1 Understanding Cloud BI A comprehensive guide to the most agile approach to business intelligence.
2 Contents 1. Introduction 2. Get Your Head in the Cloud 3. Don t Pass on PaaS 4. Reports vs. Dashboards 5. Summing It Up: GoodData s Place in the Cloud 6. Glossary 2
3 Introduction Just a few short years ago, cloud business intelligence (BI) was a chubby, fluffy baby, bouncing around unrestrained and babbling nonsense no one really understood. In a seemingly blink of an eye, however, cloud BI has matured into a well-defined, articulate resource that is ready to enter the workforce and willing to work for cheap. They grow up so fast, don t they? Traditional BI systems are neither BI is a top priority. 55% of companies reported it is a high or critical priority for IT to improve the use of data and analytics so better business decisions and outcomes can be made. Forrester: Best Practices: Maximize Your Chances of Business Intelligence Success flexible nor agile enough to keep pace with online sources that churn out data by the second. The value of real-time data has become clear, forcing BI systems to evolve from complex infrastructure investments toward more agile, cloud-based platforms. Cloud BI is more flexible, easier to scale and, most important, much faster to deploy than ever before. As a result, larger and more obscure data sets can be collected and turned into a jaw-dropping array of raw digital inputs from nearly every internal and external aspect of business. Everybody in your company can have access to data they can go to town on, customize and share. It will be the start of your own data revolution. It used to be that all of IT had moved to agile except for BI. That s now changed. The cloud is all grown up, and it s changing the data analytics game for good. 3
4 Get Your Head in the Cloud Admit it when you first heard the term cloud computing bandied about, you thought, Wow! That sounds heavenly. It sounded lightweight and sexy. You wanted to hear more. And in the past few years, you ve gotten an earful, as advancements in the power, accessibility and reliability of remotely hosted, on-demand services for software (SaaS), platforms (PaaS) and infrastructure (IaaS) have been made. It was all leading up to this moment, when cloud computing has become fast enough, secure enough and agile enough that large enterprises have to take it seriously. A little history lesson: It s been since 1999, when Salesforce.com launched its eye-opening portal for enterprise applications (it made cloud a buzzword) that people have been considering the advantages of cloud computing. In 2002, Amazon Web Services The near future of BI. Cloud BI solutions are on the rise. In fact, 38% of companies are planning a BI SaaS project before the end of debuted with much fanfare. The next big thing was Google Docs in 2006, when the potential of public cloud computing became more mainstream. That was the same year that Amazon s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) hit the streets, offering IT folks and developers a way to spin up new servers in minutes and scale capacity at a manageable cost. This was especially important to start-ups and webrepreneurs who could not always predict spikes in load (or afford to pay for unnecessary capacity). Take Instagram, for example. This hip photo-sharing app that started with one server gained 1 million active users in 12 hours after it launched its Android app. And Instagram was ready, because it could just add more capacity on demand (and because wisely it built it to scale, as should others). Fast-forward to 2013 and pretty much everyone is realizing that cloud computing is the fastest and most innovative way to measure and improve customer, partner and employee interactions. And for many IT executives, the evolution continues as they move toward platforms. Forrester: Big Data Meets Cloud 4
5 Don t Pass on PaaS Cloud computing is on the rise. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud-based business application services will grow from $13.4 billion in 2011 to $32.2 billion in 2016, a five-year CAGR of 19.1% Market Trends: Platform as a Service, Worldwide, , 2H12 Update You didn t intend to be a hoarder, but it just sort of happened. You started collecting a little data, and then a little more, and before you knew it, you were overrun by piles of data multiplying by the minute. Take a deep breath. The cloud can help you get organized. Cloud BI comes with storage, processes and managed services already built in. Choose the full-service offering, and you can outsource your entire stack to the cloud. Or pick and choose the parts you want the cloud to handle. It s up to you. You re probably already familiar with Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, in which you can make use of software that is hosted on a centralized network service. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is an outgrowth of SaaS and offers the speed, flexibility and agility you need to keep up with your constantly changing data. Sound expensive? It s not. PaaS is actually a cost-effective alternative to the traditional IT infrastructure. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reported PaaS has been shown to reduce costs by more than half, in some cases, and improve return on investment by more than 700 percent. Fully elastic, PaaS is a pay-as-you-go service no more ponying up for server space and technical support you aren t actively using. It s also fully scalable. Just say the word, and PaaS will instantly deliver more resources for you to grow. When it comes to cloud computing, the sky s the limit. Literally. It s no wonder PaaS is quickly becoming the norm, rather than the exception, for IT leaders. In fact, by 2016, IDC predicts that public PaaS will account for 8.5 percent of overall application development and deployment revenue, with strong growth occurring in every region of the world. 5
6 Reports vs. Dashboards Cloud BI was raised right. It not only collects and organizes all of your data, but it also helps you present it in the most appealing and approachable manner possible. What a gentleman that cloud BI is. While traditional BI infrastructures rely on yesterday s data to build complex reports, cloud BI uses only the freshest of data to keep your organization up to date. Get your first taste of real-time access and ad hoc reporting on external and internal data, and you ll never want the old, stale stuff that traditional BI systems produce again. With cloud BI comes a powerful, rich data visualization framework that relies on dynamic dashboards to tell your data s story. Data needs to make sense, and interactive dashboards are the easiest way to present data in a way that is both comprehensible and accessible. Dashboards enable users to create a simple interface that can Here s something to report: Nearly 90% of companies find success with business intelligence. Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study be accessed by virtually anyone anywhere. On-demand metrics included in the dashboard reveal the full story about your market, customers and company and put everyone on the same page. Watch as your company innovates like crazy, modifies strategies on the fly and forecasts far off into the future. With dashboards, the goal is to bring your company performance to life on a single screen. In the words of data visualization guru Stephen Few, Most information dashboards that are used in business today fall far short of their potential. The root of the problem is not technology at least not primarily but poor visual design. To serve their purpose and fulfill their potential, dashboards must display a dense array of information in a small amount of space in a manner that communicates clearly and immediately. 1 More than a reporting tool, cloudbased analytics partner with you to help you make better business decisions. 1 Stephen Few, Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data, O Reilly Media, January
7 Sum It Up: GoodData s Place in the Cloud GoodData understands that better data inspires bigger ideas. Our cloud-based platform integrates data from any source and then takes care of the storage and maintenance processes for you, so you re free to concentrate on what really matters: to provide fast answers to your users business-critical questions. We know you have decisions that need to be made and dimes that need to be turned on. Built on the best technology out there, the GoodData Platform makes data start paying its way. With real-time access and ad hoc reporting on internal and external data, our platform serves as an overachieving business intelligence reporter that delivers actionable insight into your sales, marketing, social and customer service data. The open architecture of the GoodData Platform makes it easy to add data sources, change data transformations, modify logical data models, update metrics, reports and dashboards, and propagate changes to users instantly. And with an appealing, easy-to-use interface and dashboards, users are able to create their own dynamic charts and graphs whenever they need them. No more waiting for IT. We ve never met an industry we couldn t help or a data source we couldn t integrate. With GoodData, there s something for everyone. Built on the best technology out there, the GoodData Platform makes data start paying its way. 7
8 Glossary Here s a handy glossary of terms that are frequently bandied about at GoodData. Analysis The process of transforming raw data into usable information, often presented in the form of a published analytical article (e.g., a report), in order to add value to the statistical output. Analytics Using a collection of data to search for and discover patterns that shed light on certain business processes. Attribute A characteristic of an object or entity. For example, a sales record could have attributes such as salesperson, store, region, date, etc. Breakdown In statistics, to perform an exploratory analysis by splitting one number into components or essential features. For example, you can break down quarterly sales to sales by month. Business Intelligence (BI) Technology used to identify and analyze business data, like profits categorized by department or product classification. Cloud computing Computing that relies on the Internet, thereby allowing instant access to applications or software programs that are loaded somewhere besides the computer on which they are being accessed. Collaboration A structured process where two or more people work together toward a common goal by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Cross-tabulation A data summarization tool that enables you to reorganize and summarize selected columns and rows of data to obtain a desired report. Cross-tabulation does not change the underlying data. Rather, it lets you slice and dice the data and view it from different perspectives. For example, Sales can be viewed up by Time in the columns and cross-tabulated against Stores in rows. (See also pivot table. ) Dashboard An interactive user interface that, much like a physical automobile dashboard, organizes information in a way that is easy for the user to read, use and communicate with. Data Various pieces of information collected into a single unit that is used for reference or analysis. Data mart A data storage space that functions like a data warehouse but is used to house particular subsets of a larger data classification. For example, a data warehouse could store all sales data, and its corresponding data marts would each store a set of that sales data divided by department. Data migration The process of moving data from one database to another, or the transfer of data from multiple platforms into a single platform. Data mining The process of examining large sets of data and extracting useful patterns and information from them. Data model An abstract visual model that illustrates how applications should be created to store and access collected business data. It documents the necessary interaction between different teams members to create appropriate applications. Data warehouse A place where data is stored for archival, analytical and security purposes. Data can be on a variety of topics, including an organization s sales, salaries, operational data, inventory data, etc. In addition, data warehouses require systems that make it easy to access and analyze the data. Dimension Broad categories for organizing items in a data set. A dimension may have one or more hierarchies applied to it, providing the means to slice and dice the data. For the Date dimension, there are several possible hierarchies: Day > Month > Year, Day > Week > Year, Day > Month > Quarter > Year, etc. Drill across Performing data analysis across dimensions. For example, an HR application may look at an employee s salary (in, say, the Employee dimension) and examine it over the past five years (in the Time dimension). Drill down Performing data analysis by exploring more detailed data. It is done by revealing lower-level data that was previously not displayed. For example, you can drill down from state to city. End user The ultimate party or audience for which a product is designed. ETL An acronym that stands for extract, transform and load. The phrase refers to a process that involves extracting data, transforming it into useful pieces and loading the pieces into a database or data warehouse. Fact (1) Any type of measurement used to gauge some quantifiable component of a company s performance, such as revenues, return on investment, and so on. (2) Factual or quantitative data stored in the data warehouse. Facts are usually the numbers measured in reports. (See also metric. ) Filter A filter is a saved set of chosen criteria that specifies a subset of information to be displayed. Granularity The extent to which a system is subdivided. For example, is revenue data divided just by department or also by each individual within each department? 8
9 Glossary Here s a handy glossary of terms that are frequently bandied about at GoodData. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Raw (block) storage, firewalls, load balancers and networks, on demand from large pools installed in data centers. Accommodates LAN or WAN connectivity, in carrier clouds or via dedicated VPNs. Metric An aggregated fact (see Fact above). For example, Total Sales is a metric. Multidimensional Analysis (MAQL) A data analysis process that divides a set of data into two or more subcomponents. For example, looking at the amount of total revenue of a single department over several years would be one-dimensional, but comparing total revenue of several different departments over the course of several years would be multidimensional. OLAP An acronym that stands for OnLine Analytical Processing. A series of applications used for data mining. On-Demand A term that literally means when needed or required. With cloud computing, the user has immediate access to data stored in remote locations and can titrate resources up and down almost immediately, as desired. On-Prem Traditional solution where the full stack is contained on your servers. Data may be accessed and available via cloud clients, but you maintain control of everything behind your firewall. Platform as a Service (PaaS) Networks, servers and storage that facilitate deployment of Web-based applications and services. Usually includes IaaS layers as well. Pivot table A data summarization tool that allows you to reorganize and summarize selected columns and rows of data to obtain a desired report. Pivot tables do not change the underlying data. Rather, they enable you to slice and dice the data and view it from different perspectives. Record In the context of a relational database, a record represents a single, implicitly structured data item. In simple terms, a database can be thought of as consisting of rows and columns. Each row in a related table represents a set of related data, or record, and every record in a table has the same structure. Report Generally, a type of document prepared by someone or a group of people showing a summary of data. Relational OnLine Analytical Processing (ROLAP) A classification of data mining tools that analyze data in a multidimensional model, but do not require precomputation or storage. Software as a Service (SaaS) Hosted on the software company s servers and deployed to its customer via cloud computing. Instead of purchasing the hardware and licenses of traditional software, SaaS can be updated automatically and offers users term subscriptions. Slice and dice A term used to describe the drillingdown function of multidimensional analysis. Slicing and dicing gives users the ability to access data warehouses from seemingly endless different perspectives. Tag A keyword used to describe a report. GoodData enables users to associate tags with their reports. These keywords are stored with the report and show up in appropriate keyword searches. Query The process through which data is extracted from a database for analysis. Widget An add-on application that a user can install and implement as a supplement to a larger application. 9
10 Have questions? We ve got clear and honest answers. Corporate Headquarters 111 Sutter Street, 4th Floor San Francisco, CA View Map Call (415) to learn more about GoodData. About GoodData GoodData is the only cloud-based business intelligence platform that enables more than 20,000 global companies to unlock the power of their data to get fast answers to business-critical questions, and easily visualize and share their data to build a culture of innovation. GoodData is headquartered in San Francisco and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Growth Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Next World Capital, Tenaya Capital, TOTVS SA, and Windcrest Partners. For more information, read our blog, visit our website and on Twitter.