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Defining High-Performance Data Warehousing

By Philip Russom, TDWI Research Director

[NOTE -- My new TDWI report about High-Performance Data Warehousing (HiPer DW) is finished and will be published in October. The report’s Webinar will broadcast on October 9, 2013. In the meantime, I’ll leak a few of the report’s findings in this blog series. Search Twitter for #HiPerDW to find other leaks. Enjoy!]

Data used to be just data. Now there’s big data, real-time data, multi-structured data, analytic data, and machine data. Likewise, user communities have swollen into thousands of concurrent users, reports, dashboards, scorecards, and analyses. The rising popularity of advanced analytics has driven up the number of power users, with their titanic ad hoc queries and analytic workloads. And there are still brave new worlds to explore, such as social media and sensor data.

The aggressive growth of data and attendant disciplines has piled additional stresses on the performance of systems for business intelligence (BI), data warehousing (DW), data integration (DI), and analytics. The stress, in turn, threatens new business practices that need these systems to handle bigger and faster workloads. Just think about modern analytic practices that depend on real-time data, namely operational BI, streaming analytics, just-in-time inventory, facility monitoring, price optimization, fraud detection, and mobile asset management. Many of the latest practices apply business analytics to leveraging big data, which is a performance double whammy of heavy analytic workloads and extreme scalability.

The good news for BI, DW, DI, and analytic practices is that solutions for high-performance are available today. These solutions involve a mix of vendor tools or platforms and user designs or optimizations. For example, the vendor community has recently delivered new types of database management systems, analytic tools, platforms, and tool features that greatly assist performance. And users continue to develop their skills for high-performance architectures and designs, plus tactical tweaking and tuning. This report [to be published in October 2013] refers this eclectic mix of vendor products and user practices as high-performance data warehousing (HiPer DW).

In most user organizations, a DW and similar databases bear much of the burden of performance; yet, the quest for speed and scale also applies to every layer of the complex BI/DW/DI and analytics technology stack, as well as processes that unfold across multiple layers. Hence, in this report, the term high-performance data warehousing (HiPer DW) encompasses performance characteristics, issues, and enablers across the entire technology stack and associated practices.

HiPer DW Solutions combine Vendor Functionality with User Optimizations

Performance goals are challenging to achieve. Luckily, many of today’s challenges are addressed by technical advancements in vendor tools and platforms.

For example, there are now multiple high-performance platform architectures available for data warehouses, including massively parallel processing (MPP), grids, clusters, server virtualization, clouds, and SaaS. For real-time data, databases and data integration tools are now much better at handling streaming big data, service buses, SOA, Web services, data federation, virtualization, and event processing. 64-bit computing has fueled an explosion of in-memory databases and in-memory analytic processing in user solutions; flash memory and solid-state drives will soon fuel even more innovative practices. Other performance enhancements have recently come from multi-core CPUs, appliances, columnar storage, high-availability features, Hadoop, MapReduce, and in-database analytics. Later sections of this report will discuss in detail how these and other innovations assist with high performance.

Vendor tools and platforms are indispensible, but HiPer DW still requires a fair amount of optimization by technical users. The best optimizations are those that are designed into the BI and analytic deliverables that users produce, such as queries, reports, data models, analytic models, interfaces, and jobs for extract, transform, and load (ETL). As we’ll see later in this report, successful user organizations have pre-determined standards, styles sheets, architectures, and designs that foster high performance and other desirable characteristics. Vendor tools and user standards together solve a lot of performance problems up front, but there’s still a need for the tactical tweaking and of tuning of user-built BI deliverables and analytic applications. Hence, team members with skills in SQL tuning and model tweaking remain very valuable.

Want more? Register for my HiPer DW Webinar, coming up Oct.9 noon ET: http://bit.ly/HiPerDWwebinar

Posted by Philip Russom, Ph.D. on September 7, 2012


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