Companies have become heavily invested in using the Cloud to bring all of their data into one easily accessible place. Therefore it makes perfect sense why they are also going to the Cloud to search for BI solutions that integrate with many Cloud/SaaS applications via their APIs, which allow developers to integrate programs and applications into the Cloud.
However, not all Cloud APIs are created equally and sometimes doing reporting and analytics from a cloud-based API may not be the best solution. There are companies, such as Chartio, Domo, and Grow, that specialize in reporting from Cloud APIs. However, due to Yurbi’s complex data pulling capabilities, we specialize in on-premise reporting pulling mainly from local, database-driven data sources.
So, how can companies determine whether they need a Cloud API or a on-premise database-oriented reporting solution? It begins with determining the depth of your company’s business intelligence needs.
Determining the Depth and Frequency of Your Reporting Needs
Most companies searching for Cloud API solutions for business intelligence desire in-depth and customizable reporting, but many pre-built API solutions that BI vendors offer are simply “eye candy.” Often, these reports look great but have hard-coded metrics and dashboards that don’t allow you to pull reports or configure calculations based on the data. Cloud APIs have several additional limitations, including:
Limited information restrictions: May Cloud API providers limit the amount of information you can actually retrieve from them by limiting how often you can query the API and how much data you can access in one API call. This makes complex reporting challenging because complex reports require many data pulls, which will be blocked by these limitations.
Lack of history: Most Cloud APIs will only give you the current status of your data, but will not provide your data history. For example, if you are tracking the life cycle of a helpdesk ticket, you would only be able to see its current status versus all of the historical data of when it was submitted and how long it took to close it.
Time. Complex data pulls generally take a long time to complete, so it’s usually not feasible to conduct complex reporting with live data via the Cloud API.
Security barriers. Typically, Cloud APIs will run in the context of a user, meaning users can only pull data accessible through their specific login. This will block any data a username doesn’t have permission to see so typically companies connect to the Cloud API using an admin or higher-level user account which creates the opposite problem, users potentially have access to more information than you wish they had.
These limitations better position Cloud APIs for simple reporting requirements than dynamic BI dashboards with drill-down and ad-hoc capabilities. Therefore, companies desiring to use full dashboards and conduct in-depth reporting should avoid Cloud APIs and pursue local database options for reporting on Cloud-based applications.
The Benefits of Database Reporting for API Applications
Instead of going live against an API, on-premise reporting tools like Yurbi use a “fetch-and-store” model. This means that on a scheduled basis, Yurbi pulls data and builds a local data store off of the database (Yurbi includes an embedded PostgreSQL database which is perfect for this). Yurbi’s fetch-and-store, on-premise model has numerous benefits, including:
Faster reporting: When data is pulled from a database versus a live Cloud API, reporting becomes much faster.
Flattened reports: In a local data store, data can be stored in an optimized format, which means reports that were tricky with API data calls are now flattened out, making reporting much more efficient.
Access to historical data: With the fetch-and-store model of storing data, you have access to your data’s complete history. This is helpful if you ever decide to leave a cloud provider because you won’t lose all of your data, since often an export will not include all of the history when leaving a Cloud company just the current status of information.
More secure data access: With Yurbi’s local data store model, your data is more secure because Yurbi allows you to share as little or as much data that you need. For example, if you have employees that need access to a Cloud/SaaS application’s data and do not have access to the application, you can provide them access to the specific data they need without compromising security (or purchasing them a license to the Cloud App).
Cloud integration capabilities: Once you have data in your local database, it becomes really easy to take that data and integrate it with other data in the Cloud. This integration allows you to pull complex reports and calculations that leverage all of your data, regardless of where it’s stored.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking at more complex reporting, BI vendors that provide pre-programmed dashboards and reports integrated with the Cloud/SaaS application API may not be the best fit because they generally can’t do data deep dives like on-premise database oriented reporting solutions like Yurbi are able to do. Don’t be fooled by vendors that have pre-built connectors to Cloud companies – they may just be eye candy.