Bime: The time is right for cloud BI

Bime, an early provider of a cloud BI product, is rolling out an update that includes an improved UI and simplified pricing.

Bime, an early provider of a cloud BI product, says the pieces are finally in place to let more businesses take advantage of its product. Bime is rolling out a revamped UI and a simplified pricing structure today.

Rachel Delacour cofounded Bime in 2009 in an effort to solve a problem she faced as a financial controller. As part of her job, she used a traditional BI product to send a report to her CEO every day. "I was very frustrated with it. It was so difficult to use. I couldn't train any colleagues to use it because it was too complex and it was expensive to buy new licenses," said Delacour, who now serves as CEO of Bime.

She decided to quit her job as a controller and develop a better product. At the time, Amazon Web Services was already proving to be a solid business. From the start, Bime decided to develop a cloud-based service rather than build another on-premises server software BI product.

That's now proving to have been a good strategy, Delacour said. "It's a fact today that data is moving to the cloud," she said. "There is a new web service popping up every day."

New services like AWS's RedShift are bringing data capabilities to businesses at a fraction of the price that they'd have had to pay just a few years ago, she said. "The fact that our business intelligence solution can leverage all those new technologies is fantastic," she said.

Bime joins a host of companies that are trying to reinvent BI and while many of them are also cloud services, some have opted to build server software instead. For instance, Zoomdata offers a server-based BI product that it says offers users the flexibility to run it on-premises or in the cloud and also allows them to embed the technology into their own products. Tableau is also a server-based offering.

While many businesses are starting to store their data in the cloud, others need access to legacy data stored in-house and so Bime lets users connect to data from essentially any source. "We are not asking customers to send their data to the cloud," Delacour said. Bime connects to Web services as well as data that might be stored in an Oracle or MySQL database on-premises.

Offering a cloud service also means that Bime makes it very easy for businesses to try out its product. "There's no financial risk," she said.

Traditional BI products typically require big integration projects that involve large up front investments and many months of time before businesses know for sure that the system will meet their requirements. Bime lets users try out the service for free. Also, users pay a monthly subscription so they can quit any time. "It's really disruptive in the BI field where before it was a matter of big money," she said.

Bime's base plan now costs $490 a month and includes 35 connectors. A "big data" plan costs $690 and includes connectors to repositories like Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, SAP Hana, and HP Vertica.

Bime has also redesigned the UI to make it easier to use. The service automatically chooses the type of chart that should fit the data source that a user is querying. It also now treats more elements like widgets so that users can more easily move items around.

Bime lists some big name customers on its Web site including Shell, Greenpeace, Husqvarna, Sony, Cisco, and Western Union. But it has some tough competition. Birst and GoodData are perhaps the best known cloud BI providers. There are also a host of other cloud businesses like Chartio, ClearStory, Roambi, and BigML, that deliver data visualization tools that might meet the BI requirements of some users. It's likely that the traditional BI vendors are thinking about how they might offer cloud BI as well.

Delacour's not worried though. Products like Bime open the door to many more users within an organization, meaning there's plenty of opportunity, she said. "I think there's a huge market," she said.

This story, "Bime: The time is right for cloud BI" was originally published by CITEworld.

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