Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Top Three Similarities and Differences When Budgeting, Forecasting and Planning in “The Cloud” Versus Using Traditional On Premise Planning Software

September 23, 2015

Author: Kirby Lunger, Performance Architects

The business software market is quickly moving to the “Cloud” (really to Software-as-a-Service or SaaS, which means as this source points out, “Software that is deployed over the internet…with SaaS, a provider licenses an application to customers either as a service on demand, through a subscription, in a “pay-as-you-go” model, or (increasingly) at no charge when there is opportunity to generate revenue from streams other than the user, such as from advertisement or user list sales”).

The budgeting, forecasting and planning software arena is no exception, and the Performance Architects team has had plenty of experience helping transition organizations to SaaS or cloud planning solutions. I wanted to share the top three similarities and differences we’ve witnessed when organizations start to forecast, budget, and plan in the cloud.

When we first start exploring this topic with people, many assume that because this is a service, they can just “flick a switch” and move to a new system. The move to a new budgeting and forecasting process isn’t trivial, however. This is a major, generally enterprise-wide process, with a lot of personalities and moving parts involved, and it is very important to help people adjust.

The top three similarities to a “traditional” planning software deployment, therefore, all have to do with the people and process implications of a shift to a new way of doing business:

  1. This is still a big cultural shift to a new process
  2. You still need to allocate reasonable requirements and design time
  3. You still need a partner to help!

In terms of the differences in an “on premise” versus cloud planning implementation, they’re really more technical in nature, because these systems are simply deployed differently on premise versus in a SaaS environment. That said, if you ignore these three differences, you will have a very difficult time with your budgeting and forecasting implementation. The three top differences include:

  1. Security (mostly) lives outside “your four walls”
  2. Data sourcing, integration and storage will work differently
  3. “Customization” isn’t the same as on-premise

If you’re interested in learning more about these similarities and differences, we encourage you to visit the Performance Architects Learning Center (a free community and forum where we post all of our content) to access the recording and slides for our recent webinar where we cover these topics in detail, “How to Start Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting in the Cloud: Case Studies and Lessons Learned.”

We welcome questions and comments either in the forms below the blog entry, or email us directly at communications@performancearchitects.com to schedule a more detailed conversation.


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Avoid Pitfalls in Data Management and Integration (ETL / ELT) in the Cloud

September 17, 2015

Author: Kirby Lunger, Performance Architects

One of the biggest differences between cloud-based and on premise enterprise software deployments is how data is integrated and stored, although this remains a mystery to many of us as this cartoon demonstrates:

KL Blog 1Source: http://cloudtweaks.com

In the on premise software world, the data management and integration market is fairly mature and well-defined. Technology research firm Gartner defines this market as, “the practices, architectural techniques and tools for achieving consistent access to and delivery of data across the spectrum of data subject areas and data structure types in the enterprise, to meet the data consumption requirements of all applications and business processes.” This area is also referred to as “Extract, Transform and Load” or “Extract, Load and Transform” software (ETL or ELT; Performance Architects published a blog entry on the differences between the two terms here).

Gartner issues an annual “magic quadrant” for different software categories, including data management and integration. The 2015 magic quadrant demonstrates the key players haven’t changed in years:

KL Blog 2Source: www.gartner.com

Over the last couple of years, business software has started to move – quickly – to the cloud (if you’re wondering what “The Cloud” is, visit this Performance Architects blog entry). As a result of this shift to software offered as a service, data management and integration has naturally had to evolve because the data in your solutions now lives outside your company’s four walls and the process simply needs to be handled differently.

As a result, a whole new class of solutions that Gartner calls “Integration Platform as a Service” (or iPaaS) has sprung up to address these differences. The category is defined here as, “a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations.”

Interestingly, some of the market leaders are the same as in the traditional data management and integration market…but there are many new software vendors vying for leadership in this arena:

KL Blog 3Source: www.gartner.com

So what does this mean for your cloud implementation? You need to make sure you understand what your cloud or “Software-as-a-Service” vendor is using for their data management and integration capabilities to avoid implementation pitfalls; there are several models for SaaS vendor offerings here, including:

• Provides application programming interfaces (APIs) or connectors to traditional data management and integration and/or iPaaS solutions. If this is the focus, make sure that the SaaS data integration options integrate well with your current ETL solution and that you understand how their product passes off data if there are one or more data integration solutions embedded in their product.

• “White labels” iPaaS solutions into their products. This means that the SaaS provider is licensing the iPaaS solution and is integrating it as part of their environment. In this case, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with the financial viability and functionality of the iPaaS provider they’ve selected and that you also have the conversation about how this works with your current ETL process.

• Uses flat files instead of a data management and integration or iPaaS solution. The majority of SaaS vendors are still in this camp, because the field is changing so rapidly. This isn’t optimal, but it works! Make sure you understand how to securely transfer data using these files into and out of their system, and if and how you can automate data import and export so that you’re not stuck executing data integration manual processes behind the scenes.

If you’re interested in learning more about how data management and integration works with cloud applications, we encourage you to sign up for our upcoming webinar, “How to Successfully Implement Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS),” which includes a discussion of data integration techniques for this and related BI solutions.

We welcome questions and comments either in the forms below the blog entry, or email us directly at communications@performancearchitects.com to schedule a more detailed conversation.


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Should I Care About “The Cloud?” And What Does “The Cloud” Actually Mean?!?

September 3, 2015

Author: Kirby Lunger, Performance Architects

We’ve all had that moment…the one where you’re sitting at lunch, in a meeting, or in the sunshine with friends and someone casually mentions, “My <insert here> [music/photos/software/banking account] are stored in the cloud”…and you end up daydreaming about angels up in the clouds reviewing everyone’s information! You’re then left wondering, “What is ‘The Cloud’…and why should I care?!”

KL1Source: http://cloudtweaks.com

PCMag.com offers a great definition, along with an explanation of how the silly ‘cloud’ imagery developed over the years in this article, “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of over your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulonimbus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”

So how does this impact you? As AccountingWeb.com mentions in this article, “In the early days of computers, users rented time on a mainframe computer. A few decades later, we all became accustomed to having our own personal computers on our desk, upon which we installed shrink-wrapped software. We became responsible for upgrading our computers, software, and backing up our data. As often happens in life, though, things are going full circle where we’re returning to the days of renting time on someone else’s computer.”

In terms of your day-to-day life, this means devices like your smart phone or tablet allow you to access huge amounts of information stored on someone else’s computers (called “servers”) via an advertising and/or subscription model. You no longer have to have local storage on your device to keep everything close at hand! As with anything positive, there are also possible negatives in this situation and a few of the big potential downsides include:

  • Security. You’re trusting someone else with your data, outside of your own protected environment. Mistakes can and do happen (the recent Ashley Madison hack is a frightening example of what can happen with personal data stored on the Internet!).
  • Data access. A business could decide to stop offering the service…or you could close your account…and you may lose access to important data and information.

This big shift to ‘The Cloud’ also impacts your work life, in much the same way, although the terminology can get a little confusing here too. You may have heard the term ‘Software-as-a-Service’ or ‘SaaS.’ This simply means software that you use that doesn’t run “on premise” at your office location(s). Sometimes companies refer to storage in ‘The Cloud’ and to ‘SaaS’ as different things. This is because cloud-based storage of information (infrastructure and services) can be a totally different solution than the software being delivered as a service (applications) via the cloud! Other organizations use these terms interchangeably. Just be careful to clarify what someone means if you hear these words used in a business context.

We’ve already talked about some of the concerns with SaaS and cloud-based solutions; the obvious benefits include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Reduced upfront costs. SaaS is delivered as a service with fees per month or year, allowing the costs to spread out over time.
  • Reduced IT costs. The SaaS vendor automatically deals with hardware and software upgrades, as well as the personnel to support the solution.
  • Remote access. You no longer need to be tied to a physical computer where the data is stored so you can access solutions almost anywhere!

Why should you care? This is big business, and a trend that’s not slowing down any time soon, as demonstrated in this Forbes article published earlier in 2015.

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably a current or prospective Performance Architects customer or partner and are interested in how this impacts your enterprise and financial management and/or business analytics and BI environments. A good way to get started is to join me for our next live webinar on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 3:30 PM EDT, “How to Start Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting in the Cloud: Case Studies and Lessons Learned.”

We welcome questions and comments either in the forms below the blog entry, or email us directly at communications@performancearchitects.com.


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.