What’s a Cloud Data Warehouse?

Storing Data: An Introduction

Once upon a time, businesses relied on physical services and repositories to store all their vital data. Not only did this require a huge amount of upkeep and a number of specialized, trained professionals to keep these warehouses running smoothly, but it also had many disadvantages, including a lack of convenience and less-secure environments. It was obvious that companies needed a different approach. 

Enter the cloud data warehouse. This model can transform your business with a state-of-the-art solution for keeping your data safe, secure, and accessible. There are numerous platforms for that in the market, such as:

  • Amazon Redshift
  • Google BigQuery
  • Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse
  • Teradata Vantage
  • Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • SAP Data Warehouse Cloud
  • IBM Db2 Warehouse
  • Snowflake

You can also turn to a custom-built cloud data warehouse solution, created by software development providers like BairesDev.

What's a Cloud Data Warehouse? 6

Cloud data warehouse architecture

Leaving the traditional, on-premises data warehouses behind doesn’t just imply accessing data through the cloud without having to worry about infrastructure. It also means a shift in data warehouse architectures. Since data storage needs driving this change are getting more complex, it’s only natural that the architecture of modern data warehouses change as well.

One of the more common approaches to on-premises data warehouse architecture is the 3-tier architecture, which includes bottom, middle, and top layers. The bottom tier contains the server with the databases, the middle tier has a server for online analytical processing (OLAP) that transforms the data, and the top tier is akin to the user interface layer. 

While that model works perfectly for the on-premises data warehouse, it doesn’t reflect what happens with cloud data warehouses. There are different approaches to architecture in cloud warehousing depending on the provider you’re considering. However, all major players in the cloud data warehousing sector use an architecture that leverages massive parallel processing.

That means that they use a series of nodes or machines to quickly process even the most complex of queries. So, rather than having the limit of an OLAP layer, the architecture relies on multiple nodes that can provide incredible processing power to the point where they can even work with data streaming for real-time results.

What's a Cloud Data Warehouse? 7

Cloud Data Warehouse: A Definition

Simply put, a data warehouse is a repository for all data and analytics at your organization. The warehouse was created to accommodate huge amounts of data. Traditionally speaking, a data warehouse was an on-site, hardware-based, physical resource located at an office or work setting. 

Unfortunately, hardware-based physical data warehouses have some serious disadvantages, such as limited storage and steep costs. But with cloud data warehouses, many of those downsides are addressed.

As you might imagine from the name, a cloud data warehouse is a cloud-based storage model. While some businesses still use the traditional model, more and more organizations are turning to the cloud-based alternative to meet their needs.

In it, the database is managed on a public cloud. It functions in a similar way to the traditional model, except that it’s not a physical structure — it’s a digital one that’s handled remotely and can be accessed from practically any location. 

One of the main purposes of the cloud-based system is to deliver up-to-date data analytics, allowing businesses to derive meaningful insights from it. For that to happen, the warehouse must be integrated with your current software systems. In other words, the information must be constantly fed into the repository to keep it updated and refreshed. If you successfully do so, you’ll be able to access data you may not have previously even known existed.

Ultimately, a cloud data warehouse offers numerous capabilities and modernizations that the traditional data warehouse simply doesn’t have.

Benefits of Cloud Data Warehouses

So, why are businesses increasingly choosing cloud data warehouses over the older model?
Here are some of the many reasons.
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    It Provides Ample Amount of Storage
    A traditional data warehouse is limited in storage capacity by nature. But with a cloud-based solution, you have practically unlimited space. Do you need even more storage? It’s easy to scale your warehouse up — without even having to buy new repositories or equipment.
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    You’ll Get Time Back for Your Business
    The traditional data warehouse requires extensive upkeep and management from experts. But a cloud-based alternative is far easier to manage, giving you time back to focus on more pressing concerns. Moreover, you’ll be able to derive meaningful insights from your cloud data warehouse that you can use to better run your business.
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    You’ll Ramp Up Your Security
    All of your software and technology demands extensive cybersecurity protection. A cloud data warehouse provides you with this critical security, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that your data is well protected in a virtual environment. Besides, as data warehouses are supported by third-party providers, you can rest assured that they’ll do the proper maintenance and updates to keep the systems running with the latest security technologies.
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    You’ll Have Access to Real-Time Analytics
    The cloud data warehouse integrates with your other software and technological systems, which feed data into the repository. That means it’s generating actionable analytics in real-time — giving you and your data team a means of using the information and reports it gives you immediately.
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    Performance Is Optimal
    How do you get those analytics in real-time? It’s because of the performance of this repository. Performance is ultra-high, meaning you’ll get results extremely quickly, especially compared with the more traditional — and considerably slower — model.
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    Pricing Is Flexible
    There are many different models and ways to pay for your cloud-based warehouse, and you can choose the one that best fits your needs. For example, you might pay for the amount of data you’re storing, and the rate will increase if you need more room. Or, you can choose a subscription service. Either way, the options are usually cost-effective, and you won’t have to pay for the hardware involved.
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    Updates Occur Automatically
    There is no need for specialist intervention to institute upgrades and updates to your cloud data warehouse. Instead, updates occur automatically, adding a much-needed layer of convenience to your busy life.
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    You Can Give Access to People in Multiple Locations
    A chief reason why a cloud data warehouse is so beneficial to users is the fact that it is accessible to people in locations around the globe, as they only need an internet connection and access credentials. This is a far cry from the traditional data warehouse, which is only accessible from its central, on-site location.
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    Cloud Data Warehouses Accommodate Many Different Types of Data
    Different types of data specialists, such as data scientists and data analysts, have variable needs for their data. Fortunately, you’ll be able to accommodate these many needs with a cloud data warehouse. That’s because the warehouse provides a range of information in different formats and structures.

The cloud data warehouse is an innovation that is transforming the nature of data analytics and actionable business insights in the modern age. Can your business afford to fall behind?

If you’re ready to usher your organization into the 21st century’s rapidly evolving digital age, turn to BairesDev. We can help you with your cloud computing solutions, no matter what your business size, type, or specialty, enabling you to incorporate the most modern advances.

Cloud Data Warehouse Pros and Cons

Moving your data warehouse to the cloud comes with significant benefits but that doesn’t exempt you from a few disadvantages. Knowing about the 2 will allow you to make a better decision regarding whether cloud data warehouses are right for you or not.

Cloud Data Warehouse Pros

  • Flexibility

Cloud-based data warehouses allow you to scale computing power and storage quickly, easily, and according to your needs. 

  • Support for diverse data 

Cloud warehouses can store unstructured, semi-structured, and structured data in one place without sacrificing performance while streamlining access.

  • Increased security

Cloud warehouses are often tested through penetration testing to make sure that there aren’t exploitable vulnerabilities. Additionally, these platforms use role-based access control and multi-factor authentication combined with encryption to provide greater security across the board.

  • Cost efficiency

Given that you don’t need to maintain, update, and manage your own data warehouse, moving to the cloud can help you save a considerable amount of money without you losing access to crucial features.

Cloud Data Warehouse Cons

  • Bandwidth limits

Several cloud providers set strict limits for bandwidth, which forces you to be very vigilant about your data use—or risk getting charged with additional fees for surpassing those limits.

  • Potential accessibility issues

Cloud data warehouses need a working internet connection at all times to guarantee access to data. That can constitute a problem when the internet connection hits bottlenecks or encounters issues.

  • Threatened privacy

Even with all the work cloud providers do to make their clients’ data safe, there’s always the possibility of data being leaked or accidentally accessed by other users in the same servers.

Cloud Data Warehouse Companies

Offering stable, robust, secure, and high-quality cloud data warehousing services isn’t precisely easy. Providers need a well-developed infrastructure with an elite architecture that guarantees performance, availability, and security at all times. That’s why most businesses in need of cloud data warehousing pick one of the 4 major cloud data warehouse companies:

  • Amazon Redshift: Runs highly complex queries of large amounts of structured data. 

  • Google BigQuery: RESTful service that manages and queries data and that works with any language built with the REST API. 

  • Microsoft Azure:  Solution that leverages Microsoft’s vast network of nodes and data centers to build, test, deploy and manage applications and services. 

  • SnowflakeDB: SQL data warehouse that supports all data types and seamlessly integrates ETL and BI tools.

Who shouldn’t use cloud warehouses?

As cloud data warehousing becomes more common and their capabilities keep increasing, a lot of people are saying that everyone should be using them. The reasoning behind this is simple: why spend a lot of money, time, and effort in building and maintaining an on-premise warehouse when you can access a superior option for a competitive price?

While that logic holds some truth to it, the reality is that cloud warehouses aren’t free from issues. There are a few disadvantages when using cloud warehouses, namely:

  • Vendor lock-in risk:  Relying entirely on a single provider can quickly turn into a headache if you decide to switch companies in the future. There might be technical and financial barriers that might make the transition difficult. Additionally, you concentrate all your data on a single point, which can suffer outages or attacks that trigger massive disruptions for your operations.

  • Lack of control:  Data breaches are always a possibility and cloud warehouses aren’t exempt from them. Naturally, cloud warehousing providers have robust systems and are constantly monitoring for threats but the possibilities of losing control over your data when you send it over the internet are always there. 

  • Unreliable connections:  Working with cloud providers means you’ll need access to stable internet connections to guarantee your operations. While outages are becoming rare, they do happen and can completely derail your business when they do. 

Business leaders that don’t feel comfortable with these risks should consider an alternative to complete reliance on cloud warehouses.

Does that mean they should forget about them? No.

Cloud warehouses are a strategic asset right now, so leaving them aside can be more harmful than anything else. In this case, it’s always best to consider using a hybrid cloud warehousing approach that combines in-house and cloud-based resources.

BairesDev cloud data warehouse consulting

Navigating the many alternatives and possibilities of cloud data warehouse services can be daunting. There are multiple factors to consider, from the providers to the integration with your own ecosystem and more. Fortunately, you can access BairesDev cloud data warehouse consulting services to help you sort any doubt you might have.

Our cloud data warehouse experts can help you understand the current cloud warehousing landscape, pinpoint your specific needs, develop a strategic plan around them, and help you with the integration of any provider you choose. We are backed by years of experience in cloud data warehousing consulting, as we’ve helped numerous companies make the most out of this powerful technology.

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