10 Cloud Analytics & BI Platforms For Business - InformationWeek
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Doug Henschen
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10 Cloud Analytics & BI Platforms For Business

With apps and data headed into the cloud, analytics and business intelligence can't be far behind. Here are 10 options, ranging from simple data-visualization tools to complete cloud suites.
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Cloud-based business intelligence arrived soon after the first wave of cloud applications, but several early pioneers -- LucidEra, Oco, PivotLink -- didn't survive. Fears about putting data in the cloud were among the early impediments to success. Now that mission-critical apps and sensitive corporate data are increasingly moving online, it makes sense that cloud-based analytics and BI platforms are gaining customers.

What's the evidence that data is moving into the cloud along with applications? Our InformationWeek 2015 Analytics, BI, and Information Management Survey, for example, finds that cloud-based data warehousing services show the biggest gains in adoption of any information management category, jumping to 34% adoption among respondents, up from just 24% in 2014.

According to "Analytics in the Cloud," a January 2015 report by Enterprise Management Associates, adopters cite time-to-delivery of analytics and BI as primary business motivation for choosing cloud options. Time to value for analytical initiatives and improved agility stand out as the most important technical drivers. Finally, the top three financial drivers behind the move to cloud-based analytics and BI platforms are minimized hardware and infrastructure cost, reduced implementation cost, and reduced administrative cost, in that order.

The options covered in this collection range from complete data warehousing and BI suites in the cloud, like Birst, GoodData, and MicroStrategy, to far simpler data exploration and data visualization options, like SAP Lumira Cloud and Tibco Spotfire Cloud. In between there's IBM Watson Analytics and Microsoft Power BI. You'll also find options favored in big-data circles, such as Bime and Tableau Software, and one option favored in financial circles, Adaptive Insight.

What you won't find in this collection are application-specific platforms like Salesforce Wave and add-ons thereto, like C9. Also excluded were planning- and finance-oriented corporate performance management apps, like Anaplan, Host Analytics, and Tidemark. Advanced analytics products are also absent, although Watson Analytics and Tibco Spotfire Cloud are among the options here that do offer some of those bells and whistles.

Pricing of these services ranges from free -- generally with storage caps and data-source limitations -- to $2,000 per year for a five-user workgroup edition, to hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars for a full-BI-stack deployment with terabyte-scale data warehouses managed in the cloud. Most of these vendors can also help you with on-premises and hybrid deployments, though Adaptive Planning and Bime are the cloud purists here.

Read on for a closer look at data access options, analysis features, and, in many cases, edition and pricing details.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2015 | 12:08:51 AM
Re: Bait & Switch?
Per today's earnings call, Tableau's CEO said "We launched Tableau Public with the vision of creating an online community for people to share and explore data. We now have more than 80,000 authors creating 4,800 visualizations every week."

I think it would be a stretch to call Tableau Public a "bait and switch" :)
Barry Parr
Barry Parr,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/26/2015 | 4:44:07 PM
Don't forget Chartio
Cloud BI is a competitive market, but you should include Chartio a pure-cloud business intelligence tool with a number distinct advantages.  We offer the fastest time to value in the business, simpler and more predictable setup, and a product designed to make business users productive right away.  We also don't treat support as a profit center, so your ongoing costs are going to be a lot more predictable.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/26/2015 | 1:48:58 PM
Re: Bait & Switch?
Why no mention of Qlik Cloud?
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2015 | 6:01:24 PM
Bait & Switch?
I get the distinct feeling with a few of these cloud offerings that they're designed to gather leads of would-be customers who can be pitched on more expensive software and services. The Tableau Public site, for example, is loaded with demos and visualization examples that date from the 2011 launch. Is it just there as a PR checkpoint and lure to buy the real software? Does IBM Watson Analytics really have a self-sustaining business model? I could well imagine software sales teams combing over the names, titles, etc. from the more than 20,000 people who have registered for that "freemium" service. And if you look at the demos and collateral matrial around SAP Lumira Cloud, it doesn't look like a lot of money and marketing muscle was invested there. Finally, Microstrategy Cloud is a managed service; it's a different packaging of the same old software.

This is just my impression, but Adaptive Insights, Bime, Birst, GoodData, Microsoft Power BI, and Tibco Spotfire Cloud seem like services that are supported, marketed and priced to stand on their own as going businesses in the cloud. As for the free services, you get what you pay for.

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