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IPASJ International Journal of Information Technology (IIJIT)

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ISSN 2321-5976

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Volume 4, Issue 6, June 2016

Challenges in Implementation of Cloud Analytics


R. Vidhyalakshmi1, Dr. Vikas Kumar2
1

Research Scholar, JJT University, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan


2

Sharda University, Greater Noida, U.P.

ABSTRACT
Proliferation of technology, data warehouses, social media, audio-video streams, blogs and tweets is responsible for the
generation of huge volume and variety of data. Converting these huge datasets into business intelligence by correlating,
synthesizing and aggregating useful insights from them is the prime process of analytics solutions. With the data and
applications being migrated to cloud for convenience and cost saving, analytic solutions also follows the path. Cloud analytics
enable organizations to move business intelligence, data warehouse operations and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) to
cloud. Scalability, flexibility, fast delivery of analytics solution, ubiquitous access, limitless compute and storage are the
benefits of cloud analytics inclusion. Data management, security, integration, compliance issues, poor software architecture
and design are some of the issues that prevail with cloud inclusion for analytics solution. Adoption of hybrid or mutli-cloud
approach depending on the sensitivity of the data and drafting strategies to identify the scope of analytics applications will help
to reduce the demerits of cloud analytics. This paper outlines the challenges of cloud analytics adoption in the perspective of
organization, provider and governance along with suggested solutions.

Keywords: Data analytics, business intelligence, cloud analytics, reference architecture, SaaS BI

1. INTRODUCTION
Rapid development in technology and ease of its adoption to implement business operations has fuelled the growth of
organizations. This technology adoption has also resulted in huge volume of data being acquired from various sources
such as: daily transactions, customer feedback & monitoring, website tracking, blogs and tweets related to marketing
activities, consumer preferences etc. [1]. These data are of structured and unstructured format and also keeps
accumulating at a very fast pace. Managing this huge volume of data also termed as Big Data to gain business insights
and competitive advantage is an arduous task [2]. The ability of analytics tools to mine and cross-relate various type of
data acquired from different sources to extract details regarding the needs and preferences of the customers, prediction
of the customer demands, sales trends etc. enable organizations to frame their strategies and maximize resource
utilization and profit [1][3]. This completely replaces the intuition based decision making processes with informed
decision making processes which is also termed as Business Intelligence (BI) [4][5]. The analytics solutions are
categorized as descriptive, prescriptive and predictive solutions [1]. Historical data are used to identify the hidden
patterns and to generate reports in descriptive solutions. Current and historical data are used to analyze and predict the
future trends in predictive solutions. Assistance to analyst in decision making is provided by prescriptive analytic
solutions where actions are identified along with business impact specifications. Effective inclusion of data analytics
solutions will enable organizations to identify and adapt to the constantly changing business and customer
requirements. Implementation of on-premise analytics solution requires huge investment in infrastructure, computing
resources, software licenses, consultancy and expertise to organize and integrate data [1][2]. On-premise analytics
implementation also strives to transforms the output of analytics solutions to Return on Investment expectation and
profit growths [9]. Gartner survey has revealed that 85% of Fortune 500 companies have difficulty in leveraging the
benefits of data analytics due to lack of data access facility which eventually resulted in missing of development
opportunities [6].
Cloud paradigm which provides on-demand delivery of scalable services that are built on Service Oriented Architecture
(SOA) and virtualization concepts is adopted by organizations to complement data analytics solutions [1][9]. Adoption
of cloud paradigm for the implementation of data analytics will provide an effective and efficient solution for the issues
of on-premise data analytics [6]. Moving analytics to cloud is the optimal solution for data accessibility issue as the data
in cloud can be accessed remotely at any time using any device [6]. The scalability feature of cloud attracts more
migration of analytics solution to cloud as it supports the processing of extremely large datasets. Analytics solutions are

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ISSN 2321-5976

also provided as service from cloud with the help of frameworks and engine created by various research teams [9].
Some of the major cloud analytics providers are IBM, Oracle, HP, Jaspersoft, Windows Azure, Google etc [10].
Cloud analytics is defined as a service model designed to deliver the data analytics processes through private, public or
hybrid cloud deployment solutions [7]. Examples of cloud analytics service and products includes (a) Software as a
Service (SaaS) BI, where scalable and less expensive BI applications are delivered from the hosted locations with
limited customization facility, (b) hosted data warehouses, where data is stored as central repository at the providers
end and customers are provided remote access, and (c) social media analytics based on cloud, where tools are
provisioned with applications to choose social media sites that suits the business purposes and data analytics solution
suites [7]. Implementation of cloud analytics requires efficient pre planning processes to acquire complete
understanding of the expectations from cloud analytics product [8]. Table 1 depicts various ways of implementing
analytics application using different cloud service models such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a
Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) [3][9]. IaaS based analytics are used by data management and mining
professionals, PaaS based analytics are used by data scientists and analytic application developer and SaaS based
analytics are used by end users and data analysts [3].
Table 1: Cloud analytics service models
Analytics Service Model

Usage details

Infrastructure as a
Service

Set of virtualized resources provided to data mining programmers for


development, configuration and execution of data analytics
applications.

Platform as a Service

Data analysis framework for development of high level applications


with the abstraction of cloud infrastructure and storage.

Software as a Service

Single function or complete mining application along with data


storage feature offered as service.

The migration or adoption of cloud analytics is sure to provide various benefits to the organization such as greater
flexibility, agility, seamless resource availability, scalability, cost reduction, faster deployments, high service
availability, access to social media data and automatic updation facility to keep pace with ever changing business and
customer requirements [10-12]. The cloud analytics inclusion also brings in a queue of challenges such as data
management, latency, security, regulatory compliance and customization [3]. This paper focuses on the challenges
involved in adoption of cloud analytics along with suggested solutions. Section 2 details the architecture of cloud
analytics with the following section 3 highlighting the major cloud analytics provider. Section 4 outlines the challenges
of cloud analytics adoption with suggested solutions followed by Conclusion and future scope discussed in Section 5.

2. CLOUD ANALYTICS ARCHITECTURE


The components of data analytics as defined by Gartner are data sources, data representation models, processing logics,
computation power, analytics model, storing and distribution of results [8]. Cloud analytics, which refers to the
utilization of cloud services for a single or all components of an analytic solution, enable organizations to leverage
social data, Internet data and third party data by using pay per use model [16]. Integration of these data with the
enterprise data will provide more insight about customer preferences and demands [13]. On-premise analytics solution
which is built on restricted storage space and compute power infrastructure when replaced by cloud analytics will
enhance the business intelligence capacity of the organization [10][11]. The need for new relational database model
such as NoSQL, which efficiently stores and access huge volume of data from cloud evolved as the analytics
applications utilize datasets with more reads than writes [9]. The compute intensive module of the analytics is the
primary candidates of the analytics application to be moved on to cloud for the advantage fast query responses and
reduced decision making time [14].
Four main layers of cloud analytics architecture as given in figure 1 are a) infrastructure layer b) data storage and
management layer, c) analytics layer and d) visualization layer. A common layer is present that includes security,
information governance and regulatory compliance. Security management deals with access management, user
authentication, protection of data and application in multi-tenant architecture. Information governance deals with the
standard policies that are to be followed while transferring data in the analytics environment [12]. Regulatory

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compliance is the compliance measures that are to be followed while handling data storage across the globe. Domain
specific compliance measures such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS/ US-EU Safe Harbor are to be applied based on the application
or user demand [20].
2.1 Infrastructure Layer
This layer is responsible for storing and managing data. The layer consists of structured and unstructured data gathered
from various data sources. The machine / sensor data, social data, video streaming data and third party data are
available in pay per use basis for easy integration with enterprise data [12]. The entire infrastructure management
activities such as dynamic provisioning, monitoring and automatic deployments are handled by this layer. The
requirement spikes and the rapid growth of the data base are handled by the horizontal and vertical scalability feature
of cloud infrastructure [15]. This is also the foundation layer of the cloud analytics architecture that enables
organizations to leverage fast and low-risk infrastructure deployments.

Time Series

ROC

Box Plot

Pie Chart

Tree Maps

Alerts

Analytics Layer
Data mining, Text mining, Machine learning
Outlier detection,
entity extraction

Mining algorithm,
genetic algorithm

Classification /
Association Rules

Summarization,
clustering, simulation

Data Management Layer


Taggin
g

NoSQL Key value store

Metadata

HDFS

Unique indexing

RDBMS

Infrastructure layer

Structured | Unstructured |
Semi structured | Streaming |
Social Media | Third party data
collection

Provisioning,
Monitoring ,
Deployment

Information Governance

Bar Chart

Security Management

Histogra
m

Regulatory Compliance

Visualization Layer

Figure 1 Cloud Analytics Architecture

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2.2 Data Management Layer


It is a data storage repository layer which is also termed as data lakes. Huge amount of raw data in structured,
unstructured and semi-structured format is stored as flat files for analytics purposes. The schema and data format
requirements are not defined until a query is raised. Each data element of this layer is attached with a unique identifier
and is tagged using metadata tags [17]. This layer is maintained using Hadoop-oriented object storage, where the
queries are applied to retrieve intelligence [18]. It differs from the Enterprise Data Warehouses (EDW) as it employs
schema-on-read processing, possesses greater agility and reusability along with low cost of storage. Node failure and
data movements between the nodes are routine operations in the data management using cloud setup. This is done to
maintain fault tolerance feature of cloud analytics using automatic replication of data across nodes in cloud cluster of
this layer [9].
2.3 Analytics Layer
This is the core layer of the cloud analytics as it holds the business intelligence applications. It consists of pre-analytic
or filtering tools and analytics tools. Pre-analytic tools are used to cleanse, choose and organize data that were retrieved
from the data management layer and analytics tools are used to identify the patterns and retrieve actionable insights
from the data [12][15]. Various data and text mining algorithms such as clustering algorithm, association rules,
frequent pattern matching algorithms, genetic algorithm etc. are utilized in this layer to retrieve intelligence.
Supervised machine learning methods such as classification and regression are used on the existing set of data to
perform predictive analysis [19]. Various analytics tools and software used by this layer are R, SAS, Mathematica,
Matlab, MapReduce, Pig, Hive and ETL tools, etc.
2.4 Visualization Layer
This layer provides user interface for accepting user queries and displaying analytics results. Quick and effective
response is the main desired feature of this layer to gain fast and deeper insights. This layer helps users to customize
the data analytics visualizations. This layer enables subject matter experts (SME) to explore the data without any
assistance of the IT experts [15]. This also provides the flexibility to explore business query with various parameters
and aspects, which will assist in making accurate decisions. The elimination of assistance to extract insights enhances
the quality of information retrieval as the SME directly works on the data without the interference which eliminates the
requirement specification degradation.

3. CLOUD ANALYTICS TOOLS


Cloud analytics adoption is slowly proliferating into organizations of all sizes. Different model based implementation
and customization requirements of BI applications make it difficult to implement on a global scale which suits all
customer requirements [21]. Still cloud analytics are being adopted due to its business benefits. Based on IDG survey of
200 business and IT decision makers, more than 50% of the respondents have plans to deploy cloud analytics in the
year 2016. The business and technical drivers of cloud analytics adoption are cited as: [21][22]
1. Ease of analytics on customer relations, HR and supply chain operations
2. Faster analytics solution deployment
3. Access to world wide data sources
4. Hybrid data warehouse facility
5. Flexible implementations
6. Integration of enterprise data with cloud data
7. Reduction of Total Cost Ownership
8. Improved availability
9. Enhanced technical agility
10. Reduced software maintenance cost
Various providers offer infrastructure and software platforms for development of analytics solutions. Organizations
with sensitive data can utilize the analytics platforms provided as service to develop customized analytic solutions.
Analytics as a service can be utilized by the users to reduce the IT management overhead, where analysis and reporting,
data loading and visualization are provided as service [23]. SaaS BI, also termed as on-demand BI or cloud BI, includes
delivery of BI applications from hosted locations. Easy scalability and low startup cost are the advantages of SaaS BI
along with less customization as one of the main disadvantage of the same [7]. Table 2 provides a list of cloud analytics

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applications along with its feature details.

Table 2: Cloud analytics applications


Description

Products

Referenc
e

Pragmatic big data, high interactive dash boards,


advanced visualizations

[24]

BIME

Sales pipeline Analytics, win rate analytics,


backlog analytics, product returns analytics, call
center performance

[25]

Birst

Trend analysis, visual data discovery, data


exploration, marketing analytics, yammer
development.

[26]

GoodData

Analytics visualization, real-time analytics, big


data analytics, advanced analytics

[27]

Oracle Exalytics
Power BI

Real-time analytics, sentiment analysis, data


visualization, mobile BI

[28]

Web based interface for desktop software, data


visualization, info-graphic style reports.
Desktop Data visualization, blogs and social
media data access

[29]

Sophisticated visualization using 3D scatter plot,


map charts, advanced analytics using k-means
clustering and integrated R engine.
Data pre-aggregation for faster analysis, effective
BI and ETL tools

[31]

Natural language assisted data analysis,


InfoSphere data refinery, SPSS analytics, Cognos
visualization

[33]

SAP Lumira
Tableau

TIBCO Spotfire
Vertica
Watson Analytics

[30]

[32]

4. IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES
Traditional BI applications maintain transaction data, enterprise data warehouse and its analytic solutions in the
premises, which provides greater security and customizability but they lack in handling increase in volume of data and
computing on huge datasets. Cloud analytics provides effective solution for the traditional BI issues but also includes
various challenges in its implementation. Organizations often fail to devise a collaborative plan involving different
departments, prior to the implementation of cloud analytics solutions. This results in a piece-meal approach of each
department having their own analytics solutions which stubs the cost reduction benefit of cloud inclusion in analytics
[8]. The challenges also arise due to geographically distributed storage, involvement of various third- party for the
provision of intermediate services, cross border compliance issues and network latency [16]. The challenges are
addressed in this research work in the viewpoint of organization, provider and governance. The challenges are :
4.1 Marketing Hype
This is one of the main challenges as organizations often get carried away by the marketing claims. All companies that
offer one or more components of the analytics solution are tagged as cloud analytics companies. Some offer complete BI
solutions and others may offer either the analytic part or the data storage component. Lack of clear understanding of the
scope required and the scope of the cloud analytic solution will result in wrong selection of the product that may result
in performance degradation of the decision making process [6].
Suggested Solution: Six elements of the analytics solutions and their scope of operations are to be clearly understood
by the person responsible for the selection of the analytic product. Depending on the nature of data and process
sensitivity either SaaS BI or analytics as a service has to be selected.

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4.2 Integration
This is a considered as a benefit if handled properly and also pose a major challenge for the organizations that maintain
on-premise applications and opt out Cloud BI for analytic operations [8]. The format compatibility of the data that are
to be used between the on-premise and cloud analytics solutions may lead to inconsistent decision making. Data
originating from the cloud such as social media data or the SaaS application data are comparatively easier to handle
than on-premise data. Cloud analytic solutions comprise of disparate and distributed data and often require extensive
integration specifications.
Suggested Solution: Maintaining the data in the open data format or the standard data format is the optimal solution
for the integration issues. The usage of data format conversion module for the purpose of integration must be minimum
to reduce the software development and maintenance cost.
4.3 Security
Security is a prime concern for the cloud users due to the loss of control on data and applications [34]. Scalability of the
analytics data will be affected when maintained in on-premise storage servers. This is an inherent challenge of cloud
analytics as the sensitive data of the customer, employee and products which needs to be protected with strong
authentication are distributed across the globe for optimal resource utilization, enhanced scalability and fault tolerance.
This is also considered as one of the inhibitor for cloud analytics adoption [8].
Suggested Solution: Identification and segregation of sensitive and less sensitive data and using hybrid approach of onpremise and cloud storage will be a solution for this security challenge. If the organizations complete data collection is
sensitive then the analytics as a service component, which provide modeling and visualization tools as service that
works on the on-premise data can be utilized. Possession of valid security certificate by the provider will increase
customer trust factor.
4.4 Lack of skill set
Demand for the data scientist is growing exponentially as more and more organizations are getting into the bandwagon
of analytics. Recruiting, training and employing data scientist is a challenging task. As this is an emerging discipline
getting expertise from diverse field is very difficult. The cloud analytics solutions are provided by numerous companies
and each product is designed to provide domain specific solutions [35]. The choice of the best analytic tool to assist the
organization in making decision is very essential as it is the base for generating accurate business predictions and
suggestions.
Suggested Solution: Organizations must focus on employing people with critical and analytical thinking skills. With
the shortage of data scientist skillset, organizations must develop analytics skills of their internal talent pool. This is an
optimal solution as they are already aware of the business processes.
4.5 Regulatory Compliance
Data governance provides standards and context specific policies regarding its storage and processing. This is an
inevitable part of all cloud services due to its cross border working [16]. Data regulation policies vary across locations.
Personal data is protected in EU countries where as US patriot law allows access to data. In spite of the regulation
variation, geographical distribution of data is essential to maintain fault tolerance [35]. The restriction on data
movement will force storage at a single data center which will affect optimal resource utilization, fail over facility and
cost of the resources.
Suggested Solution: Product specifications are to be screened properly to check for the compliance certifications. The
providers of cloud analytics services have to acquire compliance certificates such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, US-EU Safe
Harbor depending on the domain of the serving customers. These certificates are to be renewed periodically.
4.6 Customization
Traditional BI applications are developed for a particular customer based on their business requirements. SaaS BI on
the other hand is developed for a wide range of customers and hence customization as per the business needs is not
possible. Organizations are either forced to mold the analytics needs as per the SaaS BI specifications or have to
tolerate presence of unwanted module. This will pose a great challenge for the organizations who maintain traditional
BI along with analytics taken as service.

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Suggested Solution: choosing an appropriate SaaS BI matching nearly to their requirement will provide a solution to
the challenge. If the organization is very particular about their BI needs, then the data storage can be done in cloud and
analytic solution can be developed as on-premise application. This will eliminate the tolerance of unwanted modules.
4.7 Latency
Cloud inclusion brings in the latency challenge due to its Internet based working. This is a long standing challenge due
to its lack of proper accountability. Data localization can be opted by the organization to reduce the latency but it will
increase the cost of storage. Cloud analytic possesses automatic transfer of the process nearer to the data location in
order to reduce latency issues. Organizations, which switches from traditional BI to cloud analytics, will also face the
latency issues during initial data migration.
Suggested Solution: Third-party auditing of the network will attempt to solve the accountability issues. Based on the
criticality of the data a tradeoff between the time delay and cost has to be carried out. The initial bulk data transfer
delay can be reduced by sending the data in storage devices physically.

5. CONCLUSION
Adoption of cloud analytics has few inherent challenges that need to be addressed prior to its implementation for
attaining deeper business insights. Collaboration of the departments in outlining the BI needs of the organization will
assist in determining the selection of the right mix of cloud analytics solutions. Hybrid or mix-cloud approach is the
optimal solution to address security and availability issues. Careful and detailed analysis of the product offering and the
provider will help to overcome the compliance related challenges. Feedback based updations of SaaS BI products will
assist providers to handle customization challenges. In spite of the challenges mentioned in this research work cloud
analytics is sought after for analytics solution due to its ease of usage and cost reduction. This makes it essential to
eliminate or reduce the challenges and improve reliability of the cloud analytics solutions.

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ISSN 2321-5976

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AUTHOR
R. Vidhyalakshmi received her Master in Computer Science from Bharathidasan University,
Tamil Nadu, India in 1995. She has two years of development and over eleven years of teaching
experience. She was also awarded as the Best Faculty in her teaching tenure. She is presently
pursuing her PhD from JJT University, Rajasthan, India. Her area of research is cloud computing
with specific focus on the reliability aspect of cloud applications. She is a life time member of
ISTE. She has a book, several research papers to her credit in national, international conference
proceedings and international journals. Her areas of interest include cloud computing, SaaS
reliability, Big Data and analytics.

Volume 4, Issue 6, June 2016

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IPASJ International Journal of Information Technology (IIJIT)


A Publisher for Research Motivation ........

Volume 4, Issue 6, June 2016

Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJIT/IIJIT.htm


Email:editoriijit@ipasj.org
ISSN 2321-5976

Dr. Vikas Kumar received his MSc in Electronics from Kurukshetra University, Haryana, India
and received his MSc in Computer Science and PhD degree from the same university. His PhD
work was in collaboration with CEERI, Pilani and he has worked in a number of ISRO sponsored
projects. He is a member of IEEE, IEEE Communication Society and Computer Science Teacher
Association (USA). He is a life member of the Indian Science Congress Association, Computer
Society of India, IETE, ICEIE, IPA, VEDA, IVS and Magnetic Society of India. Along with the
two books, he has more than 80 research papers to his credit in various national and international
conferences and journals. His areas of interest include cloud computing, ICT for development
and electronic communication.

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