Analytics are an increasingly important tool for business.
Mining data and using analytic tools to derive business insights have become key components of the decision making process, and companies like Google and Microsoft use them to define products and plan future developments. With users driving the demand for more and more information, BI has a distinct place in modern business architectures.
As BI's role and importance grows, you're going to need to consider how your BI strategy will evolve over the next few years. Things are changing in the datacentre, with a shift from on-premises to cloud-hosted operations — and the resulting change in how we think about, and how we manage security. User needs are changing too, with more and more demand for mobile access to information and services.
With the shift from on-premises datacentres to using cloud services, there's a need to change from server-centric to information-centric security models. Often referred to as "re-perimiterisation", it's an approach that ring-fences your data and information, rather than trying to protect entire networks.
With the shift from on-premises datacentres to using cloud services, there's a need to change from server-centric to information-centric security models.
With information-centric security there's no need for expensive (and often slow) data-loss prevention systems, as use of role-based security at a record level means that data can be controlled and audited effectively.
Modern BI tools and services can take advantage of this deeply integrated security model to control just how users have access to raw data, and how the resulting information and reports are distributed.
The same approach can also help you manage working with distributed data sources across a heterogeneous computing environment — an approach that is likely to help in any transition from on-premises to cloud-hosted BI.
BI needs data, the more the better.
Much of the information you'll need to get the most from your data is in external sources and needs to be imported into your systems. You can use the demographic data in tools like Microsoft MapPoint as part of your analytics framework.
Much of the information you'll need is in external sources and needs to be imported into your systems.
New open protocols like OData mean it's easier to bring in external data, and you'll be able to work with large-scale third-party information sources like those provided by the Azure DataMarket. The arrival of services like this gives you access to a mix of commercial and government data that can be used to add value to your business analytics.
Adding Dun and Bradstreet data to a sales BI application will give users additional insight, while the European Environment Agency's Carbon Emission data could add benchmarking features to a corporate sustainability report.
Integrating cloud services
Integrating cloud services like those provided by Azure DataMarket is going to be increasingly important, and needs to be considered carefully when implementing your BI security model. One option is to use federated identity services to ensure user identities and roles are shared with information partners, maintaining an audit trail even across application boundaries.
Integrating cloud services like those provided by Azure DataMarket is going to be increasingly important.
This approach also means that you'll be able to ensure that security contexts can be maintained and managed between desktop, datacentre and cloud provider — something you'll need to stay in compliance with business regulations. Securing your information this way also simplifies moving BI services from your datacentre to cloud services like Azure, without worrying about changes in security models.
Cloud-hosted BI will also allow your users to...