In our previous blog, we looked at a Centralised vs Distributed model of Business Intelligence (BI) Hybrid Solutions. We’re still looking at hybrid BI solutions in this blog (Part Two), but now we’ll be focussing on the debate between cloud and on-premise solutions.
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the last 5 years, you’ll be fully aware of cloud computing and how it has been incorporated into almost every aspect of our personal and business lives. With that in mind, what does this mean for your BI implementations? Should you be using the cloud or keeping it on-premise?
As always, the answer lies in finding the right balance. So, let’s take a deeper look:
Cloud Vs On-Premise: The Pros and Cons
Speaking very generally, there are some initial pros and cons for both cloud and on-premise BI solutions that can help to put hybrid solutions into some context. Cloud based solutions, for example, typically have a much shorter implementation time than on-premise. Likewise, they frequently incur lower upfront costs, and any ongoing costs are predictable and therefore easily managed.
On-premise BI solutions offer far more control and customisation but are at risk of additional hardware costs and lengthy implementation times. That being said, ongoing costs can often work out cheaper as you then own the technology. Having your BI solutions based on-premise also grants you far more control over security – given the upcoming GDPR set to come into force on 25th May this may carry more weight for some businesses.
Hybrid: It Fits Just Right
Unfortunately, for most organisations the broadly defined benefits above mean a single focus on either approach is unlikely to match their unique requirements. Many organisations and businesses have data stored in the cloud, some on-premise, some applications running behind their own firewall, some not – the picture is incredibly complex. Therefore, a hybrid approach must be used to reap the full benefits of BI. But, beyond the obvious, how does this work for organisations and what are those associated benefits?
As a caveat, it’s worth noting that your BI solution should probably align with your business’ wider cloud strategy. If you haven’t got one of those, here's why you need one.
Implementing Your Hybrid BI Solution
Ultimately, modern businesses need the power of choice when it comes to their BI solutions, especially when it comes to hosting. The actual inner workings of it will be too specific and unique to each implementation to discuss here but there are some general rules-of-thumb worth considering.
Whether data resides in the cloud or on-premise should not be the focus, if the right users can access the relevant data from any device based on their permissions. When it has been set up correctly, a hybrid cloud BI solution will give you full control of your data, where it can be accessed and analysed. If you’ve got data more sensitive than the rest (personally identifiable data such as National Insurance Numbers for example), that you only want stored and accessed on-premise but have other data you want freely available via the cloud, then a hybrid solution is the perfect fit.
Conclusion: Getting the Balance Right
Getting the exact fit for your cloud hybrid BI solution will depend on the characteristics of your business, and how you’ll be using your BI solutions. Fundamentally though, the hybrid approach to the cloud vs on-premise approach is a win-win for most organisations.
The flexibility to pick the pros of each approach, whilst minimising the effect of the cons makes it particularly attractive. How far either way you go will be down to you, but as long as you maintain total control of your data and manage it as one, seamless environment, a hybrid approach carries many benefits.
If you’d like to talk to someone about getting the balance of your Hybrid BI Solutions right, get in touch with us and call us on 0800 652 4050.