Data warehouse appliances -- in a nutshell

This guide is designed to provide an overview of data warehouse appliance trends and concepts. Discover tips for advancing a data warehouse strategy, learn about the benefits of data warehousing and more.

The data warehouse appliance industry is changing -- with vendor acquisitions and increased appeal to preconfigured

data warehouse appliances. Use this data warehouse appliance guide to get an overview of the data warehouse market, get tips for evaluating and purchasing technology and more.

Table of contents
   Data warehouse definitions
   Where do appliances fit in the data warehousing market?
   Data warehouse appliance strategy, evaluation and purchasing
   Data warehouse testing
   Data warehouse expert strategies and advice  

 

Data warehouse definitions

Data warehouse
A data warehouse is a central repository for a subset of data that an enterprise's various business systems collect. Historically, data warehouses were most often used as a central repository to integrate, cleanse and reconcile data used for business intelligence (BI) and analysis.

Data warehouse appliance
Data warehouse appliances are a combination of integrated hardware and software designed specifically for analytical processing, according to experts interviewed for an article about demystifying data warehouse appliances.  

 

Where do appliances fit in the data warehousing market?

It's no secret that the data warehousing market is dynamic, like many other IT markets. There are more options for data warehousing deployments today than ever before, and activity in the vendor space, such as Microsoft's acquisition of DATAllegro, suggests that vendors are thinking big. But as the ubiquity of appliances grows, so do questions about how the current market will respond. The answer: Data warehousing appliances are market-breakers because they provide the convenience and cost efficiency of hardware and software in one box, according to technology and financial analysts.

But not only have appliances broken into the market – they've gone mainstream, according to a Forrester Research report. Organizations are choosing preconfigured data warehouse appliances for specific data management and analytic functions, such as bulk data loading and OLAP queries. Essentially, they promise to support the quick deployment of data warehouse applications and accelerate data warehouse implementations.  

 

Data warehouse appliance strategy, evaluation and purchasing

Understanding data warehouse appliances is one thing, but more important is understanding the value they can bring to organizations, according to Michael A. Schiff, founder and principal of MAS Strategies.

"The bottom line is this: Ask not what a data warehouse appliance is in strict terms; rather, ask what it can do for your organization," Schiff said.

That means getting a grasp of the potential benefits of data warehousing appliances, such as "[taking] the guesswork out of the acquisition process of the platform environment," according to Kim Stanick, vice president of marketing with ParAccel Inc., a San Diego, Calif.-based analytic database vendor. In other words, before appliances, organizations were challenged by integrating software from one vendor and hardware from another. Appliances claim to simplify this strategy.

Once organizations recognize the business value and benefits of appliances, they might begin the evaluation process. As with any software, hardware or appliance purchase, this process should begin with establishing requirements, according to Rick Sherman, founder of Stowe, Mass-based Athena IT Solutions. Determining current system capabilities, developing a vendor shortlist and creating evaluation criteria are all part of the procedure for evaluating and buying data warehouse appliances, Sherman said.  

 

Data warehouse testing

An important – and ongoing – step to a data warehouse appliance implementation is the testing. Good news here: "While the design of a data warehouse is not the same as other applications, the testing part is pretty similar. So everything that you already know about software (and hardware) testing is applicable [to data warehouse testing]," according to data warehouse expert Mark Whitehorn, co-founder of UK-based PenguinSoft Consulting.  

 

Data warehouse expert strategies and advice

SearchDataManagement.com's Ask the Expert feature is a convenient way to get customized answers to pressing questions about a variety of data management topics. Ask the data warehouse expert a question about software, strategy, implementations and more.

This was first published in September 2008

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