How you store and manage your data is critically important to modern business. Organisations are increasingly looking to data & analytics to drive business value – and as they do, the need to effectively handle large-scale datasets takes on ever more importance.
Traditional, ‘on premise’ data warehouses can be inflexible, technically demanding and expensive to develop and maintain. Building and implementing changes can be a long, drawn out process that only shows benefits once the project is nearing completion.
By contrast, cloud-based solutions dramatically cut the need for infrastructure investments, scale to suit your needs, enabling you to start projects without such a large CapEx outlay.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the benefits that cloud data warehouses bring, and why you should be using one.
Building data warehouses in the Cloud offers a level of flexibility that would be unthinkable with non-cloud solutions. Not only can businesses now mix and match basic and advanced features to suite their individual needs; they can do so at a fractional initial cost, and at a moment’s notice. This paradigm has drastically reduced the cost burden for organisations with less resources, who still need to effectively store, access and analyse data.
Cloud services generally operate under a pay as you go model, meaning that businesses only pay for features and services that they actually need, and actually use. For example, the storage and compute requirements of a data warehouse occurs in bursts: certain time periods may see drastic spikes in processing needs and ever-increasing storage requirements. Historically this led to businesses to build infrastructure that could cope with high-demand periods – even if this hardware would go under used for the rest of the time.
In contrast to these long-term investments based on projected needs and peak periods, flexible cloud solutions allow storage and compute power to be scaled up or down to suit the immediate dynamics of a shifting need.
Furthermore, managing resources, adding services, or scaling existing ones can all be handled independently through accessible, user-friendly interfaces. These interfaces give you an overview of what resources you’re using and the flexibility to rapidly increase, or ‘burst’ computational resources to meet the requirements a short-term projects or events.
Modern businesses need to dynamically adapt and innovate with increasing speed. When businesses need accommodate new data streams or increases in data volume, they need to do it fast. The ability to add, remove, trial or modify data solutions without making expensive and time-consuming hardware investments is a key factor in the growing popularity of cloud-based data storage.
Agile development using on-premise data storage options can be a particular challenge, as the business must determine the maximum size of compute and storage requirements for the lifetime of the data warehouse and purchase that equipment at the very beginning of the development cycle, for multiple environments.
Cloud data warehouses are a great option for businesses that want to speed up the deployment of projects or to trial a variety of use-cases. They also free up internal resources – IT can step away from the responsibilities of building and maintaining on-premise servers, and instead focus on big picture strategic goals that drive business value.
3. Robust and Recoverable
An essential benefit of a cloud data warehouse is its built-in robustness and recoverability. As data increasingly becomes a core pillar of the business structure, the availability and reliability of that data takes on new levels of importance.
With cloud data warehouses, the provider guarantees that your mission critical information assets are almost always available, and that any downtime is kept to the absolute minimum. Should disaster strike, cloud data warehouses also provide redundancy and failover to ensure the integrity of your data. Of course, these options for disaster recovery can be independently managed remotely, letting you deal directly with any problems and recover your data quickly.
Data is a valuable asset, but it can also become a liability if not properly safeguarded. Traditionally, on-premise data warehouses were considered the most secure option for storing data – however, this is rapidly changing.
Providers of cloud services have made cyber security a central concern and now offer robust security options such as encryption of data both in transit and at rest, data masking, and around-the-clock safety monitoring. Many organisations that handle highly sensitive customer or patient data now opt for cloud solutions as the safest option for housing information.
Keeping data safe is not just about guarding against external risk but also governing who can access your data and how they can utilise it. Cloud platforms offer a wide range of tools for setting and monitoring policies around data governance – such as identity and access management, two factor authentication, single sign-on and more.
Cloud data warehouses can also simplify issues around security compliance as many providers, in particular Microsoft’s Azure, offer the in-built security accreditations that are essential to many industries.
5. Developments/Maintenance and Improvements
Maintaining traditional data warehouses requires on going developments and improvements. Given the rate of technological advancement, this can mean that purchased hardware and even software is rapidly outdated or even obsolete.
For smaller, mid-size organisations, using the cloud for data warehousing offer access to cutting-edge hardware and software that will always keep pace with competitors.
Cloud data warehouse providers strive to offer their customers the latest innovations. When coupled with the inherent flexibility of cloud services, this means organisations of all sizes can easily trial these new features with zero risk.
Transitioning to a cloud data warehouse can significantly reduce the financial burden and time resources associated with maintaining and upgrading hardware. Instead, the business can focus how their data can be used to drive innovation and value.
Cloud based data warehouses have revolutionised the way organisations store, access, and build upon their data. High powered solutions that previously required large-scale infrastructure investments are now accessible to businesses of every size. Features can be turned on at the flick of a switch and new functionality can be tested conveniently whilst keeping a tight control over costs. Capabilities that were traditionally only accessible to larger, enterprise organisations are now available to organisations of all sizes.
This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.
Weelin is the creator of the TrueCue Platform, and Chief Product Officer, having worked in the data and analytics industry for the last 20 years. In that time, he has delivered numerous large and small-scale BI and data and analytics platforms across a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, media and energy.