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Why modern data warehousing is the key to solve data and vendor lock-in

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / carlos castilla)

Research, and the lived experience of many organizations during the pandemic, has proven that moving to the cloud offers competitive advantage. But cloud adoption, and the benefits it brings, is under threat — from vendor lock-in. Enterprises tied to a single provider could face challenges such as limiting free flow of data between data communities, and data silos. This limits the freedom by which data can flow between lines of business and data professionals, and impedes the ability to arrive at the best insights possible, as quickly as possible. This in turn makes it difficult for executives to gain a full and meaningful picture of the state of the business to base critical decisions on. Hardly a position most companies can afford when facing a global economic downturn.

Thankfully, there’s a way out: modern data warehousing is designed to solve vendor and data lock-in.

Why modern data warehousing is the key out of lock-in

Traditionally, a data warehouse, also known as an enterprise data warehouse, is a system used for reporting and data analysis, and is considered a core component of the business intelligence platform portfolio. The challenge is that many of these data warehouses are still siloed. Modern data warehousing is built on a platform integrating multiple analytics capabilities with a single view of data, with consistent security and seamless governance.  This allows organizations to share petabytes of data among thousands of users while maintaining SLAs and keeping cost down. It enables any form of consumption — standard reports, dashboards, or ad hoc queries, and accommodates all types of data, structured or unstructured. Furthermore, it supports any type of deployment, whether that be cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid of both.

Essentially, modern data warehousing brings together all the capabilities that would have previously sat in multiple separate warehouses into one single place. This is because it works in an enterprise data cloud, a platform that integrates and secures a company’s entire data lifecycle – from the edge to the public cloud. With this integrated approach, businesses don’t need to worry about vendor lock-in stopping them from accessing valuable insights. In this new type of data warehousing, organizations can run analytic capabilities in the platform itself, instead of within a constrained cloud provider, thereby circumventing vendor lock-in.

Modern data warehousing also provides an additional competitive edge as it enables almost any form of analytics — SQL, machine learning and/or real time. However, in order to bring the benefits of modern data warehousing into a business, a few things have to change.

Ready the enterprise for modern data warehousing adoption

There are three steps enterprises can take to make the most of modern data warehousing. Firstly, organizations must start by assessing all the data being captured. Business leaders, with the help of IT and data analysts, need to ensure that the data types that are being analyzed to inform their decisions are as diverse as possible, as this will enable targeted and effective decision making. For example, Globe Telecom in the Philippines is using modern data warehousing to analyze data from multiple sources, such as billing systems, network traffic data, and social media networks, in near real time. In doing so the company can identify patterns and put insights into action with highly targeted advertising that helps them differentiate the brand in the market, and offer customers tailored services that resonate.

As a second step, leaders need to reassess whether they are deploying cloud computing smartly, and consider a hybrid cloud approach. There are many advantages to the public cloud. It offers the opportunity to reduce costs with pay-as-you-go, and can deliver resources to demanding workloads at speed, without congesting existing ones. However, not all your data will be able to be kept in the public cloud, for cost, sovereignty, or security concerns, for example. Maintaining your data in a single public cloud and on-premise, or even in multiple clouds, can lead to an increased risk profile. A hybrid approach, that combines the benefits of on-premises and multiple clouds, both public and private, is where organizations are finding success. However, when using different vendors for each element, and facing vendor lock-in in one cloud or another, you can face higher costs when data needs to be shared across domains, or you increase security breach risks maintaining separate profiles for each deployment model. You also risk non-compliance to regulations when it is increasingly difficult to maintain a single view of governance and traceability.  With modern data warehousing, using a single platform which easily integrates different infrastructures, leaders can deploy hybrid cloud with the confidence that they will have full control, no silos, and consistent security and governance across all their data.

Finally, to make sure the insights provided by data warehousing become ingrained in the company’s decision making, businesses need to think about adding more users into the data journey. Concentrating analytics only within the IT department, and not making ad-hoc and exploratory analytics available directly to line of business decision makers, without the need for support, is what stops many organizations today to make critical decisions at speed.

A single pane of glass for faster decisions

IT can’t respond to the demand coming from multiple departments – from sales to HR – fast enough on its own, and an enquiry that could be solved in an hour takes up to three months. Besides the lack of speed, the frustration with long IT queries can lead isolated departments to look elsewhere and invest in even more public cloud providers on their own, without a proper data and security strategy in place – what is known as shadow IT.

Modern data warehousing, supported by an enterprise data cloud, is mitigating this issue, while helping decision-makers avoid long IT queries. It allows anyone in the organization, even someone who is not technical, to run analytics in real time in an easy way, bridging the gap between raw data and actionable business decisions. Departments can run self-service ad hoc machine learning or data engineering workloads to answer their questions, all with consistent security and governance.

And with the entire data lifecycle available in their hands, without the limitations of lock-in, leaders can rest assured that their decisions will also be more accurate. For example, the life sciences research company IQVIA have found this to be true. It deployed a platform that integrated 250 data warehouses that were previously running in several different platforms, and made them accessible by 2,000 different people in the organization from a single pane of glass. This change improved prediction accuracy by four times. Furthermore, the integrated approach accelerated query responses from days to seconds, accelerating crucial healthcare discoveries.

The way forward

As they enter a new year, avoiding vendor lock-in and solving the data silos in their organization must become a priority for executives. Modern data warehousing, supported by an enterprise data cloud, will offer them a way out, while providing a full picture of the company’s circumstances. By leveraging the right technology, businesses will be in a much better position to not only understand the state of their recovery, but also to thrive in 2021 with enhanced analytical capabilities.

David Dichmann, Director of Product Marketing, Data Warehouse, Cloudera

David Dichmann is the Director of Product Marketing, Data Warehouse, at Cloudera.