Hybrid Cloud for Business Intelligence: Removing Barriers, Overcoming Resistance

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This article discusses the benefits of hybrid cloud deployments for your Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management systems.
In today’s business culture, cloud computing is common for enterprises and organizations, no matter the size. It was not always like this, as the technology seemed lofty, new, and unsecure. However, over time, the technological advances, the accessibility of company data from anywhere with an internet connection, and the scalability of cloud computing has reduced costs and made this business culture technology evolution a relevant consideration for all companies. And Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions have followed the move to cloud deployments, so if you’re involved with data management, analysis, or decision-making at your company, you might be wondering how to proceed – if you haven’t already made the leap. This article will zoom in on the benefit of implementing a hybrid cloud approach as a way to take your BI and CPM processes to the next level.

First of all, how is “hybrid cloud” defined? A hybrid cloud connects a public cloud, by providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure, with a private cloud platform, which is designed for a specific organization’s use only. Both cloud infrastructures, public and private, which operate separately from each other, communicate back and forth over an encrypted connection, utilizing technology that provides a portable experience for your data and applications. For example, a company can deploy an on-premises or hosted private cloud for BI and CPM processes involving data that might be more critical or sensitive, but rely on a third-party public cloud provider, like Microsoft Azure, to host all other workloads. However, connecting the two requires additional technology infrastructure investment.
Even with the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud as an extension of private cloud and on-premises BI and CPM solutions, the combination of the two to form a hybrid requires some technological infrastructure – and investments of time, money, and energy related to this connection.  Private cloud platforms must connect and interact with public cloud providers, so your hybrid cloud requires application programming interface (API) compatibility for integrations and unshakable network connectivity.  To clarify, an API is a set of sequences, procedures, and tools for software application production. Furthermore, an API dictates how software components should interact.  And then, there are potential issues related to the public cloud part of the hybrid.
Public cloud offerings have historically been met with some amount of skepticism in terms of security, mostly diminishing as time has gone on, and the technology has improved, as well as brand name recognition.  With a public cloud, there is the potential for connectivity issues, service level agreement (SLA) breaches, and other public cloud service disruptions.  Recently, Amazon’s cloud offering had an outage that had a noticeable effect across the internet.  To ease these risks, organizations can design hybrid workloads that work with multiple public cloud providers. That said, this can make the workload architecture design work and testing more complicated.  Sometimes, you might have to redesign a workload and/or workflow slated for hybrid cloud because of the specific providers’ APIs. But how does it all work, in terms of regular workflow and processes?
If you already have an established private cloud or would like to go with a hybrid cloud approach from the onset, you will likely rely on a public cloud provider for at least any computing demand spikes.  In other words, you might keep specific processes or data in your private cloud because they contain more sensitive material or are more critical tasks, then use cloud bursting, which is an application deployment process in which a software runs in a private cloud and bursts into the public cloud when computing capacity demands spike. While public clouds have graduated from the early years of security skepticism, some are still concerned about their financial data going through the internet with support from a third party that is managing the public cloud.  For example, with Google’s reign as the leading search engine, I can understand why some might be concerned about any private organizational information going into their cloud.  That said, this is the consumer-driven era, so I’m confident that we have enough checks and balances in place to trust public cloud providers – and their benefits are noteworthy.
With a public cloud, like Microsoft Azure, you get a customizable, instantly upgraded and updated, managed platform, so the software is always current and supported by a team that is specifically focused on managing the cloud.  Another advantage not just of a public cloud, but of the hybrid cloud model is that you only pay for what you use of the space, the application, and the extra computing resources.  Therefore, a public cloud gives you the extra power, space, and management resources that modern companies are starting to reach for with the amount of data and processes that we’re relying on to make smarter decisions faster for the sake of remaining competitive.  As the business culture continues to grow data in size and significance, a hybrid cloud approach is inclusive of your current on-premises systems and their importance to your specific processes, while also adding the value of the public cloud.
Maybe the concept of cloud computing in general is overwhelming to you or maybe it seems simple enough, but just seems like too much of a rollout at this point.  Either way, the hybrid cloud route might be exactly the compromise because you’re needing to be able to keep your on-premises solutions and make room for growth and more power with a connected public cloud platform.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based budgeting and reporting solution that enables collaboration, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI experience.

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