Cloud Data Warehousing – What are the Pros & Cons?

A data warehouse is an electronic system that gathers data from a wide range of sources within a company and uses the data to support management decision-making. However, what are the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?

‘Panoply’ is a cloud data warehouse and management service. They explain that:

“Companies are increasingly moving towards cloud-based data warehouses instead of traditional on premise systems. Cloud-based data warehouses differ from traditional warehouses in the following ways:

  • There is no need to purchase physical hardware.
  • It’s quicker and cheaper to set up and scale cloud data warehouses.
  • Cloud-based data warehouse architectures can typically perform complex analytical queries much faster because they use massively parallel processing (MPP).”

However, how does your company decide if this investment is right for you?

Ever since the development of cloud technology, one option that you have had is to replace local backup methods with off-site, cloud storage. With this or any kind of platform, there are advantages and disadvantages that should be considered in determining if cloud storage is compatible with your company’s Information Technology’s infrastructure.

With that in mind, Grace Halverson (IT Pro) states that there are four business benefits of cloud data warehousing:

“1: Cloud data warehousing meets current and future needs

Flexibility is an important factor of cloud data warehousing. Organisations will have the ability to scale compute and storage independently, pending the company’s needs. So, if a business needs more storage today, they won’t also be forced to add more compute. But if their situation changes in the future, they can adjust however needed.

2: Data is accommodated and integrated in one place

With the help of data analytics, semi-structured data has the capability to provide next-level insights beyond what traditional data can provide. But semi-structured data must be loaded and transformed before an organisation can analyse it—this is a process most traditional data warehouses can’t handle, but one that cloud data warehouses can. This ability to support diverse data without performance issues ensures all an organisation’s data can be loaded and integrated in one location. This not only increases flexibility, but it also means all data can be managed and maintained in one system, reducing costs.

3: Cloud data warehousing saves money

Between licensing fees, hardware, set-up, management, securing and backing up data, and more, conventional data warehouses can cost millions. Not to mention building one that can hold the variety and volume required by today’s standards ups the cost even more. However, using cloud data warehousing as a service (as it is commonly used today) can cut costs significantly, while keeping all the same features. Relying on service providers to maintain systems and only purchasing the amount of support needed helps organisations stretch their budgets further and avoid paying for unnecessary features.

4: Data is secured at rest and in transit

An important aspect to analysing and storing data is keeping that data safe. In addition to the use of vendor-conducted penetration tests to check for vulnerabilities in the system, modern data warehouses do this through confidentiality and integrity measures. Confidentiality practices prevent unauthorised access to data, and are usually done through role-based access control, which only allows those permitted to access the data to do so, and multi-factor authentication, which requires users to enter a code (usually one sent to a mobile phone) and ensures a stolen username and password can’t be used to access the system. Integrity measures guarantee data isn’t modified or corrupted, and entails the use of encryption practices and encryption keys to protect data from “unauthorised prying eyes.”

The data warehouse ‘Snowflake’, is a leading cloud provider in this most competitive field. They offer warehouse solutions offering a new SQL database engine with a unique architecture designed for the cloud. To the user, Snowflake has many similarities to other enterprise data warehouses, but their claims are for additional functionality and unique capabilities.

Wow, this sounds wonderful, what’s not to like. Mmmmm, not so fast, things in life are rarely black and white, but manifest themselves in shades of grey. Therefore, on the flip-side, what are the disadvantages of Cloud Storage?

  1. Usability: Be careful when using drag/drop to move a document into the cloud storage folder. This will permanently move your document from its original folder to the cloud storage location. Do a copy and paste instead of drag/drop if you want to retain the document’s original location in addition to moving a copy onto the cloud storage folder.
  2. Bandwidth: Several cloud storage services have a specific bandwidth allowance. If an organization surpasses the given allowance, the additional charges could be significant. However, some providers allow unlimited bandwidth. This is a factor that companies should consider when looking at a cloud storage provider.
  1. Accessibility: If you have no internet connection, you have no access to your data.
  1. Data Security: There are concerns with the safety and privacy of important data stored remotely. The possibility of private data commingling with other organizations makes some businesses uneasy.
  2. Software: If you want to be able to manipulate your files locally through multiple devices, you’ll need to download the service on all devices.” (Baiju NT, Big Data Made Simple)

Do the advantages cancel out the disadvantages, in your opinion?

In summary, weighing up all these factors, what is the final analysis for your company? Only your managers and ultimately your directors, can decide.

Amy Pritchett writing in Compare the Cloud, concludes:

“Despite concerns about the security of cloud storage, many businesses see that the cost savings, accessibility and disaster recovery are more valuable than the associated risks. Cloud storage is certainly here to stay for some time and worth considering for your company’s infrastructure and budget.

Confused? Don’t be. There is much knowledge, information and advice out there. Do your research, weigh up the pros and cons, there could be advantages for your company.

There is no such confusion at whichwarehouse.

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