TDWI Webinar – BI in the Cloud

Today, TDWI held a webinar on BI in the Cloud. The simple summation: It’s slowly gaining a foothold, but it’s early.

The presentation was a tag team between Fern Halper, Research Director, Advance Analytics, and Suzanne Hoffman, Sr. Director, Analyst Relations at Tableau Software, the webinar’s sponsor. Fern Halper’s focus, along with plugging her books, was that she sees people beginning to turn the corner in understanding and using the Cloud for BI. A number of indicators of that were slides of survey results from the recent TDWI conference. One slide pointed to results shown 25% of attendees rejecting the public Cloud, at least in the short term and 36% don’t yet know. That means only 39% are either already using it or planning on using it. It’s growing, but not yet the norm.

Another key aspect of her talk was on a subject many people don’t consider until it’s too late. While people looking at the Cloud focus on the risks of getting on the cloud, such as security and compliance issues, there are issues related to a key concern that exists regardless of where your data resides: Vendor choice.

Your costs have gone up more than expected. Another vendor comes along with features you really need. What do you do? It’s hard enough to migrate between applications that you manage on premises. When your data is hosted by others, what is the access scenario? How will you get your data from one system to another? Decision makers should be planning exit strategies as part of the purchase decision.

Suzanne Hoffman’s segment covered, at a much higher and briefer level, the content of the BBBT presentation I’ve previously described. Due to that briefness and a question from one attendee, I learned something I missed the other day. Tableau Online is the server only. Anyone accessing it must have at least one desktop version to work with it to set up database relations. In this era, where more and more companies are recreating their interfaces using HTML5 in order to provide full functionality anywhere, it’s interesting that a company often described as a disruptive technology is lagging in this respect. This isn’t a problem in the short term, as delivery on multiple devices is still provided and it’s not much of a problem setting up the links on a desktop, but it’s something to watch.

Companies are tiptoeing to the Cloud, and Fern Helper’s presentation shows us the momentum building. We haven’t reached an inflection point, and I’d be surprised if we see one in the next 12-18 months, but it’s good to see TDWI keeping an eye on things and giving us sign posts on the way.

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