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How to Choose the Right Data Warehouse for Your Business?

Business

May 6, 2022 - 4 minute read

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Rafał Imielski Content Marketing Specialist

He has two years’ experience in copywriting, translation and proofreading. His goal is to help people communicate in a concise and understandable way. Rafał is an archaeology graduate who’s fascinated by both prehistoric and modern technologies. 

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Data warehousing is not a new concept, but many organisations still have room to grow in this area. According to Statista, only 2% of the data generated by companies is collected and analysed. Much of the remaining 98% represents the business value being lost because of insufficient data practices within organisations. A fit-for-purpose data warehouse is a crucial tool for accessing this value.

However, as every organisation is unique, so are their needs regarding the data warehouse. In essence, a data warehouse is most often the central element of an organisation’s data architecture. Companies use them to store and aggregate data from multiple sources, to later easily locate and analyse the relevant data. While the general objective often is similar, the specific use cases may vary significantly. Ensuring that your data warehouse matches your organisational needs and is optimised for your most common or most critical use cases is the key to success.

What to Consider When Investing in a Data Warehouse

In this article, we’re going to cover the most important considerations when investing in a data warehouse. Unsurprisingly, these areas will often affect each other, and striking the right balance between them is the most difficult part of the decision process. To help you, we’ll highlight the most important differentiating factors and explain how they relate to the business goals.

Data Strategy

Make sure your vision is in line with your company’s data strategy. Aligning with the data strategy is crucial to guarantee that your data warehouse is not a ‘temporary fix’ but rather something that will bring definitive, measurable value, and can be sustainably managed to remain relevant. Here, you’ll have to map your desired business outcomes to processes and the data that drives them. At this point, you should be able to gauge your organisation’s readiness for such an initiative by addressing how to handle governance, scalability, security protocols, and automation.

Delivery Approach

Once you have the buy-in of both business and IT, you should decide on a Business Intelligence (BI) delivery approach before committing to a data warehouse project. Should IT own the data and create the reports? Or should the business generate reports, using data delivered by the IT? Maybe the business side should be responsible for the entire process in a self-service model? It’s a crucial question you have to answer prior to starting a data warehouse project.

Use Cases

Before you select a specific technology, try to identify how exactly your organisation is going to use the data warehouse. Which business insights are you seeking to build from which capabilities? What level of granularity will you need to build those insights and what volumes of data will be required to accomplish that? How quickly do you need to access your data-driven insights? Do you expect any of those things to change over time? Maybe you’re planning on adding new business goals for your data warehouse sometime after the implementation, or you simply want to keep some options open to stay agile in the future?

It’s best to consider these questions as soon as possible. The data warehouse should be a part of a long-term strategy, not just a tactical solution to fix a pressing issue, even though it can do the latter as well. Think about your growth strategy for the next few years and try to cover as many potential future requirements as possible.

On-Premises or Cloud

The choice between the on-premises and cloud-based data warehouses is currently much easier than it used to be. Today, virtually all organisations that don’t need on-premises data warehouses because of some industry-specific regulations are looking into cloud solutions.

On-prem data warehouses have certain advantages — they provide more control over the repository and can make it easier to maintain data governance as well as adhere to certain security policies. That said, the costs of hardware and IT personnel required to manage the warehouse often outweigh the benefits.

Unless your business is locked into having an on-premises solution, we recommend going with a cloud-based one. They’re easier to deploy, more flexible, scalable, and in most cases, more cost-effective. You’ll also get access to built-in BI tools without having to implement everything from scratch.

Cost

While business value should always be the top priority, cost still plays an important role in almost every investment. Consider the full cost structure of your data warehouse, including the less obvious ‘hidden’ costs. Besides the money you’ll spend on hardware or cloud resources, there are several other areas to take into account.

How expensive will it be to implement the new solution? What is the expected data volume during the initial load? What is the estimated data volume growth over the next few years? Will you need an additional investment in integrations or modernisation of your existing IT infrastructure? How many people will be needed to operate and manage the data warehouse, and how difficult would it be to hire and retain them in your organisation? What about the costs of potential upscaling? Make sure to answer these questions in addition to comparing subscription plans and billing structures of the most popular providers.

Conclusion

Implementing or modernising a data warehouse is a major, complex process, and you need to consider multiple factors before you invest your money, time, and resources. It’s crucial that the solution you pick aligns with your long-term strategy and can support the critical areas of your business.

If you have any doubts, you can always reach out to a trusted technology partner with broad business knowledge and deep expertise with data. Make sure that the solution meets your requirements and leverage data-driven insights to grow your business.

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Rafał Imielski Content Marketing Specialist

He has two years’ experience in copywriting, translation and proofreading. His goal is to help people communicate in a concise and understandable way. Rafał is an archaeology graduate who’s fascinated by both prehistoric and modern technologies. 

See all Rafał's posts

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