Data warehouses (DW) are increasingly becoming a core component of any enterprise’s data architecture. However, with the myriad of different architectures available, it can be hard to determine which one is most successful for an organization’s individual needs. In order to make an informed decision, one must first understand the different architectures and associated challenges.
A traditional data warehouse is a relational architecture, storing structured data and supporting analysis through pre-defined views of the data. This can be advantageous for businesses who want to unlock the value of historical data, as the relational structure enables faster query processing and supports the implementation of powerful analytics. However, such an architecture can be complex and expensive, requiring high levels of expertise and multiple disparate components such as ETL tools and physical storage. This can result in a longer implementation time and decreased agility.
Emerging solutions such as data lake architectures are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a more flexible and adaptable solution. A data lake enables the storage of both structured and unstructured data, enabling an organization to create granular and dynamic analytics. The increased flexibility of the data lake can enable faster and more accurate decision making. There are also cost savings associated with data lake solutions, with fewer components needed and the ability to deploy on commodity servers. That said, because data lakes store data in its original form, in-depth knowledge and expertise is required in order to make sense of it.
Another architecture growing in popularity is the hybrid data warehouse. A hybrid architecture combines the advantages of both the traditional data warehouse and the data lake by leveraging the fast query performance and structure of a relational model, combined with the flexibility of an unstructured environment. This combination enables an organization to quickly scale to meet growing demands, but also offers the preparatory work necessary for analysis. However, building and managing a hybrid system can be more difficult and require more specialist expertise than a traditional data warehouse.
Ultimately, the success of a data warehouse architecture lies in the selection of the most appropriate one to meet an organization’s needs. Beyond this, it is essential that the organization invests in the right tools and resources to ensure the correct setup and successful operation of the system.
Traditional Data Warehousing
The traditional data warehouse is designed to store structured data and provide a pre-defined view of the data. This architecture makes use of both batch and transactional data sources, often supported by ETL tools, to aggregate data and make it available for analysis. This approach offers an organization the opportunity to unlock the value of historical data, as the architecture enables faster query processing and supports the implementation of powerful analytics.
Advantages of the traditional data warehouse include faster query processing, scalability, and the ability to leverage powerful analytics. This architecture can be beneficial to organizations with complex use cases and large amounts of data. That said, a traditional data warehouse can involve long implementation times and requires a large investment in resources and components. It also requires higher levels of expertise, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain.
Data Lake Architecture
A data lake stores both structured and unstructured data in its original form and enables dynamic analytics. This architecture is popular as it increases flexibility and offers cost savings compared to traditional data warehouses. Moreover, data lakes can ingest and process data from an unlimited number of sources and make it available for analysis. This is advantageous for organizations that need to store and analyze large sets of data from different sources.
The main advantage of a data lake architecture is the flexibility to use any data source needed for the analysis. Additionally, the cost savings associated with data lake solutions are attractive to organizations with limited budgets. That said, data lakes require in-depth knowledge and expertise to bring the data to life, making sense of the data and correctly setting up the environment.
Hybrid Data Warehouse
A hybrid data warehouse is a combination of a traditional data warehouse and a data lake. This architecture allows an organization to leverage the fast query performance and structure of a relational model, while also taking advantage of the flexibility inherent in an unstructured environment. This enables an organization to quickly scale to meet growing demands, while also providing access to all the necessary preparatory work for the analysis.
The main advantage of a hybrid data warehouse is the ability to combine the best features of both architectures. This includes the fast query performance offered by traditional data warehouses, as well as the flexibility associated with data lake solutions. Additionally, this architecture can support both structured and unstructured data. The main disadvantage of this architecture is the complexity and expertise required to build and manage it.
Implementation and Operation
Once the most appropriate architecture is selected, implementation and operation should be carefully considered. This includes the selection of the appropriate tools and resources to ensure the correct setup and successful operation of the system. The correct implementation is essential in order to maximize the advantages of each individual architecture and properly utilize the data within the organization.
It is important to consider the different tools necessary for the success of the system and the associated cost in both time and money before committing to a particular solution. Additionally, ensuring that the right level of expertise is present within the organization is also essential, with the need to consider any training requirements or the resource demand necessary in order to manage and maintain the system.
Evaluation and Selection
When selecting the appropriate data warehouse architecture, organizations should evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each. As such, there is no single architecture that is the most successful for all organizations. Instead, it is important to align the organizational requirements with the features offered by the different data warehouse architectures and select the most appropriate one for the organization’s needs.
Ultimately, the success of a particular data warehouse architecture will depend on the selection of the most appropriate one. Furthermore, the implementation and operation of the system must also be carefully considered before making a commitment. It is essential that the organization invests in the right resources to ensure the correct setup and successful operation of the system.
Relevance of Data
Organizations should consider the relevance of the data when selecting the most appropriate architecture. The different data warehouse architectures each offer different capabilities which makes it essential to assess the relevance of data before selecting the architecture. Traditional data warehouses are better suited to structured data, while unstructured data requires a data lake