Are Those Data Clouds on the Horizon?

scrofts - 3 minute(s) read.

So, would you ever even consider putting a data warehouse in the cloud?

With the cloud’s huge capacity, quick deployments and high availability—all at really low costs—it’s hard to ignore the possibilities. Ever since the iOLAP management team told me we were new integration partners with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Redshift platform, I have been thinking about the cloud-based data warehouse concept.

Are we getting close to cloud-based data warehouses?  Yes, and actually have been for some time.  There are multiple cloud infrastructure service providers that offer the ability to launch and run virtual servers in the cloud.  Self-service access to on-demand computing and storage resources has become a real solution for many applications, including the ones in our business intelligence and data warehousing space.  I now think consumers and corporate IT folks are getting more and more comfortable with their data in the cloud.

From what I have seen, Redshift seems to have really lit a fire under the marketplace.  As in any new paradigm in technology, it is often lead with higher capacity, increased efficiencies and lower costs. All of those things are market catalysts.

In a May 22, 2013, blog (www.allthingsdistributed) by Werner Vogels, CTO for Amazon.com, he said the following, Since we launched [Redshift], we’ve been adding over a hundred customers a week and are well over a thousand today. That’s pretty stunning. As far as I know, it’s unprecedented for this space. We’ve enabled our customers to save tens of millions of dollars in up front capital expenses by using Amazon Redshift.

It’s tough to just shrug your shoulders and ignore that.  He also added this interesting thought in that same blog, “It’s clear that Amazon Redshift’s message of price, performance and simplicity has resonated with our customers. That’s no surprise – these are core principles for every AWS service. But when we launched Amazon Redshift, a number of people asked me, ‘Aren’t data warehouses enterprise products? Do you really do enterprise? How do you handle availability, security, and integration?’ My first reaction to that was, ‘Wait, doesn’t everybody care about these things? These aren’t enterprise-specific.’ But, even if we accept that framing, we don’t have to limit ourselves to the enterprise. A lot of the power of AWS comes from the fact that we can invest in expertise in these sorts of areas and spread the benefits across all our customers.”

    Cloud Data Warehouse Benefits

  • Fewer Data Constraints.  Your data warehouse is no longer constrained as an isolated data repository and reporting system that sometimes led to BI and Analytics systems being locked into a data silo.  If done correctly, the cloud data warehouse allows the IT department to support various user groups from a single platform.
  • Reduced Costs.  As you plan a new or enhanced data warehouse infrastructure, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on capacity planning and a big up-front software and hardware capital expense.  It’s a pay-as-you-go deal and at a much lower cost-per-terabyte.
  • Rapid Deployment.  Less expensive pay-as-you-go pricing allows you to focus on developing, testing, and delivering even small BI and Analytics projects that show tremendous return on investment (ROI) that in turn fuel new, focused projects.
  • Peak Workload Performance.  No need to engineer your ecosystem for expected peak workloads.  Real-time and even automatic resource provisioning can help you properly and economically deal with the unplanned and unforeseen demands of many BI and Analytics projects.

These ideas represent a few of the key opportunities for consideration by cloud-based BI and Data Warehousing professionals.

The good news is that many companies are now successfully solving the architecture and implementation issues, building and managing cloud analytics services, and seeing significantly reduced costs. The benefits can be significant: low up-front capital cost, low operational expense, and flexibility to quickly scale up and down to meet varying demands.

Like many things in technology, it’s hard to predict what will happen.  Will cloud-based data warehousing and analytics replace today’s traditional environments OR will the primary vendor market begin to embrace the new systems and morph into various hybrid variants?  Time will tell.