Understanding IBM Cloud Offerings
In January I reported that Triangle were busily reviewing the IBM offerings around the Cloud with a particular focus on dashDB and Bluemix and how these offerings from IBM could be used in conjunction with IBM Cognos software products. Our consultants have been busy and we have built several models that include a mix of dashDB and Bluemix modules allowing us to populate databases in the cloud. We have selected data from Cloud sources and from on premise databases using a variety of ETL tools to push and pull data in and out of the cloud.
Our conclusion to date is that dashDB is a stable product built on a mature software platform and high quality infrastructure. It is ready now and in our opinion is fit for purpose. Whether you wish to upload all your company data into the cloud, updating it daily from your line of business systems held on premise, or simply create your data warehouse in the cloud, then the dashDB allows you to do this. You can also use a number of the built in Bluemix functions to augment your existing data with a variety of cloud based data sources, like social media feeds and weather data bringing new insights to your Company data.
BI In the Cloud
So what about running BI in the cloud? Well we have proved that works as well. IBM offer several options to support various scenarios from a BI start up to a fully-fledged enterprise solution and because the servers are “Bare Metal” the environment created can be flexible and provides very good performance.
Triangle has been working hard to understand the commercial model asking all those questions of IBM that we know we’ll be asked when we talk to our customers. So how does the commercial model stack up? To be truthful we still have some further work to do on this. As you may imagine the commercial model is quite complex. Yes we can see the costs for a terabyte of data storage when you sign up to one of the IBM packages, however it’s more difficult to get a handle on exactly how much data that really is. So why is that? Well the dashDB solution comes with highly advanced features that hold the data in a compressed form thus saving physical space, so working out a like for like comparison say between data held on premise or even that in say an Amazon Cloud is like comparing Apples with Pears. Suffice to say there are a number of figures being quoted by IBM from use cases that demonstrate a very high data compression ratio being achieved.
The BI environments is equally difficult. IBM provides high performance servers to support its offerings but if you were to do a simple comparison of your on premise software costs to that being quoted for IBM’s SaaS solution then SaaS looks very expensive. However you need to take account of a myriad of other factors before coming to a conclusion. These include the cost of the on premise servers, the server rooms, the air conditioning, the electricity not to mention the disaster recovery costs and the cost of the people to run the servers on a day to day basis. All these costs and more are included in the SaaS solution. So as you can see it’s not easy to come to a clear cut conclusion as to which way to jump.
Having said that nearly every customer meeting we go to we hear there is an interest in the cloud. It’s being driven by customers trying to find a way to cut costs whilst simultaneously improving performance from their IT and line of business systems. Of course there are easy low hanging targets to attack first, such as cloud based email, cloud based accounting systems, Office of Finance planning solutions, CRM systems and such like. More and more of these systems are being offered as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Systems will follow suit. However the time has to be right and the solution chosen has to be both cost effective and offer new opportunities to the business. That’s the dilemma, jump or not. We’re certainly on the cusp of that decision being made, but software vendors like IBM have to make it attractive so it becomes a “No Brainer”. I think we still have a way to go yet, but its getting closer.
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