How to benefit from data warehousing

Thursday 10 October 2013

Businesses and organisations must take care to ensure the data they generate, collect and store is properly managed, enabling it to be used to draw insight and gain business intelligence. Firms cannot simply dump this potentially-valuable information in a 'data landfill' - it needs to be held in a structured, organised way, ensuring it is fit for purpose when the time comes for analysis and interpretation.

According to Jeanne Harris, executive research fellow and director of research for Accenture's Institute for High Performance, too many businesses are falling down when it comes to data warehousing. She warned that companies are not putting sufficient thought into how they extract insight from the "increasingly massive pools of data" they are collecting.

As reported by CIO Insight, Ms Harris explained that merely establishing a data warehouse is not enough for organisations - they need to think systematically about how it is managed. She noted that the data warehouse is "just a place to store stuff until you need it". "It doesn't create value for anyone; it creates the potential for value," Ms Harris explained.

How to avoid creating a 'data dump'

In order to ensure businesses benefit from data warehousing - and avoid the 'data dump' scenario - the expert has suggested a number of tips. These can help companies combine data warehousing with the ability to synthesise and organise data, and get it to the applications where it is needed, she said.

In the first instance, businesses require good quality, clean and consistent data taken from across the organisation, Ms Harris noted. This should help deliver an enterprise-wide perspective, or a 360-degree view of the customer, she explained. Business leaders must be sufficiently skilled to interpret data and use it effectively to guide decision making, Ms Harris claimed. Part of this process is targeting the areas of the business where analytical decision making can have the most significant impact. She urged businesses to "pick their spots", suggesting it is not possible to apply analytics to everything.

Microsoft offers data warehousing solutions

In January 2013, Microsoft was positioned as a Leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems. The firm offers a family of solutions designed to manage organisations' decision-support data, catering for all requirements at any scale.

Microsoft solutions can meet companies' smallest to largest data storage requirements, while handling queries up to 100 times faster than legacy data platforms. This is achieved through the use of massively parallel processing and in-memory technologies.

Solutions for all sizes of businesses

If you are a small to medium-sized business, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 may offer the ideal data warehousing solution. The software allows users to deploy on their own hardware configuration, helping to minimise capital expenditure. SQL Server 2012 supports all data warehouse life cycle phases from cleansing and loading to analysis and reporting.

A further option is SQL Server 2012 Fast Track - a reference architecture solution that gives companies a step-by-step guide to build a data warehouse on hardware that has been pre-configured to support an organisation's data requirements. Companies go through a certification process, and receive a scale-up data warehouse tuned for optimal performance at a low entry cost.

Larger businesses may wish to take advantage of Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse - a massively parallel processing appliance. This has evolved to handle the world of big data, addressing requirements of any data volume, variety and velocity. The solution is simple to deploy, delivered as a pre-built, pre-optimised, and pre-installed system.

Find out more about SQL Server and Microsoft data warehousing technologies can help your organisation manage its information and acquire business intelligence.

Posted by Alex Boardman