This company is one of the first to offer business intelligence software by the hour, in the cloud

Open source business intelligence company Jaspersoft is one of the first to offer its analytics software from the cloud on a pay-by-the-hour rate, according to the company and one independent analyst.

Starting at $0.53 per hour, customers can spin up Jaspersoft's services in Amazon Web Services' cloud and be analyzing data within 10 minutes, the company says. "A lot of vendors are offering cloud-based BI services," says Claudia Imhoff, president of Intelligent Solutions, who tracks the BI market. Most of them are pay by the user or by the bit of data though; Jaspersoft is the first she's seen with a pay-by-the-hour model. "It's seems pretty simple," she says. "That's how the cloud works."

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Jaspersoft's services are also available as software that can be run on customer premises, but the cloud-based version is meant for data that's in AWS's cloud, specifically the company Relational Database Service (RDS), or its newly announced data warehouse,  RedShift. Jaspersoft can be used with a variety of data, but CRM, marketing and ecommerce are popular use cases. BI tools like Jaspersoft help customers recognize trends in the data - for example which items customers are purchasing on an ecommerce website, which other items they viewed, what they've purchased in the past or which products sell best during which time of the year. "The possibilities are really limitless in the data you can get from these tools," Imhoff says.

Jaspersoft is not alone in providing BI tools; in fact it's a hot market, Imhoff says. Major players include IBM with its Cognos software, Oracle and SAS. Jaspersoft represents one of the smaller startups in the market, along with companies like TIBCO's SpotFire. While the cloud does seem like a natural place to do BI analysis, Imhoff notes there could be downsides.

One of the promises of BI tools is that they aggregate data from multiple disparate sources into one platform. Some customers could have concerns about proverbially putting all their eggs in one basket in the public cloud, and there can be concerns around the "stickiness" of the data once it is uploaded to the cloud, and how it can be brought back on to a company's premises.

"There are many good aspects," to using cloud-based BI tools, Imhoff says, "but some concerns too," she notes. Having a pay-by-the-hour service could help smaller organizations that do not have access to hardware resources, or IT expertise though try the tools out.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.