Software as a Service BI (SaaS BI)

Software as a Service business intelligence (SaaS BI) is a delivery model for business intelligence in which applications are typically deployed outside of a company’s firewall at a hosted location and accessed by an end user with a secure Internet connection. Also known as on-demand BI or cloud BI, the technology is sold by vendors on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis instead of the more traditional software licensing model with annual maintenance fees.

SaaS BI lets companies use BI tools without having to install, operate and maintain them on-premise, freeing customers to concentrate on creating BI reports and analytic queries. Organizations can potentially start using SaaS BI technology more quickly than waiting for the installation of on-premise software, and the SaaS approach enables them to expand their BI systems as usage grows without having to make any capital-equipment purchases.

SaaS BI can be a good choice when there’s little or no budget money available for buying BI software and related hardware. Because there aren't any upfront purchase costs or additional staffing requirements needed to manage the BI system, total cost of ownership (TCO) may be lower than it is with on-premise software – although overall SaaS BI costs will depend on the amount of usage the tools get.

Many companies already are familiar with the concept of software as a service (SaaS). There are special issues to consider, though, with SaaS BI. For example, the analysis tools may not have all the features that on-premise software products do – which may make them less complex and difficult to use, but also less functional. Sending corporate data beyond the firewall also raises red flags for some IT managers. To try to assuage those concerns, some vendors have created private analytic clouds that run inside a customer’s firewall.

See also: private cloud

Learn more:

BI SaaS: Getting a fix on your business in a tight economy
Affordable BI SaaS solutions are swaying enterprises and midmarket companies to try the cloud.

As SAP Business Objects pushes SaaS BI, will more customers bite?
Learn more about SAP Business Objects SaaS BI products and whether more companies will adopt the on-demand model in this recession.

This was last updated in March 2011

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