Lines blurring between where data is stored and where it is being analysed
Self-service analytics helps workers everywhere gain new insights to improve business
CLOUD computing is great … theoretically at least. With the cloud, we get to extend our IT platform beyond our on-premises infrastructure, and we get to access applications, data and storage over the Internet, as and when we need it.
Highly scalable, lower cost and no hassle.
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It is no wonder that we are seeing almost everything being offered over the cloud. Some call this the trend of ‘Whatever as-a Service (XaaS).’
Similar to how Database-as-a-Service (DaaS) platforms have become viable options that are fully or partly supplementing in-house databases these days, many business intelligence (BI) and analytics users are also turning to cloud data warehousing technologies, blurring the lines between where data is stored and where it is being analysed.
Such platforms have enabled the use of self-service analytics for organisations, helping workers everywhere gain easier access to information and identify new insights that improve their businesses.
In fact, a recent study by IDC showed that organisations that better meet the needs of business users for ad hoc data analysis are twice as likely to outperform organisations that underserve these needs.
IT’s attitude is key
It used to be that business users and groups within enterprises would turn to the cloud applications to bypass IT roadblocks.
These days, IT is often the chief sponsor for transitioning to the cloud.
The attitude of IT teams towards cloud has definitely changed in recent years. Their concern early on was understandable as the single most important consideration with cloud is security. The thought of having everything running from outside the firewall would have been uncomfortable.
These days, cloud vendors provide 24/7 support, with scaling, testing and applying patches quickly – sometimes even faster than IT.
Naturally, IT departments have started to take this opportunity to get out of the business of setting up and maintaining applications for users, and are focusing on more strategic initiatives like prototyping cloud data ecosystems and enabling self-service analytics for businesses.
Little difference between cloud analytics and data analytics
As enterprises start to adopt a more hybrid data architecture, they are also demanding that analytics vendors support both cloud data and on-premises data. This helps to further promote a self-service analytics culture for companies.
Currently, many vendors, including Tableau, offer customers the choice of connecting to their data in the cloud or working with data on-premises. It is likely that some users do not even need to care whether their data is sitting on-premises or in the cloud.
‘In-house’ clouds are moving outdoors
Hosted environments offered by Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers are becoming a real alternative to setting up physical servers when enterprises want to set up or extend their ‘in-house’ cloud.
As mentioned above, IT departments have less to worry about regarding security (despite some recent, much publicised data leaks involving the cloud).
Overall, data security is less of a concern now. Benefits, like cost efficiency and the ready scalability of the cloud, are also outweighing the risks involved for some enterprises.
No longer a need to build cloud fortresses
In the past, enterprises built data fortresses, where both data can be stored and analytics can be done, and this used to be the only way.
Currently, cloud infrastructure and computing technology has allowed for a different approach where data and computing resources can reside separately, at a low cost too.
This means that the most massive of data assets can be moved into high-compute data processing pipelines, for everything from data discovery to the heaviest of data transformation jobs.
Data is already becoming an essential driver of business decision making, and it is crucial that enterprises empower workers of all levels to have access to data and self-service analytics.
Even more important for an agile business is to let today’s mobile workers have access to data and analytics, not just at their desk in the office, but also when they are on the move or working remotely.
The advancement in cloud and data security technology is making this even more of a reality.
Moving forward, where physical data is stored, where it is accessed from and where analytics is being done, will become less and less significant in the near future, further promoting the user of self-service data analytics.
JY Pook is Asia Pacific vice president at Tableau Software.
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