates]
• Bendel Newspaper Company Limited
• BizInnovative
• Bloomberg [2 delegates]
• BlueBrick Inc.
• BMC Software
• Boeing
• Bottomline Technologies [2 delegates]
• BP
• Broadcom

   read more...
Cloud Computing Blogs
In other words, VMware’s server density is higher. Boles suggests this means that customers should be “assessing virtualisation on a ‘cost per application’ basis. VM density has a sign
Traditionally, the way people have implemented high availability is by using a high-availability management package like Linux-HA[1], then configure it in detail for each application, file system moun