The Types of Dashboard Software Architecture

Dashboard software comes in a variety of styles and designs. Some are highly modern, with vibrant colors and themes for visualizing data. Others are rather basic, but strive to get the numbers across as simply and efficiently as possible. While it’s important to find a dashboard design that suits your brand image and needs, there’s a huge decision waiting for you behind the visuals—the software architecture of the dashboard itself.

There are two main types of business dashboard software architecture to choose from: cloud-based and on-premise. The software you pick will influence important factors such as where your data is stored, how it’s accessed, how it’s protected, and the fees associated with using the dashboard.

Determining which solution is right for your business usually depends on the size of your operation and the amount of data you wish to consolidate. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both solutions so you can make the best choice for managing your data.

Cloud-based solutions

A cloud-based dashboard is a dashboard that retains and provides data via the cloud. The data is hosted on the BI vendor’s server and accessed using a web browser. APIs (Application Programming Interface) are developed for cloud-based platforms using PHP programming language.

Cloud and mobile BI solutions are typically favored by small-medium enterprises (SME). This is due in large part to the ease at which users can build and manage their KPIs without IT support, meaning anyone can be a dashboard expert.

Cloud-based dashboard software is also easier to integrate and deploy, and can be accessed from a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets.

In general, businesses pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to utilize cloud-based software from a vendor.

 ProsCons
Implementation
  • Short implementation and deployment time
  • Usually implementation is shorter  because of a lack of customization options
Security
  • Data is secured by the vendor
  • Larger corporations may not trust the vendor to protect sensitive information
Customization
  • Easy to work with vendors for new features
  • Vendors often provide more updates for lack of better customization
  • Have to go through the vendor make customizations
  • Not all customizations will be considered or implemented
Cost
  • Affordable initial investment
  • No additional hardware costs
  • Monthly or annual service subscription
  • It’s possible to spend more money in the long run than an on-premise license

On-premise solutions

On-premise dashboard software is stored locally, within the servers and computers of the company.

Larger corporations tend to gravitate towards on-premise dashboard solutions, especially if security is a concern. Because the data is housed directly on the company’s servers, rather than on the BI vendor’s, there’s more peace of mind that comes with on-premise software.

Besides security concerns, there are other factors that differentiate on-premise from cloud-based software. Mobile access is difficult to achieve and typically involves a third-party client to integrate properly. However, on-premise dashboard systems are much easier to customize. More often than not, businesses will need specific customizations that cater to their niche, making on-premise software an attractive solution.

In order to unlock and obtain on-premise software, businesses usually purchase a license. Depending on the vendor, the dashboard could be sold as a single license for an entire business, or as an individual license for each user. Often the price of the license will scale based on the size of the company or the amount of users that will be accessing the dashboard.

 ProsCons
Implementation
  • Greater control over how the software is implemented
  • Generally takes longer than cloud-based software to deploy
Security
  • The company is in control of its own data security
  • Requires a team that can establish data security protocols
Customization
  • Superior customization options
  • Each customization takes time and will delay deployment
  • Customizations may need to be reworked anytime the software is updated by the vendor
Cost
  • Initial price is usually less than cloud-based
  • Large upfront investment
  • Involves additional hardware (servers) and IT (security) costs

Hybrid Dashboard Software solutions

It’s possible to find a BI vendor that offers both both cloud and on-premise dashboard software features. As the shift to accessing data from a mobile device continues to grow, more vendors are beginning to implement cloud-based mobile functionality. Vendors such as Oracle, Sage and Microsoft Dynamics offer hybrid options.

Bottom line

Choosing the best software architecture can be difficult. There are many factors at play, from data security and customization, to the speed at which dynamic dashboards can be integrated into your business operations.

Now that you know what’s involved in both cloud-based and on-premise dashboard software, you can consult with multiple vendors to find the perfect match. Perhaps you like the price structure of cloud-based software, but you’re concerned about customization as your business grows. Address this need when talking to a BI vendor. Chances are, if they’re interested in working with your business, they’ll find a way to implement your needs into a special dashboard.

Next up: When Excel Isn’t Enough: How To Tell When You Need a Dashboard

There comes a point in running a business when crucial management and executive decisions rely on data insights that Excel can’t provide. The hard part, however, is knowing when that time comes. Companies that have grown use to data spreadsheets in Excel might not realize the benefits that are in store for them when they utilize a dashboard for reporting.

In this article, you’ll learn whether it’s time to retire Excel or if you can manage without a dashboard for the time being.

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