Cloud BI: How to adopt it successfully
N-iX
2021-09-16T17:08:46+00:00

According to Business Wire, the business intelligence market is expected to reach $40.5B by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 12% over 2021-2026. It comes as no surprise, as BI allows enterprises to boost profitability, determine areas for further growth, and drive full-scale digital transformations. ...

Cloud BI: How to adopt it successfully

According to Business Wire, the business intelligence market is expected to reach $40.5B by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 12% over 2021-2026. It comes as no surprise, as BI allows enterprises to boost profitability, determine areas for further growth, and drive full-scale digital transformations.

But why should you choose cloud BI over traditional BI? How can you benefit from cloud-based BI? Find the answers to these and other questions in the article. 

Cloud BI vs. traditional BI

No modern company can succeed without data analytics, as it is critical to make business decisions based on data and insights. The companies are growing very fast, and so does the amount of data to be analyzed. 

Thus, business intelligence is vital for each company nowadays to succeed. There are two main approaches - traditional or on-premise BI and cloud-based BI analytics. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them. 

cloud BI vs traditional BI

For the businesses that have to process terabytes of data each day, cloud-based BI solutions are the only viable choice. Now, let’s view the benefits of cloud business intelligence in more detail. 

How you can benefit from BI on cloud computing

All departments of your company are separate systems that have peculiarities that need to be considered. Data you get from these resources belong to different worlds, and you need a unified platform to analyze it. In fact, it is the main reason why the vast majority of companies go for cloud business intelligence - the cloud provides such a platform. Cloud environment allows you to develop ETL processes, reporting, use all necessary tools, and more. 

So, with the help of cloud BI analytics, you can: 

  1. Reduce overhead

Without a proper analysis, it is impossible to tell how much extra costs you spend and what expenditures can be optimized. Cloud BI provides thorough reports with valuable insights that identify inefficiencies in business processes. As a result, with cloud-based BI, you get an enhanced operational efficiency, which, in turn, leads to cost savings and reduced overhead. 

  1. Store and analyze all your data in one place

Modern BI cloud providers offer solutions that help you use all the required tools, including those from other cloud vendors. For instance, if you use AWS cloud, you can still build the data pipelines using Data Factory from Azure.

What’s more, BI cloud providers offer a unified platform where you can analyze the performance of departments of your business. All your data will be stored on a single cloud you can easily access. 

For instance, N-iX experts have implemented cloud business intelligence for one of our clients - Global Fortune 100 international engineering and technology company (under NDA). This customer has established its presence in over 60 countries around the world through a complex network of more than 440 subsidiaries and regional entities. 

They needed to streamline inventory management for more warehouses, as their existing logistics solution was difficult to scale. So it was essential to modernize the platform to improve the efficiency of internal logistics.

N-iX professionals have helped the client transform their logistics platform by introducing microservices architecture, DevOps best practices, and implementing some advanced technologies, including cloud BI, ML, AI, NLP, computer vision, etc. 

N-iX experts leverage an Azure SQL database to upload the data from nine different sub-systems that work independently. With the help of Data Factory, this data is uploaded incrementally, once in an hour. Our experts have also streamlined the processes that analyze this data and adjust the production chain accordingly. 

  1. Make informed business decisions 

The main aim of cloud business intelligence solutions is to help you optimize existing processes and develop your business even further. All the reports and dashboards provide you with valuable insights into how your company functions and help you understand what can be improved and optimized. As a result, you can build your business processes as efficiently as possible. 

For instance, based on the insights, you can see that you lack certain details that help your machines function properly. Thus, you decide to order them, and the production process gets more efficient.

With all the pains the cloud business intelligence can solve, you should also be aware of some challenges that may arise while you adopt it.

Challenges of cloud BI and ways to overcome them

  1. Price of cloud computing BI

Some businesses are afraid to adopt cloud BI due to its price. Such an approach suits only a short-time perspective. In the long run, you risk struggling with overhead. What’s more, though BI on cloud computing is rather an expensive solution, you can implement it incrementally, as it is highly scalable.

Solution: do not adopt cloud-based BI analytics in each department at once. 

Let’s take a factory as an example. It comprises a range of departments that all need analysis. However, for some departments (e.g., the production), analysis is more critical than for others, as it influences the revenue more. 

  1. Complex discovery phase needed for cloud computing BI

Working with cloud BI  requires a comprehensive discovery phase that can take two weeks to two months. Your vendor has to analyze your business needs and requirements, calculate the price of cloud-based BI solutions for you, etc. All these processes and ongoing communication take time. 

Solution: choose a technology partner that has strong expertise in cloud business intelligence. Such a provider has a streamlined approach to the discovery phase and will be able to perform it as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

  1. Finding skilled experts to work with key BI cloud vendors

BI on cloud computing requires highly skilled experts with a deep knowledge of the needed tools. Thus, you need a strong team. This team should comprise data engineers, BI engineers to work on databases, DevOps professionals, and data analysts who help use the BI tools correctly or create reports and dashboards.  

And such experts are expensive to hire on-site and are not easy to come by. Due to the talent shortage, the task of gathering a development team gets even more difficult. As a result, more businesses go for outsourcing cloud-based BI development. 

Solution: opt for outsourcing cloud computing BI. In this case, your provider will offer the team structure that best fits your business. Also, typically the vendor takes responsibility for all recruitment processes and gathers a team promptly. 

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But what skills do your experts need to possess to perform BI on cloud computing? Let's find out. 

What skills do experts need to develop cloud BI solutions?

  • Data engineering. Data engineers build data pipelines that help ingest, store, and process large data sets from various sources. They also build data lakes and data warehouses to store your existing data;
  • Design skills as data visualization via live dashboards, interactive reports, charts, graphs, etc., are critical for presenting business insights quickly and effectively. 
  • Knowledge of key tools of leading BI cloud providers. 

cloud BI: tools

The best tools for cloud BI

All BI cloud vendors provide three major types of tools for data management, data discovery, and data analysis. It is difficult to say what tools are the best; it all depends on your specific needs, the environment you use, and many other factors. In this section, we will view the main tools provided by BI cloud vendors, such as Azure, AWS, and GCP. 

BI clouds: Azure

If you use the Microsoft ecosystem, Azure is the most viable choice for you. What’s more, Azure was recently recognized as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Augmented BI Platforms, according to Forrester. This BI cloud provider offers a wide range of tools that help implement cloud business intelligence solutions. Let’s view some of them in more detail. 

Azure SQL Database is a relational database that helps optimize performance and durability with up-to-date AI-powered features. This database also offers automatic scaling due to serverless compute and Hyperscale storage options. 

Data Factory is an Azure ETL tool that is used for serverless data migration and transformation. With the help of Data Factory, you can prepare clean data you will later leverage for your business needs. 

Cosmos DB is a NoSQL database service for app development. It is applied to achieve fast scalability, high performance, and the ability to withstand high system loads. For instance, it can power IoT solutions by streaming vehicle telemetry for innovative fleet solutions, streaming and analyzing data for real-time insights, and archiving data for data warehouse analytics. 

Azure DevOps is a tool that covers the entire application lifecycle and provides version control, requirements management, project management, automated builds, testing, release management capabilities, and reporting. Thus, it enables DevOps capabilities.

BI clouds: AWS

PostgreSQL is a relational database management system that emphasizes extensibility and SQL compliance. 

Redshift is a fully managed data warehouse service that is built on PostgreSQL. Apart from cloud-based BI, it is used for operational analytics, data sharing, and predictive analytics. 

Learn the key benefits of Redshift, Snowflake, and BigQuiery

DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database that provides high performance and offers built-in security, backup and restore, as well as in-memory caching.

BI clouds: GCP

BigQuery is a cloud data warehouse solution provided by Google. This product does not have virtual machines, setting keys/indexes, and software. There is no need to deploy multiple clusters and duplicate data into each one with this tool, as it has separate storage and computing. It is used for data warehouse migration, predictive analytics, and data consolidation. 

Open-source tools:

Apache Airflow is a management platform that authors, schedules, and monitors workflows. This business intelligence cloud service allows to visualize pipelines that run in production, monitor progress, and troubleshoot issues.

MongoDB is a cross-platform document-oriented NoSQL database. It is a highly secure cloud business intelligence solution deployed in a unique Virtual Private Cloud to provide network isolation. 

These tools help to run a smooth and efficient cloud BI process. Here at N-iX, we have extensive experience with all the tools mentioned above and even more. 

Why implement BI solutions with N-iX?

  1. We have expertise in key cloud BI tools;
  2. N-iX has long-standing expertise in building data lakes and data warehouses
  3. Our BI specialists have extensive experience in data grouping, modeling, visualization, etc.;
  4. As far as cloud is concerned, N-iX is a Microsoft gold certified partner, a certified AWS Select Consulting Partner, and a Google Cloud Platform Partner;
  5. We are compliant with international security regulations, including PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and GDPR, to guarantee maximum security of your sensitive data.

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By Mykhailo Romanenko September 16, 2021
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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European software development service company that helps businesses across the globe expand their engineering capabilities and develop successful software products. Founded in 2002, N-iX has formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies, including OpenText, Fluke Corporation, AVL, Lebara, Currencycloud, RateSetter, TuneIn, and many others. With more than 1,700 professionals, N-iX offers expert solutions in software engineering, cloud-native services, data analytics, embedded software, IoT, machine learning, and other tech domains covering a wide variety of sectors, including finance, manufacturing, telecom, supply chain, to name a few.

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