If you haven’t made up your mind yet about self-hosted web analytics, it’s high time to go for it. The key arguments in favor of such a deployment are control and security, which are valuable commodities in your marketing strategy.
In practice, it means that you know where your data is stored, how it’s handled and who gets hold of it. This is because you keep the data on your own servers. In this way, you avoid the risk of sharing data with third parties. With on-premises infrastructure you also gain better efficiency, scalability and support.
But that’s just the beginning. In this post we will fill in the details about why self-hosted analytics takes the cake. We know that every business has its own unique needs. Still, certain qualities and functionalities that come with this particular deployment are a prerequisite for every company.
First of all, like we’ve already mentioned, if you go for on-premises deployment you can keep an eye on the collected data. It’s stored and processed on your own servers, or on ones you carefully choose. For the companies that operate within the healthcare, government or banking sectors, or any other that deals with potentially sensitive data, security is of paramount importance.
These are the considerations that drive multinational enterprises to adopt self-hosted web analytics deployment. What’s more, this model appeals to such organizations because it helps you be fully compliant with data privacy regulations from jurisdictions around the world. This is crucial when we remember that growing concern for safe data handling is leading to big changes in international legislation. Your company can’t afford to neglect these regulations.
Also consider that when you collect and process the data of residents of certain European Union countries, it’s strongly recommended to store that data on servers located within the EU. Additionally, there are countries like China or Russia that prohibit storing their citizens’ personal data at all, unless it’s kept within their territory.
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To be compliant with all the different local privacy laws, you need to take charge of your data and its storage. There are analytics vendors that give you that power: for example, with Piwik PRO hosting you get 100% data ownership and full control over it, which ensures the required level of safety.
However, if you’re managing a high-traffic website, you might need to extend the on-premises infrastructure. Thankfully, you can rely on a cloud without putting your data at risk. This is possible using the hybrid architecture of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Depending on your technical requirements and needs, you can host your analytics on AWS and still retain 100% data ownership with full security.
What’s more, while it is a cloud deployment, you know where your data is stored. AWS servers are located in Beijing, Frankfurt, and many other cities around the globe.
Making the decision to deploy self-hosted web analytics software brings many challenges with implementation, setup and future upgrades.
The support you can get to address such issues depends on your web analytics vendor. Chances are, the right provider will take care of all your worries. Certainly you’ve got a lot of alternatives: you can go for self-support and take care of everything within your own IT department, or choose full cooperation with the analytics vendor’s system administrators.
Bear in mind that whether you choose self-hosting, cloud or hybrid deployment like with AWS, you should be able to reach out to your web analytics provider for assistance and get help when you need it.
First and foremost, you can get a dedicated coordinator who knows your requirements and stays alert for potential issues. This is the model offered by some vendors like Piwik PRO. You can also count on additional help with onboarding. This means that you provide all the necessary details like traffic volume and whether you need a single server or multi server. After we analyze it, we give you a list of the requirements you need to meet, such as:
- CPU cores
- HDD space
In this way your setup is precisely adjusted to your specific needs, and you can be sure that the software will handle the expected traffic. Moreover, you won’t have experience nagging worries about maintenance tasks and finding solutions for critical situations.
Once you know how to satisfy the technical needs of your platform, you can then make use of professional training to give you know-how and teach you to manage your software.
If you settle on a hybrid architecture with AWS, you can choose two ways of granting access to your serves. The first one means you provide the analytics vendor with an account to access the servers. As a result, the support team can log in and maintain the software, doing things like configuration changes and hotfixes in codebase.
The second one involves creating special access accounts on AWS for the support team. This solution will definitely spare you a lot of hassle, as you don’t need to worry about server management. Support includes:
- scaling up
- scaling down
- dynamic resource allocation
- database configuration
Also, forget about backups as AWS takes care of them by design.
Of course, you can decide to rely on your IT department and choose the self-support option. In practice, this means that you set up and manage your infrastructure based on documentation provided by your web analytics vendor.
The level and scope of support depends heavily on the SLA you sign, but it’s always good to know what options are available to you. In the first place, full assistance comes with a dedicated coordinator, someone who knows your business and keeps up with new issues. This person is your point of contact for all necessary information. This improves communication and speeds up problem-solving.
Moreover, you can also take advantage of the Support Portal. When a problem arises, you can submit a help ticket right away. The issue is recorded in reports, which helps you see the bigger picture.
What’s more, this assistance also includes monitoring services, which facilitate communication between your servers and your vendor’s, for instance Piwik PRO. This lets the support team make sure that everything is running smoothly. It also sets off alarms if something goes wrong, for instance when:
- traffic suddenly drops
- some task is not performed
- the application doesn’t respond for a long time
In the case of traffic volume, you can trace memory fill-up and use of available storage place or processing power. All in all, monitoring allows you to keep an eye the present state of affairs, and when you hit some bumps in the road you can act upon them immediately.
Whether you opt for self-hosting or another deployment model, the support you get helps you find ad hoc solutions to the most burning issues, offers useful business cases and professional advice.
Tracking doesn’t just apply to the internet. Your internal digital workspace could also benefit from careful examination. If you set your mind on self-hosting deployment for your web analytics, this makes your intranet tracking setup a lot easier.
Firstly, there’s no need to send a request to any external servers. Nothing goes beyond the firewall as everything stays within a closed network. It goes without saying that different vendors will provide you with different functionalities. That said, if you decide to host your analytics on Piwik PRO servers you can integrate your software with SharePoint as well.
In certain circumstances, information on your employees’ behavior and activities can’t be stored in the cloud. This might result from internal regulations, or as a matter of security and privacy as well. For those who are sceptical about encrypted cloud deployment, on-premises hosting might be a perfect option.
In addition, if you integrate your analytics software with SharePoint, you can easily paste tracking code into any site of your choice. That gives you a good degree of flexibility and makes your internal web tracking more efficient.
Needless to say, the capacity of every infrastructure has its limitations. The deployment of your web analytics software should be precisely adjusted to your technical requirements, but it also depends on the traffic your website generates. This, in turn, it influences how fast you can get your reports and translate your data into actionable steps.
Whether your business requires high-performance environments, high-availability environments, or both, your self-hosted web analytics platform will need setup on multiple servers. Also, you need to make sure that you have a sufficient amount of CPU cores and RAM to handle data collection, storage, and processing.
That’s why it’s worth considering a vendor that will spare you a lot of trouble by ensuring on-demand scaling. For instance, clients of Piwik PRO can take advantage of AWS’ efficient scalability to support high-performing sites.
With AWS, you can scale your server’s capacities with just a few clicks to add or remove new machines depending on the current situation. Even in the case of rapid traffic drops or surges, you can easily manage scaling capabilities to manage costs.
For your analytics reports to be precise and in-depth, you need a full set of data and not just samples. This can be achieved with self-hosting analytics, which allows you to track a site user through their entire visit. Having access to precise and detailed reports helps you make informed decisions and devise the right strategy.
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All things considered, self-hosted analytics deployment offers some considerable benefits. We have discussed the most prominent ones. We know that responsible data collection, processing across both inter- and intranet, flexible scalability, and complete support from qualified specialists should constitute the total package. If you would like to know what else you can consider before making your final decision, take a look at one more post about the self-hosted web analytics.
We understand that the matter is complex and you may need more details, which we will provide soon, but for now you can reach out to us and get answers to your questions.