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Summary:

Business Intelligence is a multibillion-dollar market made up of enormous software projects from the likes if various IT giants — think high barriers to entry, long enterprise sales cycles and expensive software licensing. But several cloud-based solutions are in the process of disrupting that market.

Business Intelligence is a multibillion-dollar market made up of enormous software projects from the likes of IBM/Cognos, SAP/Business Objects and Oracle/Hyperion — think high barriers to entry, long enterprise sales cycles and expensive software licensing. The recent $5.8 billion SAP/Sybase acquisition is just the latest evidence of the high stakes involved. But several cloud-based solutions are in the process of disrupting that market by, for example, making sophisticated BI accessible to general business users via monthly plans, and using web features to easily publish and share information company-wide.

GoodData, whose on-demand model allows users to get started in minutes, provides integrated solutions to salesforce.com and NetSuite, among others. One recent customer case study from Gazelle, a buyer and reseller of used electronics, highlighted how it was able to configure data from a range of sources — from Google Analytics and Adwords to internal operations software to e-commerce partners — using GoodData APIs and no additional middleware.

Another player in the on-demand intelligence game is Indicee, which aims to lift burdened spreadsheet jockeys out of their misery with an elegant cloud-based approach. You can quickly load data from a variety of sources and then run BI reports, propagating them throughout the organization. The team that started Indicee also founded Crystal Reports, a popular reporting tool now owned by SAP.

Loggly, on the other hand, is targeting system administrators, application developers and data analysts. It’s true that for heavily trafficked websites, logging can be a pain. First the logs need to be collected across thousands of web servers, the stored, then often migrated to another cluster for analytics processing, then stored again. And this on top of trying to keep the main application running! Loggly (see disclosure below) removes many of those steps with its cloud-based log management service, which not only stores the log data but performs advanced analytics, making what in the past might have taken a team of developers many weeks or months to assemble possible in just a few clicks.

And finally there is Datameer, which is trying to combine the simplicity of a spreadsheet interface with the back-end scale of Apache Hadoop. While Hadoop has long been promoted as being faster, more scalable and less expensive than traditional solutions, its adoption has been constrained to savvy developers. Datameer’s solution, which is available on-premise or in the cloud, aims to put the power and scale of Hadoop into the hands of more users by requiring little analytical know-how beyond the spreadsheet-like logic we all understand.

The cloud will not transform the business intelligence market overnight. But it’s ripe for a makeover and as the solutions offered by these four companies make clear, the cloud has made access to sophisticated tools easier than ever before. To learn more, join the GigaOM network at its annual conference devoted to cloud computing, Structure, June 23 & 24 in San Francisco.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Big Data Marketplaces Put a Price on Finding Patterns

Gary Orenstein is host of The Cloud Computing Show.

Disclosure: Loggly is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

By Gary Orenstein

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  1. You really ought to include what Microsoft are doing and have been doing in the space for the past decade. BI isn’t always “think high barriers to entry, long enterprise sales cycles and expensive software licensing”.

    Look at the latest SQL 2008 R2 release and the powerpivot add in for Excel.

    I do agree – we live in exciting times.

    Tony

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    1. Gary Orenstein Sunday, May 16, 2010

      Thanks Tony. I’ll keep an eye on the Microsoft activities.

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  2. Don’t forget BI veteran Information Builders that partners with Amazon for cloud BI services. Gartner ranks IB as one of the BI leaders along with those mega-vendors you listed above. Their enterprise BI product WebFOCUS is server-based and ready for the cloud.

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  3. Gary,

    Another angle is providing the infrastructure to do business intelligence and data warehousing with open source BI vendors in the cloud. Jaspersoft recently won the BI infrastructure in the cloud codie award for the platform – http://bit.ly/d6gcNv

    The stack can be found at – http://www.full360.com/cloud

    Cheers
    Rohit

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  4. Nice article, but I’m not sure I’d use “sophisticated” to describe the SaaS BI vendors in this list. The ones you listed allow people to get started quickly and offer a compelling economic advantage to traditional BI. But they’re only sophisticated relative to spreadsheets.

    When I think “sophisticated” BI, I think about integrating data from enterprise systems like SAP and Oracle (typically from multiple applications), I think of rolling solutions out on a large scale to lots of users in different countries, etc.

    For requirements like those, I’d suggest looking at SaaS BI solutions like Oco (www.oco-inc.com) and Birst (www.birst.com) that tackle much more sophisticated BI challenges. These vendors distinguish themselves as “enterprise-class SaaS BI.” IMHO the distinction makes sense, and I think it’s great that there are a range of SaaS BI options for handling different BI project scopes quickly and economically.

    Thanks again for the post.

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  5. Nice article, but I’m not sure I’d use “sophisticated” to describe the SaaS BI vendors in this list. The ones you listed allow people to get started quickly and offer a compelling economic advantage to traditional BI. But they’re only sophisticated relative to spreadsheets.

    When I think “sophisticated” BI, I think about integrating data from enterprise systems like SAP and Oracle (typically from multiple applications), I think of rolling solutions out on a large scale to lots of users in different countries, etc.

    For requirements like those, I’d suggest looking at SaaS BI solutions like Oco (http://www.oco-inc.com) and Birst (http://www.birst.com) that tackle much more sophisticated BI challenges. These vendors distinguish themselves as “enterprise-class SaaS BI.” IMHO the distinction makes sense, and I think it’s great that there are a range of SaaS BI options for handling different BI project scopes quickly and economically.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Share
    1. Andy,

      I am the founder and CEO of GoodData and I would like to invite you to watch GoodData customer testimonials here: http://www.gooddata.com/about/good-data-tv/customer-testimonials/
      Our users tackle very sophisticated enterprise-class BI challenges at a fraction of the cost of on-premise BI solution or single-tenant hosted BI solutions such as Oco or Birst…

      -Roman

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      1. Birst is a multi-tenant solution and always has been. It is for this reason that we have the most SaaS BI customers out of all current vendors. We are trusted by Citrix, RBC Wealth Management, and one of the largest regional YMCA’s in the United States, among others.

        For our featured customers and to read more: http://www.birst.com/stories/index.shtml

        Birst also offers a full, end-to-end BI solution – enterprise class functionality for an SMB price. This is unlike our competition, who can only handle limited BI situations.

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  6. And, it doesn’t take a great imagination to guess where Karmasphere will go given their recent funding!

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  7. (Disclaimer, I am the founder of Lokad) Cloud Computing also bring something entirely new to BI market: the possibility to deliver razor sharp products instead of loosely focused super-expensive suites. For example, Lokad delivers online statistical forecasts. We believe to have the best forecasts of the market, but we only do forecasts: no reporting, no data visualization, no scenario simulation, … Before the cloud, it was not possible to have such narrow approaches, as a BI vendor, you had to have a broad feature spectrum.

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  8. Gary, thanks for your post and thanks for using GoodData as an example. You are right that the market is being disrupted. BI was traditionally in the realm of IT and that is now changing. What is your opinion on readiness of purely business users for this change? Do you see business users adopting the new SaaS BI tools?

    What about other fellow readers here, what do you think?

    Thanks,
    Hubert

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  9. Alison Benson Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Good article, and I agree there’s a lot of sizzle. But I’m surprised it’s missing a mention of SAP’s BI OnDemand

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  10. Another company for your consideration is Birst (www.birst.com), which offers full-featured BI on-demand. Birst has leading customers like Citrix, RBC Wealth Management,the YMCA, and Securian – proving that SaaS BI is for the enterprise, too, not just for midsize and smaller companies.

    Birst also won the prestigious TDWI Best Practices Award in 2009, demonstrating that its solutions deliver real results.

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