Business Intelligence in the Clouds

Cloud computing is high on hype but I think it’s going to cross the chasm. Cloud computing is IT infrastructure as a service. It is on-demand CPU, disk space and software that is virtual and scalable and available via the Internet. It opens the possibility of any software developer to have a web app available that can grow or shrink with demand. For example, a store front may need to grow by orders of magnitude over the Christmas holiday shopping season but need much less capacity in the following months. A cloud solution allows you to pay for what you use. This scalable infrastructure on demand seems to be a great architecture for a business intelligence solution except for two questions. Will it meet security requirements and will there be enough bandwidth to transfer data to the data repositories?


At Market Street Solutions we are researching the use of cloud computing resources in business intelligence and performance management. We are creating example architectures in Microsoft, IBM Cognos and QlikView. My project is to create a prototype Microsoft Business Intelligence server in the cloud. I will be using Microsoft SQL Server with Analysis Services and Reporting Services along with SharePoint and PerformancePoint on an Amazon EC2 instance.


I’m building a model BI server on Amazon’s Compute Cloud — EC2. The process involves creating key pairs, security groups, Elastic Block volumes, images, instances, AMI’s, S3 buckets and several other terms that that business intelligence professionals didn’t use on a daily basis, if ever. I think that this is going to shake the foundations of IT and the way we build systems.


2 thoughts on “Business Intelligence in the Clouds

  1. Marc Beacom

    Hello Will,

    Thanks for the post. I was looking for a follow up post with regards to you ventures with Amazon EC2 but didn’t find one. Just wondering how things turned out and your experiences with it.


    1. willthrash Post author

      Hi Marc,

      We were able to install and use the Amazon EC2 cloud for a Cognos reporting environment, a Microsoft reporting environment, and a hybrid environment with a SharePoint portal containing Cognos Web Parts. We had good performance in all cases.

      We stopped regular testing because the configurations that were used started to become cost prohibitive for testing and demonstrations. We did not test using ETL to load data from a non-cloud data source to a cloud data warehouse with increasing volumes. That is on my list for future experiments.

      Thanks for the question.




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