SaaS BI – Part I

BI/OLAP through History

The concepts of OLAP evolved through decades and by nineties it gain immense popularity over the corporate world. Ted Codd , who was the one established 12 rules for an OLAP product. This made some foundation for BI products and Microsoft then acquired a technology from Panorama Software and released their OLAP Services Product. That brought introduced the multidimensional analysis to business users and lead to the standardisation of querying multidimensional data (Early evolution of MDX). Microsoft expands its market share on BI products very fast. In due course Multi dimensional DW analysis became too complex and only large corporate could stick on investing for the maintenance because the demanding requirement of time and money.

The ‘Look and Feel’ trend: A large number of BI solution providers then emerged into the market with an offer of reduced TCO’s. But their strength was advanced visualisation and browsing features. These products proved that they were no longer providing an alternative for OLAP, instead providing some boxed features which are no longer supported well centralised data integration and high level data management capabilities.

Memory -supported BI: Mid market vendors then started depending on the strength in increasing RAM for better BI performance. Even Microsoft also recently accepted the then came up trend of in- memory application by launching their in-memory power pivot solution, which was clubbed with MS excel 2010.


Overview : SaaS BI or on-demand BI on cloud BI , the different names gives its definition too. Instead of the traditional on-premise BI, SaaS BI will be deployed out of the organisation’s firewall, catered reports and analysis through internet on demand. Vendors usually sells it on a subscription basis or pay-as-you-go basis instead of Licensing and annual maintenance model.

Here are some comparisons between SaaS BI Vs traditional on premise BI

SaaS BI On-premise BI
Deployed outside of the company Deployed in company premise
Installation, Operation and Maintenance are out of scope for the company Installation, Operation and Maintenance are company’s responsibility
Quick initialisation of the BI project Company has to prepare infrastructure, hardware, software and resource for the initialisation of the BI project
Upgrade the subscription plan as usage grows Capital Equipment purchase/replace is needed when a growth of usage comes
Little or no TOC(Total cost of ownership) Hardware , Software investments are huge
Data needs to send beyond firewall, may need to consider security aspects Comparatively easy to handle information security

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