Top 7 On-Premise Business Intelligence Tools and How to Choose The Right One
Last updated on
January 31, 2023
There are important reasons why certain companies need to host and run their business intelligence solution themselves. The primary reason is usually data security, especially for businesses operating in highly regulated industries like banking.
Finding the right one can be tough, but is more important than ever, given the impact a data platform can have on your organisation and its effort to empower staff and democratize data access.
We’ve done the legwork and compiled a list of the top eight on-premise business intelligence tools you can use for your organisation, along with an eligibility list to help you decide the best tool for your data needs.
The top 8 on-prem BI tools for 2023
What to consider when choosing a business intelligence platform
The business intelligence platform you choose will directly impact how you mine your data, analyse, distribute, and use it to gain a competitive advantage and serve your users better.
If you pick a more qualified tool than your requirements and employee technical knowledge, your team won’t be able to set up and use it to its maximum capacity. Or, if you pick a tool that doesn’t align with your needs, like integrations for specific use cases, the tool will fail to meet its true purpose.
So, it’s important to have a set of eligibility criteria—a list of considerations that are a deal-breaker for you to invest in a tool. Let’s look at some of these factors that can help you pick the right BI tool for your needs:
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Is self-hosted right for your business?
One of the most popular reasons organisations choose self-hosted BI over cloud BI is the data security it offers. So, if you deal with sensitive data that has some regulation and management restrictions, it’s best to go with a self-hosted option, as it’ll give you the freedom to manage the data the way you want.
However, if you’re a small firm that wants to perform simple data analytics operations without an in-house IT team and your data volume is unlikely to spike in the near future—cloud BI may be the best option for you. But if you choose a cloud-based tool because it’s more practical and affordable, be mindful of potential hidden costs like data transport expenses and additional users or functionality, which will increase as your operations expand.
How easy is it to set up and start using?
On-premise is simple to deploy and use as long as you have a server and IT team ready in-house. However, each tool has a different deployment and operating system, so ease of setup and usage ultimately depends on the tool you choose.
Does it require clean raw data to use?
While it’s true that some business intelligence tools require you to process raw data to provide accurate reporting and visualisations—it’s more of a choice. You can also want to clean raw data for tools that don’t have this prerequisite because raw data is easier to work with.
However, a significant downside to doing this is it may eat up a lot of time on your IT team’s end. Besides, if you’re constantly adding new data, like when you release new product features, it will act as a bottleneck to your team’s ability to get the answers they need fast because the data needs to be cleaned and processed before you can access it.
Bottom line: Choose a tool based on your preference. If you want a tool that’s ready to go as soon as the server is live, pick one that doesn’t require data cleaning and processing. But if you want to work with and manage data efficiently, you can also go for a tool with a raw data processing requirement.
How much support is available?
With on-premise business intelligence, a significant portion of your support will come from the internal IT team, like software installation, managing local matters, maintenance, and managing server capacity. However, additional support depends on what your tool provides.
Trevor.io has a prompt and customer-driven support team you can reach out by phone, live chat, Zoom, or an in-person meeting if you’re close by.
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Does it integrate with third-party tools like Slack, Zapier, and Hubspot?
An ideal BI solution should integrate with your existing tools and workflows seamlessly to coordinate your work and get data alerts and insights to incorporate into your operations directly.
It’s a good thing that most on-premise tools, although self-hosted, offer the flexibility to connect with your top third-party cloud applications.
Trevor.io, for instance, live streams your data results to Google Sheets, sends them to a Slack channel you’ve specified, and also shares them via email.
Does it align with your budget?
Lastly, your business intelligence budget should align with the tool you choose.
Be mindful that on-premise requires an internal investment with server hardware, software licenses, and IT employees. Add to this the maintenance charges to fix bugs or, if anything breaks, and it’s safe to say that you need a dedicated budget for business intelligence.
However, if you have a fixed internal budget, your tool expenses will depend on your chosen solution and the plan you opt for, which brings us to our next section.
Best on-premise business intelligence tools
With these considerations in mind, you want to pick the tool that’s best suited to your data analysis requirements and business objectives. One that will not only make your IT team’s job easier and free their time, but that will also enable your employees across the organization to understand and leverage data in their daily operations. Let’s look at some of these tools:
Trevor is a comprehensive data analysis software that helps the entire organisation find answers to any question within their database, irrespective of the users' technical knowledge. This self-hosted tool gets over 2.5 million queries every month through its intuitive real-time query-builder, yet is seamless with its functionality and data request responses.
The best part about Trevor is that it connects directly to your company’s database with a read-only transaction without creating a copy of your data, thus providing you with top-notch data security.
It also offers you the flexibility to choose what kind of data and graphs you want to show to which users, thus giving you complete autonomy and flexibility over data management and governance.
Who is Trevor best suited for?
Trevor is ideal for fast-growing SaaS and marketplace companies with overflowing data requests that keep the engineer occupied all the time. It’s also great for companies with a specific budget as Trevor has flat-rate pricing and offers unlimited ad-hoc data queries, users and dashboards—so there are no hidden costs.
- Simple and powerful no-code query builder
- Unlimited dashboards for users
- Numerous drill-down features
- Encourages and gives answers to simple-to-complex ad-hoc queries
- Supports SQL
- Instant access to new tables or columns for prompt insights
While many BI platforms require you to clean raw data before use, Trevor originally works with raw data, thus doing all the heavy lifting itself. It’s also intuitive and prompt as it gives you instant access to new tables and columns to quickly get the answers you need. Besides, the solution doesn’t have any transformation change, so there’s no data manipulation—only authentic data insights.
Trevor.io offers a generous free tier for its cloud version (no credit card needed), and usage-based pricing once you exceed that, starting at $75 / month. Pricing for the self-hosted version starts at $500 / month and includes enterprise features like SSO, full user audit-logs, and more. You can see the full details on Trevor.io's pricing page.
2. Tableau Server
Tableau Server is one of the leading on-premise BI solutions, courtesy of its easy deployment and reliable data processing. It's a self-hosted and intuitive business intelligence tool that analyses and presents complex data through visualisations, reports, and dashboards where users can organise, edit, share and collaborate on data reports.
Besides, the tool is known for its scalability potential and integration with third-party applications, making it a great data analytics suite.
Who is Tableau Server best suited for?
Tableau Server is ideal for medium to small businesses with an established IT structure. Its ability to create highly interactive data workbooks and visualisations also make it a popular choice among companies.
- Requires little to no technical knowledge
- Natural language query builder with conversational language
- Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
- Auto-refresh functionality for real-time insights
- Integrates data from a wide range of sources, from on-premise to cloud
- Creates real-time data visualisation charts in a few clicks for easy understanding
Tableau Server offers three business intelligence solutions—on-premise, public, and cloud.
Its on-premise version allows you to host it on your own IT infrastructure, on Windows or Linux. The tool gives you complete flexibility to control data access to specific users and is known for little to no maintenance expense, courtesy of an intuitive tool and great support.
Instead of asking you to enter pre-defined queries or chart types—Tableau Server allows you to ask questions from any data source in natural language. Thus, it offers versatility and provides the most accurate insights.
Tableau Server offers a free 14-day plan, after which you can choose from three pricing plans which differ with features and type of user access granted.
- Tableau Creator: This costs $70 per user per month, and every deployment requires at least one creator.
- Tableau Explorer: This costs $42 per user per month and grants limited access to features.
- Tableau Viewer: This costs $15 per user per month and offers very limited feature access.
If you like the sound of Tableau but want to explore how it compares to other options, check out our dedicated guide to Tableau alternatives.
3. PowerBI Report Server
The PowerBI Report Server is the on-premise version of the popular Microsoft Power BI, and interestingly, offers companies the option to shift to the cloud whenever they want. The tool transforms complex collected data into easy-to-understand visualisations for data-driven decision-making and mainly supports report generation.
It has in-built AI capabilities, pre-built and custom data connectors, and tight-knit Excel integrations for simple data presentation. On top of this, PowerBI Report Server also uses industry-leading data security capacities like end-to-end encryption, sensitivity labelling for enhanced protection and accessibility options, and real-time access monitoring.
Who is the PowerBI Report Server best suited for?
PowerBI is best suited for large-scale enterprises already using the Microsoft system and that have more advanced requirements for recording, monitoring, and automating KPIs. It’s also a great fit for fast-growing SMEs with an internal IT infrastructure.
- Natural Language Query tool supports conversational language
- Provides insights from structured and unstructured data like images through machine learning and big data
- Wide range of reporting features like PowerBI Reports, mobile reports, paginated reports, and KPIs
- Ability to view reports and visualisations on mobile devices, a web browser, or email
- Allows you to export reports in different formats for seamless collaboration
The Report Server of Microsoft Power BI is based on SQL Server Reporting Services (SSR) framework, which enables report hosting, sharing, and collaboration behind your firewall, thus providing maximum data protection and security. The tool is also highly interactive and instantly gives access to reports as the data is collected and processed for maximum efficiency.
The PowerBI Report Server is included in the PowerBI Premium Package, which costs $4,995 per month, and doesn’t allow you to purchase the Report Server independently.
4. Metabase (open source)
Metabase is an open-source business intelligence tool that allows everyone in your company to ask data-related questions and learn from data with charts and dashboards. It’s intuitive to use from non-technical users for basic questions to advanced users for complex ones using SQL and notebook editor, which gives you visual joins and multiple aggregators to dig deep into your data.
The tool also allows you to schedule data sharing, so reports reach the right people at the right time to avoid any bottlenecks.
Who’s Metabase best suited for?
Metabase is best suited for startups with non-technical teams, a limited budget for business intelligence, and companies with a single SQL data source.
- User-friendly interface with a minimal learning curve for non-techies
- Allows you to feed data directly into the database to create visualisations through a drag-and-drop dashboard
- Shows suggestions and guidance when you’re creating data visualisations
- Using the Embedded Analytics feature, you can embed interactive analytics and insights into your product for quick development and iteration
- Collaboration features like automated reports, advanced embedding, and interactive dashboards
Metabase is highly versatile for all types of users. It allows non-technical employees to quickly get the answers they need with data visualisations so you can quickly get the insights rather than beat around the bush with SQL. At the same time, if you’re working on something complex and need to do a deep dive into data, you can write your own SQL through the editor.
It’s known to be a great combination of ease of use, speed, and flexibility, which can significantly cut down the time spent searching for data-backed answers through intuitive features.
The Metabase open-source plan is free for all users, beyond which it offers three plans:
- Pro: This plan costs $500 per month and includes 10 users, Single sign-on via SAML, JWT, or advanced LDAP, White labelling, Advanced Embedding, Row-level permissions, and table-level data access audit logs.
- Enterprise: This plan offers customised pricing, which includes everything in the open-source and Pro version along with priority support, invoicing, and annual billing.
5. Looker (customer-hosted)
Looker is a browser-based business intelligence solution that acts as the API for all your data, connects databases, and delivers intuitive customer experiences based on data requirements. This platform is now a part of Google and leverages LookML syntax used by advanced SQL coders for customised queries while providing non-technical users the ease of use of a drag-and-drop interface.
Its browser-based functionality removes the scope of downloading, installing, and maintaining desktop software, contributing to its popularity. Further, the data visualisations and reports generated by the tool are accessible on all devices and can be exported for efficient collaboration.
Who is Looker best suited for?
Looker is ideal for large enterprises with the budget, team, and time to deploy such software. It's also suitable for small to medium enterprises who want to empower their IT teams, leverage the functionality Looker offers, and who don’t want to go through the hassle of maintaining a desktop-based BI software.
- Provides a browser-based BI tool
- Drag-and-drop dashboard creation
- Offers access to real-time reporting and data visualisations across devices
- Includes APIs for integration with third-party applications
- Uses extensible modeling language like LookLM, which defines dimensions and measures to query in-database
- Exports visualisations and reports for effective collaboration
Looker offers powerful reporting features, granular data visualisations, and custom query building with machine learning abilities for advanced data analytics and insights. Thus, it allows data analysts to drive answers from basic to advanced data queries through a semantic model that acts as the single source of truth.
Looker (customer-hosted) offers customised pricing to businesses, depending on the number of users and deployment type.
6. Zoho Analytics on-premise
Zoho Analytics is a self-service business intelligence and analytics solution that offers both— a cloud and on-premise hosting option. The tool uses artificial intelligence to convert and visualise raw data into meaningful insights through interactive reports and insightful dashboards.
It has a drag-and-drop interface for entering data, generating reports and visualisations, and even creating dashboards, making it perfect for non-technical team members. Zoho also connects with a host of data sources and auto-merges data from significant business software or Zoho’s self-service tools to show the right answer to your data query.
Who is Zoho Analytics best suited for?
Zoho Analytics is a great fit for businesses—̉small to large, who want a business intelligence software that has a small learning curve and offers the ability to create interactive reports and comprehensive dashboards with raw data.
- Offers drag-and-drop tools to create reports, dashboards, and visualisations
- Acts as a unified business analytics tools to analyse data across different business applications
- Includes an AI and ML-powered assistant that gives clearly understands queries in natural language
- Requires minimal technical knowledge
- Collects data from a wide variety of data sources
- Provides an exclusive workspace to collaborate on reports and insights
The on-premise version of Zoho Analytics offers 100+ connectors with databases, business apps, and cloud drives, so you get the best and most accurate answer to your data query. It also provides white labelling solutions to embed analytics in other tools and collaborate on reports for more informed and data-driven decision-making.
Zoho on-premise offers a free plan for a single user with 10 tables and 5 workspaces. Beyond this, you can invest in the professional plan, which offers four options based on your hosting server:
- Professional (Local Server):
- Professional (AWS):
- Professional (Azure):
- Professional (Docker):
All these professional plans across hosting platforms offer the same features, including multiple users, unlimited rows, tables and workspaces, logo rebranding, fine-grained access control, and report commenting.
Domo is a self-service BI solution that handles end-to-end data analysis from collecting data through multiple data sources to delivering insights, enabling collaboration, and providing predictive analysis.
This predictive analysis tool doesn’t require any technical knowledge to operate, courtesy of its intuitive and simple drag-and-drop interface to produce and customise data visualisations and dashboards. You can also connect Domo with data across your enterprise and leverage AI and ML to enable everyone in the organisation to explore data on their own.
Overall, it helps organisations convert complex raw data into comprehensive stories, insights, and reports for understanding and use across operations for better results.
Who is Domo best suited for?
Domo is the best fit for enterprises with a qualified IT team who want to automate their business intelligence framework to dig deeper into more meaningful insights through data transformation tools and pre-built cloud connectors.
- Offers drag-and-drop features for data visualisation, transformation, and integration.
- Allows you to export data visualisations in different formats across devices for seamless collaboration.
- Provides access to 100+ pre-built connectors like Excel and Google docs, enabling you to query the data where it’s hosted.
- Get automated visualisation, charts, and reporting suggestions as soon as you upload your data source.
- Leverages a powerful combination of AI, ML, and NLP to get alerts and notifications for significant changes, like in KPI metrics.
Domo has an intuitive mobile interface that allows you to access reports and data visualisations wherever and whenever you want. It also offers integrations with all major business applications and excellent collaboration features, so you don’t just understand and leverage data but also constantly work with your team members to strategise and make the numbers better by triggering actions through the integrations.
Domo offers customised pricing based on several components like number of business users, platform usage, data storage, and volume of data queries.
To make your organisation truly data democratic and enable everyone, from the marketer to the CEO, to understand and use data in their day-to-day operations and decision making—you need a robust business intelligence tool that meets and justifies your data requirements.
Without this, you’ll end up with an overworked engineer or data analyst and bottlenecks in decision making, causing delays in processes.
Use this article to create your eligibility list for a BI tool and assess the top on-premise tools to check which meets your data needs in the best way.