- Learn what a data warehouse is
- Learn how your organization can use a data warehouse to drive critical business decisions and gain a competitive edge over your competitors
- Understand the features you should look for when deciding on a data warehouse solution
- Learn how to compare these features in terms of cost and usability
- Get to know the most popular solutions available in the market today according to our criteria.
If you’re curious about what a data warehouse is or what advantages this technological solution can offer your organization, this post is for you. We will explain what a data warehouse is, and how your organization can use a data warehouse to drive critical business decisions and gain a competitive edge over your competitors. Then, we’ll discuss features you should look for when deciding on a data warehouse solution, and explain how to compare these features in terms of cost and usability. Finally, we’ll look at the most popular solutions available in the market today, and analyze them against our criteria.
What Is a Data Warehouse?
Simply put, a data warehouse is a one-stop-shop for all data generated by your organization and functions as a source for data analysis. Operational systems (sales, inventory, and finance) upload their data to a central repository, where it. may be cleaned, correlated, and transformed before being loaded into the data repository that forms the foundation of the data warehouse.
Once added to the data warehouse, the data may be further cataloged and indexed before being available to managers and data analysts. Organizations use automated and manual processes to extract data sets. Businesses can use these datasets to build reports, or provide the models used by machine learning algorithms to predict future trends. A data warehouse is the core component of your organization’s business intelligence activities.
Components of an Effective Data Warehouse Solution
Given the importance of a data warehouse solution for accomplishing your organizational objectives, let’s explore the different components of an effective data warehouse solution, and the essential qualities you need to consider in choosing one. Because each organization has different needs and requirements, you should not consider this an exhaustive list, but instead think of it as a baseline for getting started.
Ease of Use
While the price may be a decisive factor in selecting a solution, licensing and setup fees only tell half the story. If the solution you choose isn’t easy to use, you will spend significantly more in training and consulting over the project’s life. Ideally, you want an intuitive and relatively easy solution to connect with your company’s existing data sources.
As with many enterprise solutions, the price of a data warehouse solution is composed of many different factors. There is the initial setup cost, and if it’s an enterprise solution, you may need to pay license fees based on the number of uses and size of the data source. Data storage costs will increase over time as more and more data is housed in your data warehouse. You’ll also need to consider data transfer fees, support costs, and consulting fees for any third-party experts who you need to engage to ensure the project’s success.
As your business grows, the quantity of data that it generates grows with it – and consequently, so will the size of your data warehouse. You’ll want to make sure that the solution you select can scale alongside your business, and that users continue to receive performant access to the data it contains.
All systems can experience problems. Whether they’re as simple as requiring new integrations, or as complex as a catastrophic failure, it helps to have a support plan in place. You should factor support costs into your pricing decision, and you will also want to be sure that the provider you choose has an established reputation for fast and comprehensive support in case you need it.
Your data warehouse needs to integrate with many disparate source systems to ingest data and make that same data available to reporting tools, machine learning systems, and other business intelligence solutions. Make sure that your data warehouse solution supports a wide range of integrations, including everything required for your current ecosystem.
Data Security and Governance
Given the comprehensive nature of the data that your data warehouse will hold, you must protect it from malicious actors both inside and outside of your organization. Strict and well-managed access control policies will ensure the safety of your data. A comprehensive auditing system will tell you who accessed which datasets, and when.
With these factors in mind, let’s explore the most popular data warehouse systems available in 2022, and why they are worth considering if you think about a new data warehouse initiative. You can also configure many of these solutions to work together, drawing on different features for a hybrid solution to meet your unique business needs.
Xplenty is a cloud-based data warehouse solution for companies specializing in data warehouse technology. Xplenty provides users with a tool to visualize and design the ingress data pipelines to help integrate all of your data sources. The Xplenty product has integrations with most leading data providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Heroku, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Airtable, Github, and Slack, to name just a few. Xplenty is an industry leader in Export, Transform & Load (ETL) technologies and is easily paired with other data sources to store the ingested data.
Redshift from Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud-based data warehouse that can support everything from a couple of hundred gigabytes of data to a petabyte of data and more. Redshift differentiates itself by being highly cost-effective and highly configurable. Redshift integrates well with other AWS products, such as S3, AWS AI and ML services, and third-party tools.
As with other AWS products, a key benefit of Redshift is that you only pay for the resources you provision, and those resources are highly configurable and easily scalable.
IBM Infosphere is a comprehensive solution that combines first-class ETL technologies with a scalable data warehouse solution. The solution also includes best-in-class data governance and management. Infosphere specializes in providing hybrid solutions for data warehousing that help you avoid lock-in with any of the leading cloud providers. Their hybrid approach also allows you to host your warehouse in a configuration that includes the public cloud and your on-prem data center. Their warehouse technology ensures that workloads are matched with the right platform to maximize performance and minimize costs.
Informatica, founded in 1993, is a well-respected and reputable data warehouse solutions provider. Informatica offers a simple tiered cost structure, which might be more expensive than Redshift, but can help you forecast costs better. Informatica targets midsize to large companies and includes features like desktop client tools. It also integrates well with many external systems and offers information lifecycle management.
Teradata is another industry leader in the data warehouse solutions industry and serves organizations like the American Red Cross, Lufthansa, and the NHL. A distinguishing feature of their solution is that it categorizes data as either hot or cold. Hot data is frequently accessed and optimized for faster access, while cold data is not accessed as frequently. Teradata’s key focuses are data analytics and marketing, and it aims to provide users with a simple yet effective tool to analyze data.
While the providers listed here represent some of the top solutions in 2022, the data warehouse space is highly competitive. Many industry leaders are battling to innovate and improve data warehouse solutions for their customers. You may also want to consider Google, Microsoft, and Oracle.
A data warehouse is essential to the success of your organization, so you should carefully analyze and consider the options. Your new data warehouse will be a significant investment; however, when executed well, the data that it can provide will give your organization a competitive edge for years to come.