Last week I attended MicroStrategy World
in Miami and just posted a general overview of the conference and takeaways on the BI4SMB community forum
. One of their key strategic focuses is cloud computing, with three tiers of solution offerings that have recently been released to the market. As I won't be giving an overview of the solutions, here is a link to more details:http://www.microstrategy.com/cloud/
Because MicroStrategy is traditionally an enterprise offering in relation to market penetration and overall focus, the increasing focus on cloud offerings provides more support for SMB adoption over time. After all, the promise of no upfront costs coupled with the ability to take advantage of leading BI and data warehousing technologies is valuable when evaluating the costs and benefits associated with BI deployments. Hopefully these solutions will indeed provide this value to SMBs. Currently, the free offerings can at least give organizations an idea of whether broader adoption will benefit them.
Based on security, performance, features, etc. there isn't much that can be negatively attributed to moving to the cloud. But, SMBs should be aware that when looking at the costs over time, cloud may not be as cost effective. Evaluations should include the following:
- Upfront hardware costs or allocating specific hardware to a BI project.
- Resources required to maintain hardware/software/project over time.
- New hardware over time to account for expansions.
- Yearly fee structure - how things changed based on number of users, data stored, type of user, etc.
- Cost comparison based on initial hardware expenditure and internal resources vs. cloud expansion over time.
- What features/modules are available and do these differ based on price points.
- What about data access and integration?
In reality, the list is close to endless. In addition to costs, organizations need to look at the effort required from business and technical staff as well as the ease of use, training required, etc.
BI in the cloud is definitely opening up the playing field to many organizations that could not adopt broad BI in the past due to limitations. Offerings from vendors such as MicroStrategy that base their cloud offerings on the same solution platform as their on premise version, can help provide full BI offerings to SMBs providing the above factors make sense.