How to sell-in the move to cloud data warehousing

  • Richard Thelwell
  • December 23, 2015

cloud data warehousingSelling the idea of cloud data warehousing to the rest of the business can be a tough call. Especially so in the context of a formal ‘let’s do it’ business case submission or recommendation. The core difficulty? You’re selling two concepts, not one—data warehousing and cloud—and generally battling against a poor level of understanding and entrenched misconceptions on both fronts.

The good news: it doesn’t have to be that way. Sold-in effectively, the outcome can be very positive. Namely, a body of opinion—among end-users and senior executives alike—that enthusiastically looks forward to cloud data warehousing, and which sees it as a solution to a number of intractable problems.

And how best to generate that enthusiastic body of opinion? First, sell data warehousing; second, sell cloud—and then, finally, sell cloud data warehousing.

So let’s summarise the key elements of each pitch.

Cloud data warehousing: why you want a data warehouse

If your business has an ERP system—and most businesses do—then the value of a data warehouse, let alone a cloud data warehouse, may not be immediately apparent. After all, you can already run reports against the ERP system’s database.

Well, sort of. Because running reporting services against a database optimised for transaction processing is quite different from running reporting services against a database optimised for reporting.

Typically, for instance, running reports against a database optimised for transaction processing is slower, more computing-intensive, and generally subject to capacity restrictions in terms of concurrently report-running. Put another way, it can be a pain in the proverbial.

And what exactly is a database that is optimised for reporting? Well, you may recognize it by its other name: a ‘data warehouse’.

What’s more, while an ERP database can house only ERP transactions, a data warehouse can hold data from multiple systems—and again, do so in a manner optimised for reporting.

So not only is it easier to run reports, it’s also very easy to run reports that draw together data combined from multiple sources—ERP and non-ERP—providing a view of the business that simply wasn’t possible before.

Cloud data warehousing: why you need cloud

So what does the Cloud bring to the data warehousing party? In other words, if you have a data warehouse, why might you want to put it in the Cloud?

One reason is ready access to the latest technology—because an on-premise data warehouse starts to age and become obsolete the moment it is switched on.

But Cloud also brings with it unlimited scalability. And unlimited access to state of the art, powerful servers. And the use of up-to-the-minute data transformation and analytics tools.

Moreover, the Cloud business model is very different. Because instead of paying for computing resource as an upfront piece of capital expenditure, you’re buying computing resource as a service, subscribed to (say) monthly.

Put another way, not only is Cloud computing more affordable, and a way of freeing up scarce capital for deployment elsewhere within the business, but it also delivers an enhanced computing experience—the latest technologies, continually upgraded and improved.

Cloud data warehousing: a data warehouse, in the Cloud

Roll it all together, and the logic of cloud data warehousing quickly becomes compelling.

A fast, powerful, scalable data warehouse—but one without the upfront costs, rigidity and built-in obsolescence of an on-premise solution.

Plus, of course, thanks to its subscription-based ‘computing as a service’ business model, cloud data warehousing offers a level of affordability that is simply not attainable with an on-premise cloud data warehouse.

Put like that, it’s difficult not to sell-in the advantages of a move to cloud data warehousing.

Amazon Redshift is one of the most popular tools for cloud data warehousing. For best practice examples and advice on using Redshift, download our free eBook below.