Your very first data warehouse: Cloud BI’s hidden benefit

  • Richard Thelwell
  • February 2, 2015

Cloud bi data warehouseIt’s difficult to ignore the buzz surrounding Business Intelligence and analytics. Look closely, and you’ll see significant numbers of ordinary businesses—manufacturers, distributors and retailers—taking the plunge. Moreover, a growing number are seeing the logic of opting for Cloud BI, rather than an ‘on-premise’ solution.

And in opting for Cloud BI, they’re seeing the benefits of an approach that replaces a hefty upfront investment with a simple affordable monthly subscription. Plus a fast implementation time. Plus—quite simply—access to sophisticated Business Intelligence capabilities of a calibre that would have been unthinkable five years ago.

Yet left almost unmentioned in the list of perceived benefits of Cloud BI will be the words ‘data warehouse’. Because for too many businesses implementing Cloud BI—or even a data warehouse-powered traditional ‘on-premise’ Business Intelligence solution, a data warehouse is simply part of the IT plumbing.

Your Cloud BI data warehouse: why you need it

It’s easy to see why the importance of a data warehouse can be overlooked. The simple fact of the matter is that you don’t actually need a data warehouse carry out Business Intelligence. It’s perfectly possible to run your chosen traditional ‘on premise’ Business Intelligence solution against your ‘live’ ERP database.

Possible, but not advisable. Because not only will your ERP system run more slowly as a result—sometimes, much much more slowly—but you’re also going to see Business Intelligence reports and queries run much more slowly, as well.

Why? Because raw ERP databases—from whatever vendor—employ a technology called ‘normalisation’, which spreads data across multiple tables in order to minimise redundancy and make the database more efficient at storage.

But making a database more efficient at storage isn’t the same as making it more efficient at reporting. Which is why everything slows to a crawl: because a database that hasn’t been optimised for reporting is being used for—yes!—reporting.

Your Cloud BI data warehouse: life in the fast lane

Hence the logic of the data warehouse. Which, quite simply, is a database that has been optimised for reporting.

So your ERP system doesn’t slow to a crawl while reports are being run, because those reports are being run on a database that’s quite separate from the database on which your ERP transactions are being carried out.

And your reports run quickly, too, because they’re not having to run against a database that’s optimised for storage, not reporting.

Simple, isn’t it? But here comes the clever bit. Almost by definition, a Cloud BI solution has to run against a data warehouse, because it runs in the Cloud, not ‘on premise’. Meaning that Cloud BI comes with a Cloud BI data warehouse as standard.

Your Cloud BI data warehouse: unlimited Business Intelligence

And what happens when you combine a fast, Cloud-based data warehouse with fast, Cloud-based servers? A higher order of report processing power, in short.

Meaning that it becomes readily possible for businesses to achieve true ‘self-serve’ reporting, with users calling up reports with simple ‘point and click’ technology.

Meaning, too, that no longer does an organisation’s IT staff constitute a bottleneck to report-writing—users can call up their own reports, when and where they want, without needing IT staff to write and compile those reports.

And meaning that there’s almost no limit to the extent of the Business Intelligence capability that a business can deploy, once it has sidestepped the barriers imposed by a lack of computing horsepower and the need for IT staff to write reports and queries.

All thanks to a Cloud-based Cloud BI data warehouse.

Your Cloud BI data warehouse: ‘Amazon-style’ analytics

There’s one other point that’s worth making. While sales analysis tends to be a perennial Business Intelligence favourite when it comes to reporting, standard sales analytics doesn’t embrace Amazon-style insights such as ‘Customers who bought this are likely to want to buy that.’

Simply put, those sorts of insights are more about data mining than reporting.

But the starting point for that data mining is—yet again—your Cloud BI data warehouse. And data mining needn’t be expensive: Matillion’s own data mining specialists, for instance, make extensive use of ‘R’, a freely-downloadable open source analytics tool.

So with a Cloud BI data warehouse to hand, there’s nothing to prevent a business from carrying out its own Amazon-style sales analytics.

Your Cloud BI data warehouse: the bottom line

So the conclusion is clear: in businesses where Business Intelligence is facing bottlenecks and road blocks, a data warehouse can do a lot to get things moving.

In short, an unregarded piece of IT plumbing it certainly isn’t.

And if you opt for Cloud BI, your data warehouse comes as standard, built as part of the solution, and included within that affordable monthly subscription.

Convinced? Many of our customers are.

To find out how a Data Warehouse can supercharge your Cloud BI solution, download our free guide today: