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Cloud Data Warehouse: Features, Benefits, Softwares, and More

17 Jan 2023

Data warehouses (DWH) have been imperative to analytical querying & reporting for decades. But they were not designed to tackle today’s exponential data growth.

Today, cloud data warehousing helps overcome physical data centers’ storage and resource constraints. And a cloud-based data warehouse can dynamically scale & shrink to meet your ever-changing user needs & business priorities! It is an excellent solution for enterprises that require the agility to store, process & manage massive amounts of data for analytics & BI applications.

This article aims to help you explore the basics of a cloud data warehouse, its key features, business benefits, reasons to move to a cloud data warehouse (DWH), major cloud data warehouse providers & how to choose the right one. So, let’s get started!

Table of Contents  

What is a Cloud Data Warehouse?

It is a database delivered as a managed service in the public cloud and optimized for analytics, scale, and usability. Cloud-based data warehouses allow organizations to focus on running their businesses rather than driving a server room. The cloud’s scalability, usability & interoperability allow business intelligence teams to extract actionable insights for quick, data-driven decision-making. 

For all cloud-based data warehouse solutions, the service vendor provides the following capabilities:

  • Capacity management to upsize or downsize your data footprint
  • Data storage in a file system that is securely hosted on the cloud
  • Auto updates on an ongoing basis to ensure business continuity

Cloud Vs. On-premise Data Warehouse

Traditional Data Warehouse refers to an on-premises DWH located or installed at the company’s office. And to facilitate this, organizations must invest in procuring physical hardware such as servers. And, to manage and update them, an organization would require a separate staff. Most importantly, scaling this warehouse takes time as new hardware would need shipping to the destination and installation.

As the name suggests, Cloud Data Warehouse is the DWH solution available on the cloud. The organizations don’t have to own and maintain hardware in this case. For cloud DWH, the updates, maintenance, and hardware scalability are managed by 3rd party cloud providers.

Let’s see how this integrated data management solution stacks up against an on-premises setup:

Parameter On-premises DWH Cloud DWH
Scalability Costly to scale and complex to scale down Flexible that fluctuates in size & needs to upsize or downsize their storage space and tools
Maintenance Typically need ongoing maintenance for hardware and software, periodic upgrades, and new tools over time Pay-as-you-go pricing model, you only spend on the storage space and cloud features you need
Availability Depends on the hardware & software quality and the competence of the in-house IT team. Leading cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) ensure up to 99.99% of uptime
Performance Offers excellent performance that can be managed in milliseconds if the scalability challenge is solved Can serve multiple geographic locations with excellent query-handling capability that can be measured in seconds
Security It largely depends on the competence of the in-house IT team Ensured by the cloud provider to protect infrastructure and data safety.
Cost-effectiveness Requires significant initial investments (hardware, IT team, training & more) Zero hardware-related costs with the possibility to pay as per the pay-as-you-go model

Cloud computing data warehouse solutions support integration with on-premises data warehouses in hybrid setups. Cloud platforms facilitate integration with third-party tools and enable seamless connectivity between apps and devices.

Why Moving to a Cloud Data Warehouse Makes Sense

A cloud DWH enables enterprises to adapt quickly to changing workloads and expand or reduce capacity in response to fluctuations in concurrent users. Additional benefits include:

  • The flexibility to connect legacy apps with a cloud-based analytics solution – without isolating any data that these systems store and manage.
  • Offers the capability to analyze a wide range of unstructured, semi-structured & structured data – from disparate sources, such as batch, streaming and real-time.
  • Data engineers, data analysts & data scientists have varying data needs. And with data ranging from raw and unstructured to clean, structured data with traceability, a cloud DWH supports all user needs.
  • Enables end-to-end data management with effective processes for data ingestion, processing, integration, preparation, cataloging & mapping of data relationships and data delivery
  • Integrates AI & ML technologies for accurate and reliable data discovery, tagging, matching, and mapping.

If you’re interested in learning more about the cloud data warehouse market and its future potential, here’s a quick read with some important insights.

Cloud Data Warehouse Features

Features of Cloud Data Warehouse

There are many cloud-based data warehouse solutions on the market, but the key features common to the most popular ones are as follows:

  • Columnar Data Stores: The most adaptable for analytics, it helps process data in columns and aggregate queries for faster reporting.
  • Scalable Data Storage: Features like compression & deduplication enable you to store as much data as you need while saving space and optimizing performance.
  • Individual Storage Space & Compute Resources: Allows managing massive amounts of data & simultaneously in one location with required flexibility and agility.
  • Data Integration Capabilities: Makes it easy to connect disparate data sources with robust tools for creating and managing datasets, setting permissions and running queries.
  • High Database Performance: It is ensured by in-memory caching, parallel query processing and columnar storage.
  • Efficient Data Management: Integrate extensive tools to create and manage databases, run queries, and set permissions. It is while ensuring accurate data safety with automated backups & disaster recovery.
  • Automated Warehousing Processes: Allows you to create efficient data models for critical processes. It eliminates the need for human intervention for planning, modeling & deploying the steps for extracting insights from operations.
  • Report Generation Function: Allows you to identify trends and correlations in your operational processes and makes data accessible for dashboarding, visualization & reporting.

Looking for a Well-Performing Cloud DWH?

We can help you to design & implement a cloud-based data warehouse that meets your specific data storage needs & migration requirements.

Benefits of Cloud Data Warehouse

The cloud data warehouse is a vital solution for modern BI & analytics, enabling businesses to leverage advanced analytics to extract insights for optimizing processes, improving customer service, and ultimately gaining a competitive edge.  Modern cloud architectures combine the flexibility of the cloud, the agility of big data platforms & the power of data warehousing – at a fraction of the cost of on-premises solutions.

Cloud Data Warehouse Benefits

Below are the benefits in scalability, cost and performance when implementing a cloud data warehouse architecture:

  • Better Insights, Faster: With powerful computing capabilities, a cloud DWH delivers real-time analytics using siloed data sources much faster than a legacy on-premises setup, allowing business users to extract actionable insights quickly.
  • Enhanced Flexibility: With the on-demand availability of unlimited storage space, it is easy to scale DWH as the storage needs expand without purchasing new hardware.
  • Reduced Overhead: Cloud DWH eliminates the need for a dedicated server room, allocated space & costly hardware. You don’t have to deal with manual upgrades and troubleshooting issues. It helps considerably minimize operational costs & the risk of overprovisioning your infrastructure.
  • Disaster Recovery: Consistent backups and facilitate asynchronous duplication of information without disrupting current work. Specialized networks are also available to enhance backup further.
  • Seamless Integrations: Compatibility with different querying languages and the ability to adapt to fluctuations in data volume makes it easier for database administrators to access and integrate other data sources. It ultimately improves the accuracy of business intelligence applications.
  • Improved Pace & Performance: Allows businesses to keep up with their always-expanding data sources (CRM, ERP, social media & support systems) while balancing the data load & maintaining the processing speed.

Top 5 Cloud Data Warehouse Services

Choosing the right cloud data warehouse provider and platform requires in-depth research and technical knowledge. To help you find the best fit for your business needs, we’ve curated this list of five popular cloud data warehouse-focused services offered by leading cloud vendors.

Key Features Ideal For Value Proposition
Azure Cosmos DB + Azure Synapse Analytics – Flexible data storage
– Compatible with columnar, key-value, graph & document data models
– optimized for analytical querying
– Automatic data deleted
– Automatic indexing
– Enterprise teams that need to run no-ETL queries in real-time on high-volume operational datasets with zero impact on the performance of transactional workloads. – Microservices within event-driven architectures
– Near real-time analytics
Snowflake – SQL-based queries for analytics
– Support for structured data as well as XML & JSON
– Businesses across verticals looking to allocate computation resources for loading & querying data concurrently across public cloud providers – Supports multiple service connections and continuous data loading from Snowflake files stages, Azure Blob Storage, Amazon S3 & Google Cloud Storage
Amazon Redshift – Automated infrastructure provisioning
– Parallel processing capabilities
– Network isolation security
– Native spatial data processing capabilities
– Ideal for enterprises that have invested in AWS deployment and tools. – Machine learning capabilities
– Federated queries support
– Integration with S3 cloud storage
Azure SQL Database – Dynamic scalability
– Automated index management
– Supports cross-database SQL queries
– Always-on data encryption
– Inbuilt backup
– The right choice for mid-sized data warehousing needs that go up to 8 TB of data volumes with up to 30,000 concurrent sessions – An elastic pool of resources
– A fully managed instance of SQL Server
BigQuery – Part of Google Cloud
– Automated data loading and transformation
– Streaming insertion API
– Full SQL query support
– Granular permissions
– Suitable for exabyte-scale storage with analytical queries that filter data according to clusters or partitions or need to scan the entire dataset. – Integration with BigQuery ML

As a cloud app development company, we offer full-cycle development services by leveraging platforms & services provided by popular cloud vendors, including Amazon AWS & Microsoft Azure.

How to Choose the Right Cloud Data Warehouse Vendor for Your Business

Modern cloud data warehouse solutions help meet enterprise needs for big data processing, cloud computing & other data-driven initiatives. However, it would help if you considered the following factors to ensure that your chosen vendor meets your unique business needs:

  • Performance: data type, indexing, query & storage optimization
  • Architecture: isolation, elasticity, security, compatibility with supporting technologies
  • Scalability: user concurrency, elasticity, query, and scale efficiency
  • Cost: infrastructure resources & vendor pricing

You also need to assess your options in terms of practical use cases like:

  • Reporting based on historical data
  • Dashboards for analyzing historical and real-time data
  • High-performance analytics for high-volume, complex queries involving big data sets
  • Big data analytics using unstructured or semi-structured data
  • Machine learning model for training the datasets stored in data lakes and warehouses
  • Operational analytics to enable employees to make informed decisions faster
  • Client-facing analytics for updates or reports to be delivered to customers

Here’s an insightful read on DWH design & development with industry-wide use cases and cost considerations to help you make an informed decision.

How Rishabh Can Facilitate Your Move

The selection of the optimal data warehouse technology could be a daunting task. While leading cloud DWH providers offer similar functionality in terms of scalability, flexibility, reliability & security, you need the right development partner. They can help serve your varied use cases. If you are unsure either about your exact storage, processing, and analytics requirements or about the best-fitting cloud data warehouse platform, we can help.

Our dedicated data warehouse development services cover cloud DWH consulting, designing, quality assurance & implementation with migration & modernization assistance.

  • Cloud Data Warehouse Consulting: We have extensive experience in DWH modeling, data management, data governance, and BI consulting. Our team assesses your existing infrastructure and data sources to help you decide whether to migrate, upgrade, optimize and implement a new DWH.
  • An Extensive Suite of DWH Services: Our team is a mix of data architects, analytics & admins who leverage an agile project delivery approach to data profiling, standardization, acquisition, transformation, and distribution. We also help you choose suitable databases, data platforms & operational source systems to meet your data access, integration & migration need.
  • Cloud Implementation Specialists: We have a successful track record of working with preferred cloud-based tools, including Synapse Analytics, Redshift, Snowflake, and Azure Data Factory, to support you at every stage – from DWH design & implementation to project evolution.

Learn how we helped a US-based hospitality giant streamline and manage their siloed data from 20+ sources and double their workflow efficiency.

Success Story: Cloud-Based Data Warehouse System

Our client was using multiple applications to manage their disparate data sources and wanted us to create a centralized source of information.

We built a Cloud Data Warehouse (DWH) that unified all the data from their internal & third-party applications. The key deliverables of the project included the creation of

  • Centralized repository
  • Operational Data Store (ODS)
  • Intuitive dashboard
  • ETL routines, packages, and schedules
  • Data warehouse
  • Power BI Integration
  • MS Azure Deployment

Benefits Delivered

  • 50% increase in workflow efficiency
  • 40% reduction in data quality problems
  • 99% precision in business understanding

Wrapping it Up!

With cloud DWH as the focal point of your modernization journey, you can streamline your processes with optimized query performance & productive integrations from siloed sources. They are a cost-effective and scalable solution for modern businesses as they offer the flexibility to query and analyze data from multiple sources. Further, they are easier to set up and maintain than traditional on-premises data warehouses. And if you are unsure of your storage, data management & analytics needs, we’re ready to help you!

Need a High-Performing Cloud DWH?

We can help you implement a cloud DWH to meet your unique storage, integration, or migration needs for maximized performance.