It seems like a truly endless list of elements to consider when shopping for the best Business Intelligence (BI) software to help you achieve dynamic analytics. However, as technology in general moves to the Cloud and/or web-based platforms, with BI tools following suit, one aspect has always stood out as a leading concern for consumer. This concern has relaxed over time, but security seems like a sensible question mark because we have traditionally worked with platforms that we can manage on-premises. And while security is still an issue with on-premises solutions, perhaps the tangibility and possession of the solution makes us feel more comfortable – or maybe it’s just the newness of Cloud computing and web-based technology. This article will approach the topic of security head on, specifically with a focus on Cloud and web-based BI solutions.
First, I want to explain the difference between Cloud computing, SaaS, and web products. Cloud computing refers to software that is hosted on a server by a third party. It can be housed off-site or on-premises, but a Cloud company is charged with maintaining the product, including hardware, software, updates, upgrades, etc. SaaS is an acronym for software as a service, which refers to the hosting that a third party Cloud company offers. More specifically, SaaS is a pricing structure that is a regular payment to the Cloud provider in exchange for hosting and managing the software. Traditional pricing involves buying software outright, with management and upkeep being the responsibility of the customer. Web-based software is browser-based in terms of accessing your software – or in BI terms, you are going to open a browser to access, manage, and analyze your company data. Web-based tools can be hosted on-premises by you and your company – or in the Cloud by a third party provider, with SaaS pricing. While Cloud and web-based software has become increasingly more popular, in general and in the BI sector, security has always been the leading question for the customer.
In terms of Cloud and web financial software, the number one issue for companies has arguably been data privacy related to security. However, this concern was the initial obstacle for Cloud providers to hurdle, and with time and proof of their power, there has been a growing confidence in the security that can occur on the Web. The software industry, while innovative, has proven itself to be consistently consumer-driven. And today, Cloud and web-based technologies are typically offering what you are seeking in terms of privacy and security, if not exceeding your expectations.
You should start by considering what security issues concern you with putting your financial, operational, and other data on the Web. Then, take this list and compare it to what Cloud providers offer consumers with their hosting services. If you just consider it from a logical business standpoint, Cloud vendors have a lot to prove, not only as an organization, but also an industry. Therefore, in order to stay in business – and to stay competitive, Cloud providers have had to invest a lot of money into making their Cloud services airtight in terms of security. Now, compare that to your own IT department. Can their budget for security match a whole company’s? Even the on-premises Web solution manufacturers have their corporate reputation to consider when bringing their product to market. In other words, you’re paying for someone else to be concerned with security of your data. Obviously, you want to be cautious, but it should also empower you, knowing that the weight of keeping your data secure is a service you are paying for – and another organization’s co-responsibility.
You’re probably wondering what kind of security measures are built into BI software. The best modern Cloud and web-based offerings allow you to configure access to company data, so you can restrict who in your organization has access to what information. In addition, real-time activity logs track access and interaction with data. With the sophistication of hackers today, networks are armed with firewalls and security scanning, specifically for infiltration and/or viruses. And leading Cloud accounting systems are great examples.
Intacct, a Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that Solver’s Web-based BI360 integrates with, has a whole page dedicated to their security. They outline the round-the-clock, year-round monitoring, with full data recovery a guarantee within 24 hours if you experience a major disaster. Their data centers are comprised of multiple fiber trunks, standby servers, redundant uninterruptable power supplies, and parallel generators. Built right into the application is tight control over which users have access – and to what content. 2-step user verifications, requisite password changes and automatic timeouts of sessions are all features to ensure absolute security. And BI solutions are mirroring these successful security measures in their own offerings.
Leading BI tools that are Cloud or Web-based platforms include Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics, and BI360, amongst others. Of these three, Adaptive Insights and Host Analytics are pure Cloud solutions. BI360 is a hybrid, Excel- and Web-based, delivering secure, browser-based access to analytics of your company data, but built with the familiarity of Excel formatting – and it can be hosted on-premises or by a SaaS provider. These BI software offerings allow you to configure security measures, regardless of whether the solution is hosted in the Cloud or on-premises. In other words, you can rest assured that, not only will your software manufacturer be responsible for the privacy of your data, but you are not expected to just relinquish control over the security of your information and analytics.
There is so much to weigh when searching for the right BI solution for your company’s specific needs. With technology racing toward the Cloud and/or the Web, the topic of security has definitely been – and should be – something to consider more seriously. However, with the advances in technology and the reputation of Cloud hosting wrapped up in security and data privacy, web offerings are typically more robust in the security features they provide than your IT department can even handle. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review their hybrid option, BI360, as easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, reporting, consolidations, budgeting and collaboration as a way to accelerate company performance management for Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, Intacct, and Acumatica ERPs, amongst others.