It’s no secret that cloud adoption is growing, with the cloud quickly becoming the home for more and more data and analytics solutions. Many businesses commonly have data stored in cloud databases like Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, or in Salesforce. For these organisations that are “heavily cloudy,” an analytics solution hosted in the cloud is a no-brainer.
Cloud adoption in Australia is high. Recent Forrester and Infosys research shows that Australia is ahead of some European countries and the US. But while many organisations have embraced the cloud entirely, there are a lot more who are in the process of making that move, and who have data stored in a range of places – including inside the firewall.
As part of my job, I speak with many of these businesses. They want the flexibility, ease of sharing and quick access of a cloud analytics product. So, how do these organisations – we’ll call them “mostly cloudy” – manage both cloud and on-premise data?
Here are five reasons companies are adopting cloud analytics for on-premise data. It’s no longer just about putting your data in the cloud: it’s about bringing the cloud to your data.
- Cloud analytics is accessible
- Enterprise-grade cloud solutions are secure
- The cloud is self-service
- The cloud scales easily
- The cloud is fast
It’s not enough to have data available in the office anymore. By looking at on-premise data through cloud analytics, it can be easier to access that data in the different ways clients expect to access it these days: on laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Clients want to see dashboards in a coffee shop, restaurant, hotel lobby, or wherever they happen to be. Cloud analytics provide the multi-platform access to data analysis that is increasingly becoming the norm.
Getting outside the company firewall in this way has many advantages. Whether you’re in a meeting with clients or you just need to give them access to a dashboard on their own time, it is often easy to set them up with secure access to a cloud analytics platform. If you’re one of many companies that are making dashboards for customers, this can be useful and powerful. By putting data analysis in the cloud, you’re putting data analytics everywhere.
But if you’re outside your firewall, isn’t your data at risk? The cloud—thanks to a name that brings to mind fog and mist—sounds wispy and ephemeral. How can your data analysis be more secure in the cloud than at home?
The answer is that increasingly, it is. But it is critical for security-minded businesses and IT teams to move to cloud analytics solutions that are built with the enterprise, and with small businesses, in mind.
An enterprise-grade analytics solution will devote significant resources to cloud security and will provide authentication, data security, an oft-updated trust centre to provide updates on any potential security issues, and fast response to patch vulnerabilities when they occur.
Many also face the common business debate of public versus private cloud analytics when discussing security. Depending on the data you work with, you'll need to compare public and private cloud options against the levels of security and management required. For organisations that want to keep behind the firewall, private cloud will be the way to go.
The days when data analysis was purely an IT matter are long gone. More and more businesses are moving to a self-service model of analytics that lets anyone work with data, at every level of the company. This means that business workers don’t need to wait days or weeks for an IT team or an analyst team to program dashboards. It means they can get answers, ask new questions, and get more answers in a matter of minutes.
Recent Gartner research predicts that by 2017 most business users and analysts in organisations will have access to self-service tools to prepare data for analysis. And the cloud goes hand-in-hand with this approach. We all know that work isn’t confined to the desk anymore and that employees are increasingly relying on mobile devices and laptop machines to get work done on the fly. Analytics strategies need to adapt to meet these needs, and the cloud is, often, a great way to get data to workers, wherever they are.
It also means that companies can start to adopt an analytics solution without making a giant investment up front, often driven by IT or a procurement office. I often see analytics deployments starting at the team level, with three or four users, then expanding from department to department across an enterprise.
As long as you have the right infrastructure in place, it is easy to scale a cloud analytics platform to more users and more departments.
As popular as self-service analytics has become, many companies have far more people viewing data-based reports than authoring them. When these are available in the cloud, adding new users is as simple as issuing a username and a password, and bookmarking a website. Removing permissions is just as simple. This is particularly attractive for businesses that need to share dashboards with clients who are outside the organisation.
Out of all the reasons for using cloud analytics, this is the most frequently cited: it’s fast, getting companies the insights they need quicker than they could have imagined a few years ago.
It’s also fast to get up and running, particularly if you’re moving to a hosted cloud solution. There’s no hardware or installation and typically minimal configuration is required. That means people can dive into the data quickly. That speed is hard to resist in today’s marketplace, when getting an edge on competitors can come down to who’s on top of the latest data and making the smartest decisions for right now—not yesterday.
Many of the reasons that kept businesses away from hosted cloud analytics platforms in the past are no longer relevant. Cloud analytics is fast becoming key to business agility as it provides many users with instant and easy access to a comprehensive data context. Today’s revelation is often tomorrow’s common sense and expanded use of cloud analytics looks to be heading in that direction. You can probably expect me to tell you that your analytics forecast should be well and truly be cloudy.
Nigel Mendonca is Tableau Country Manager, ANZ