A Smart Microsoft Cloud Architecture for Business Analytics

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With the emergence of the cloud as a popular deployment option, many vendors are making their solutions available as cloud offerings, including Microsoft, which has gone full bore as a cloud solutions provider.  Indeed, Microsoft’s latest cloud strategy is “delivering a complete cloud for every business, industry and geography.”

In a previous blog, we described how business analytics was moving towards “intelligent business operations” that enable more comprehensive business modeling, including modeling based on real-time data. It is now possible to assemble a product portfolio of Microsoft cloud solutions, supplemented by best-of-breed applications like deFacto’s, to achieve an end-to-end “smart architecture” in the cloud.

An example of the pieces that would comprise an end-to-end Microsoft cloud BPM solution are  Microsoft Dynamics AX, SQL Server, SharePoint, Yammer, and Office 365, with a high-performance BPM engine like deFacto’s supplying the “brains” (business modeling, planning, and decision-making). A smart cloud architecture of this type enables business planning and analytics teams to collaborate, share financial information, and build models to improve the decision-making of their organization.

Where Trends Collide

This type of scenario is in line with what Gartner calls the Nexus of Forces, a set of converging and mutually reinforcing trends (social collaboration, mobility, information and cloud) that are redefining the delivery of information technology. As many analysts point out (including GigaOm, Forrester, Gartner, BPM Partners, Aberdeen Research, and more), this cloud-based ecosystem represents a paradigm shift that is making new modes of collaboration, deployment, integration, and services possible for the business world.

Aberdeen Group, in particular, has conducted extensive research that shows that businesses that deploy business analytics in the cloud reap a number of benefits, including faster deployment, significantly less critical information delivered late, timelier analysis, higher operating profit, and reduction in operating costs.  Effective business analytics, says Aberdeen, have evolved from “nice to have” to “must have,” providing a competitive edge through cleaner and more relevant data and more potent analytical systems.

Microsoft’s Cloud OS

Microsoft calls its version of cloud and application convergence the “Cloud OS.” To provide this type of infrastructure, Microsoft’s Cloud OS links on-premises solutions with private cloud, public cloud, and cloud infrastructure services to create a flexible hybrid solution. As Microsoft says:

The comprehensive reach of Microsoft’s cloud services sets our offerings apart from the rest of the industry. Where other providers have focused on SaaS applications delivered through the public cloud or IaaS in the datacenter, Microsoft’s cloud services portfolio reaches from the stratosphere down to ground level, offering SaaS (Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online), PaaS (Azure and SQL Azure), and IaaS (Hyper-V Cloud, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and others).

Adding to its cloud portfolio, Microsoft has introduced The Microsoft Cloud Platform System, a private-cloud-in-a-box that runs on Dell hardware and uses the same software that powers Microsoft’s Azure public cloud (Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows Systems Center, and Azure Pack). This private cloud system can connect with Microsoft’s public Azure cloud or other Azure hybrid cloud systems.

To make it easier for Azure customers to find and connect to third-party vendor cloud solutions, Microsoft has introduced the Azure Marketplace, an online store that connects independent software vendors (ISVs) with Azure customers around the world.  Microsoft’s aim is to enable its cloud services to work together and to interoperate with third-party cloud services through a well-documented set of APIs.

Whole Enchilada

Comprehensiveness is Microsoft’s cloud game plan, and it is touting its cloud offerings as “the only cloud services suite that gives users every available option” and “the only cloud services suite that bridges every flavor of cloud available.”

Gartner agrees that Microsoft’s comprehensive cloud offerings set it apart, calling Microsoft one of only a few vendors that have whole solutions for virtualization, private cloud offerings, and public cloud services. Gartner also named Microsoft Azure a leader in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure.

All this is good news for business analytics, which is advancing in step with the cloud by taking business modeling, planning, and decision-making to a higher plane.  Companies with Microsoft applications and server solutions can now choose a Microsoft cloud infrastructure that is best suited to their requirements and easily add a world-class BPM component like deFacto to make data gathering, collaboration, and business planning more powerful and flexible than ever.

In this way, companies can reap the benefits of the new breed of intelligent business operations solutions in a configuration that works best for them—be it public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, on-premise, or any mixture of these—with the bottom line being easier, faster, better business planning and decision making.

by By Michael Neubarth. deFacto Global



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