As organizations and their IT infrastructure grow more complex, the number of different places where data gets stored also grows. Gone are the days where a company had just one large database to look after; now data might be stored across several different sources.
“Historically data was stored in databases, on-premises. As we enter this kind of digital explosion as a result of the cloud emerging, more and more businesses pop up that are able to specialize in different aspects of a business,” said Jerod Johnson, technology evangelist at CData Software, which provides connectors for data warehousing, SaaS applications, and more.
For example, one department might be storing data in customer relationship management (CRM) software, another might be using accounting software like Quickbooks, another might be using logistical software like NetSuite.
But now that data is no longer living in the same place, how can organizations consolidate and manage it all in order to gain valuable business insights? That’s where data warehousing comes in. According to Johnson, a data warehouse “provides a place for you to store all of your business data to get a 360-degree view of the business by combining different data sources together.”
With data warehousing, a company can look at their CRM data, accounting data, and logistical data from a single viewpoint, and be able to see any interactions there as well.
“With different data pieces being stored in different locations, the data warehouse provides that single point of contact for your data regardless of what kind of data it is,” said Johnson.
Most of what can be accomplished by a traditional database can also be achieved through data warehousing, and according to Johnson, data warehousing also allows for some additional benefits. “What most of the data warehouse vendors have done is they’ve specifically engineered their technology to provide the best experience possible for these really complicated questions, and even more complicated than, say, what a traditional database would be able to support because the data warehouse contains data from a variety of different sources,” said Johnson.
With a single point of contact for their data, different departments are now able to get a fuller understanding of their customers, share insights, and gain knowledge of their business in a way previously unavailable to them.
For example, salespeople can utilize the data warehouse to compare their store’s performance based on consolidated data across the company. A salesperson could put customer data gathered in tools like Hootsuite, Salesforce, Mailchimp, or Marketo into a warehouse and then use an analytics tool like Tableau to gain insights into the efficiency of marketing campaigns, the health of their lead funnel, and customer trends and activities. Another example is that supply chain managers can use data warehousing to see how their inventory is performing, and even compare it to other months.
As cloud technologies emerge and begin to penetrate the market, many businesses are now following a hybrid model in their IT infrastructure, where some data is on-premises and some is in the cloud. But Johnson believes companies will move more towards setting up these warehouses in the cloud.
“Data was traditionally stored in a database that was within the four walls of the business,” said Johnson. “As this digital transformation, or digital explosion, has occurred, you have services like AWS, Azure, Oracle – these cloud services that allow you to host in the cloud. A lot of businesses are doing some sort of hybrid model right now where either they’ve gotten a private cloud or they’ve got some data on-premises and some data in the cloud, but these virtual hardware setups become more and more cost-effective.”
This shift towards the cloud has made it even easier for companies to make the most out of their data through the use of data warehousing. According to Johnson, cloud storage tends to have many advantages over on-premises storage solutions, such as flexibility, easier access to data, and improved data security.
However, migrating data into a data warehouse can be difficult if a user doesn’t have the right integration tools. Cloud-to-cloud and hybrid extract-transform-load (ETL) tools, such as CData Sync, can help users quickly implement a cloud data storage solution and consolidate data, Johnson explained.
“From there, it’s as simple as connecting your warehouse to analytics platforms to gain valuable business insights into all the data across your organization,” said Johnson.
Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud data warehousing because it can meet the growing need for more capacity, more flexibility, and easier access to disparate data. Greater access to data, in turn, allows different departments to improve their analytics capabilities to make more informed business decisions and ultimately advance their bottom line.
Content provided by SD Times and CData Software.