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On Premise or in the Cloud: How Best-in-Class Deploy their Business Intelligence Applications
Dick Csaplar
MAR 28, 2013 08:00 AM
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There is a continuing revolution in how IT deploys enterprise applications; today there are many platform options on which to deploy applications, including physical servers, virtualized servers and multiple versions of the Cloud. In January 2013 Aberdeen surveyed the IT community to learn how they are deploying their enterprise applications. Best-in-Class organizations have made a sizable move to the Public Cloud. This blog provides an overview of the results of how the Best-in-Class deploy their Business Intelligence (BI) applications from the recent research report — "On-Premise or in the Cloud: How Best-in-Class Deploy Business Intelligence Applications".

Deployment Options

Prior to server virtualization there was only a single way an IT organization could deploy an application — run it on a physical server. Today IT managers have varied platforms to host their software. The options include:

On Premise: in the datacenter and behind the firewall of the enterprise

  • Physical Server — on a server with no virtualization software
  • Virtualized Server &38212; on a server with virtualization software

Cloud-based: outsourced to a third party provider

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) — application rented to users
  • Hosted (IaaS / PaaS) — application deployed on third party owned infrastructure

Hybrid — parts of application deployed on-premise and part in the Public Cloud.

Best-in-Class BI Deployment Choices

In the January 2013 Usage of Public Cloud survey, Aberdeen asked respondents (126 enterprises) to tell us how they deployed their enterprise applications. Sixty-two (62) companies reported having BI applications. Also included in the survey was a series of metrics questions about their IT experience, the growth or reduction of their IT budget, the amount of application downtime they experience and the length of time it takes to deploy a new application. From those responses, the top 20% of organizations, a group we call the Best-in-Class were selected for getting the most from their IT investments. It is this high-performing subset of respondents that we compare to the rest to see how they are deploying their BI applications.

Forty-five percent (45%) of the Best-in-Class chose the SaaS deployment model for their BI system (Figure 1), a full 80% higher than the next most common deployment type &38212; an In-House Physical server. This is in stark contrast to All Other respondents, which chose In-House Physical deployments at a 58% rate.

Figure 1: BI Application Deployment Choices

Bar graph of BI Application Deployment Choices

Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2013

Best-in-Class BI Deployment Choices

The Best-in-Class choices include the following trade-offs:

  • On Premise: Physical versus Virtualized Platform — The Best-in-Class have almost one half of their in-house BI application deployments on virtualized servers (25% versus 19%), but All Other respondents have the vast majority of their BI applications on just physical servers (58% versus 13%). Virtualization brings many benefits to almost any application, including server consolidation, faster application deployment, and disaster recovery. All applications, even the largest ones, can gain from using virtualization's advanced features.
  • On Premise versus the Public Cloud — Fifty-six percent (56%) of Best-in-Class BI applications are deployed in the Cloud versus just 29% for All Other respondents. The use of the Public Cloud to host their BI application is making in-roads into companies of all sizes. The Best-in-Class gain the Cloud advantages of reduced cost, easier application management, and higher availability that are features of applications in the Public Cloud.
  • Cloud: SaaS versus Hybrid or Hosted — Forty-five percent (45%) of all Best-in-Class BI applications are used as a SaaS application versus just 7% of All Other respondents. SaaS deployment brings many benefits to the enterprise IT organization, including ease of deployment, not having to pay for the supporting computing devices, and professional software support. SaaS is easy to deploy with little involvement of internal IT required except to ensure access to the internet. Hybrid or hosted solutions, on the other hand, are more complex with specific IT skills required for implementation. Therefore it is no surprise to see only a small number of responding companies with their BI applications in a Hybrid or Hosted environment. Aberdeen expects to see these numbers increase, however, as internal IT organizations gain the skills needed to deploy enterprise applications using these technologies.

Key Takeaways: Best-in-Class Moving to the Cloud

Best-in-Class organizations are clearly moving their BI application deployment choices in several directions:

  • More Best-in-Class companies have chosen to deploy their BI application in the Public Cloud. Most BI software vendors offer cloud-based deployment options. These greatly reduce a company's Capital Expenses as they do not have to provide servers, storage, or other computing devices to support their BI application.
  • The Best-in-Class most likely use SaaS for their BI implementation. SaaS offers the fastest time to value in terms of getting a new BI application available to corporate users. SaaS also offers the flexibility of expense management, as new users can be added only as they have a need and SaaS charges are paid from the operating budget, with no impact on capital expenses.
  • For those that have chosen to keep their BI applications in-house, more Best-in-Class have chosen to deploy on virtualized servers. Virtualization offers many advantages, such as application mobility, automatic resource allocations to cover times of peak demand, and workload balancing. Companies that have their BI application on a physical server are encouraged to look at the benefits they could gain from server virtualization.

While deploying enterprise applications on a physical server was the only choice several years ago, today there are more options to meet the exact needs of an organization. Examine the deployment platform choices and choose the one that maximizes the goals of the company.

Dick Csaplar
Senior Research Analyst, Virtualization and the Cloud
IT Infrastructure Group
Aberdeen Group

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