E-Handbook:

Cloud-based BI and analytics systems start taking a firmer shape

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BI and advanced analytics users find welcome mat in the cloud

The cloud hasn't been a particularly popular destination for analytics applications, whether you're talking about basic business intelligence or advanced analytics. It isn't suddenly becoming a data-analysis hot spot, but there are signs that organizations are increasingly viewing cloud-based BI and analytics architectures as viable alternatives to on-premises systems.

Two recent surveys both point to an upswing in the use of cloud BI tools. Their usage numbers don't match up, perhaps partly because they asked different questions. Thirty-one percent of 383 respondents to a Dresner Advisory Services survey in early 2017 said their organizations were running cloud-based BI applications; meanwhile, 46% of 347 respondents said they were using the cloud for BI or data management in a survey conducted jointly by BARC GmbH and Eckerson Group in the fall of 2016.

Nonetheless, the surveys do indicate that a bigger move to the cloud for BI is afoot. "As data gravity shifts to the cloud, BI and data management is following suit," BARC managing director Carsten Bange and Eckerson Group principal consultant Wayne Eckerson wrote in a report on their survey.

Similarly, Forrester Research analysts Brian Hopkins and Mike Gualtieri wrote in a March 2017 report that corporate clients increasingly say they want to run Hadoop-based big data analytics applications in the cloud. As evidence, 40% of 2,094 respondents to a 2016 Forrester survey said that using public cloud services was part of their big data plans -- the top choice among 13 technology options they were asked about.

Now is the time for companies planning cloud analytics deployments "to decide how far you will go and how fast," Hopkins and Gualtieri wrote. This handbook offers insight and advice to help you decide whether a cloud-based BI and analytics architecture is a place you want to go.

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