Definition

data warehouse as a service (DWaaS)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Cloud data warehouse guide: Using Redshift, rival platforms

 Data warehousing as a service (DWaaS) is an outsourcing model in which a service provider configures and manages the hardware and software resources a data warehouse requires, and the customer provides the data and pays for the managed service.

With DWaaS, an organization does not have to spend money up front to create an on-premises data warehouse or worry about setting up and managing the necessary hardware and software.

The benefits of DWaaS are similar to any software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, including improving ease of use (especially for proof of concepts) and removing the responsibilities associated with new release management. The service provider makes the data warehouse available to the customer over the Internet through application programming interfaces (APIs).

Because administration and management is performed by the service provider, the customer does not have to worry about staffing the data warehouse. This makes DWaaS a good choice for organizations with small or limited IT departments. Typically, customers negotiate the terms of their DWaaS with the service provider in terms of the required storage capacity as well as throughput and performance requirements. The customer can easily scale from small to large in terms of storage and usage without the need to continually renegotiate contractual terms and conditions. Many providers offer free, startup options for small amounts of data.

Any organization looking to build a data warehouse may opt to use DWaaS to perform analytics in the cloud. For data that is generated in the cloud and accessed in the cloud, DWaaS can make more sense than an on-premises data warehouse.  For very large amounts of on-premises data that would take days or weeks to be transferred to the cloud, it is not unheard of for the service provider to ship storage to the customer so data can be loaded and then shipped back to the service provider.

As with any cloud-based offering, performance and availability are primary considerations. Because DWaaS lives in the cloud, it requires a reliable Internet connection to provide services. If connectivity is down or negatively impacted somehow, the data warehouse may perform poorly or be unavailable. Larger enterprise organizations may also be averse to adopting DWaaS because of concerns about security, compliance and data sovereignty. It is expected that as DWaaS matures, these concerns will subside.

As of this writing, popular DBaaS providers include IBM dashDB, Amazon Redshift, Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Snowflake Computing, Coola Data and 1010data. 

This was last updated in December 2015

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