Thursday, December 4

Everything as a Service

The trend has been coming for some time, so I've decided to coin the term "Everything as a Service".  It started with SaaS (software as a service), which Salesforce made popular, and the "as a Service" has found it's way into many marketing tag lines.  Do a Google search just to see what turns up...
And you can quickly go from "as a Service" to cloud computing conversations these days.  It is turning into an elite club who use jargon to create this new technology industry.  I'm not slamming the concepts, just the proliferation of marketing "as a Service".   And I would say they all sell their "services" the same way.  We're cheaper than traditional.  We have the expertise, so you don't need it.  Just plug us in and leave anytime.

Marketing campaigns aside, of particular interest is Information as a Service (IaaS?).  DM Review explains IaaS as:

"Information as a Service, means you can deliver Business Intelligence snippets to a wide variety of applications and users, when they need it. Rather than 10 or 20 percent of your company's employees accessing your BI repositories, all of your employees can gain access to it — and not just through a query and reporting tool."

In my opinion, IaaS by this definition is one path BI should move towards.  Imagine a world where data is no longer viewed in tabular reports or analytical cubes.  A world where analysts and IT are not the keepers of information.  Analysts and IT need to play a part absolutely.  I'm saying it just needs to be easier to access for business people and relevant to one's job.

Yes, we still need the ability to ad hoc report and analyze data.  Because sometimes you just don't know exactly what you're looking for.  But for most people, you just need the simple answer.

So does IaaS only pertain to Business Intelligence?

According to IBM, IaaS is about SOA.  Another collision between traditional BI from DM Review and SOA thinkers like IBM.  I would tend to agree with SOA as being IaaS enabled.  There just isn't much out there about requesting data from your BI system as a service.  You consume BI through desktop or web reporting tools.  That's it.  So IBM may be more correct.

However we do have SaaS BI.  Here BI can fit within the software space and be hosted on the web, where BI is a service, of sorts.  Not the greatest option in my opinion.  How long will it take before acquires a SaaS BI vendor and makes them simply a reporting tool for Salesforce CRM?  Don't you think it's easy to think of SaaS BI as an attachment to applications, like SAP, Oracle Financials, and such?  In fact, that is what happened with the on-premise space with Cognos, BO, and Hyperion.  Soon these BI toolsets will cease to be open BI platforms.  Once IBM, SAP and Oracle make them more proprietary, the choices will be narrowed.

Now back to my "Everything as a Service".

Do you think we are going there?  Where everything we want - software, information, SQL, cloud computing - can be purchased for a monthly fee and plugged in when needed?  I see the giants, like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Sun, etc using their merger & acquisition engines to be that one stop shop for web computing, similar to what IBM, Oracle, and SAP did with the on-premise BI vendors.

Where BI fits into this picture is still unwritten.  How much of a player BI will be, well that may already be written based on the recent on-premise acquisitions.  So we can only wait and see how it plays out in the web, cloud, "as a Service" world for BI.


alberto said...

Information as a service really means operational dashboards instead of strategic dashboards. In other words, you need the information, metrics, analytics, and visualization to help every worker do his or her job. See Analytics In A Global Recession: Fixed Price Operational Dashboard at

Tom Hudock said...

Alberto, I agree many people within a company could use information to help them make better decisions. Here's a post that shares how large companies, like Chevron, Starbucks, and Boeing, push out relevant slices of data to their front-line staff.

Interestingly, these companies aren't using dashboards or reporting tools for front line staff. They actually embed the data within their applications and internal website pages. Although they have the IT people to support this approach.


Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?