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April 2016, Volume 4, Number 2

Business analytics in the cloud slowly gains elevation

Plenty of talk these days centers on the cloud and the many advantages it offers for data storage, management and analysis. Businesses are chomping at the bit to migrate almost everything to this nebulous phenomenon that can take the shape of public, private or hybrid. While the cloud market overall is growing rapidly, business analytics in the cloud is not a major part of the movement. Out of 12 technologies listed in a survey by TDWI, software-as–a-service tools and business intelligence (BI)/analytics in the cloud ranked at the bottom in importance to self-service BI initiatives. Data security, privacy, governance and the complexity and cost of migration are major roadblocks to acceptance of public cloud.

Companies nonetheless are devising and fulfilling ambitious plans for the cloud. First Tech Federal Credit Union is leaving the premises in hopes that doing BI and analytics in the cloud will lower IT costs and provide increased scalability and flexibility, write editors Ed Burns and Craig Stedman in the cover story of April's Business Information. PayPal meanwhile opted for a heavy private cloud approach. Even though its cloud infrastructure is strained by the demands of big data, the company's IT team has drastically reduced the time to implement computing resources from eight weeks to just one day.

A notable adjunct to cloud-based business analytics is a technology that harkens back to the early days of artificial intelligence and is now finding new life. Machine learning can accelerate data mining and predictive analytics for companies inundated with massive amounts of information, but the learning curve for users can be high, explains reporter Jack Vaughan in another feature. Analytics teams often have to reeducate themselves before working with machine learning tools.

Also featured in this issue are articles on Independent Oracle Users Group president Maria Anderson, IBM's Watson and the Hour of Code.

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