Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Simplified

on BI Tool, Data Integration, Data Warehouse, ETL • February 16th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

Do you wish to understand what Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence are and why they’re necessary? Do you wish to know which are the best Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Tools? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

Data can be considered to be one of the most valuable assets for any business if used correctly. As the volume of data with any business increases, its ability to perform quality analysis and make better data-driven decisions also increases. But these data-driven decisions would only lead to growth if the data that was used to perform the analysis was accurate. Even accurate data can lead to inaccurate or partial insights if the data is not used properly. To ensure accurate analysis, businesses should ensure that their staff is well trained and Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Tools are properly set up and used.

This article will provide you with an in-depth understanding of what Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence are, why they’re necessary, and which are the best Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Tools available in the market.

Table of Contents

Understanding Data Warehouses

Data Warehouses
Image Source: https://intellipaat.com/blog/tutorial/data-warehouse-tutorial/data-warehouse-overview/

A Data Warehouse in the simplest terms can be defined as a storage platform for historical business data allowing organizations to perform analysis on it and make data-driven decisions. This business data could be coming in from various sources such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Supply Chain Management (SCM) Systems along with many other OLTP (Online Transactional Processing) Systems.

The benefits of using a Data Warehouse are as follows:

  • Better Quality Data: The data from all the data sources go through various transformations that ensure that the data stored in the Data Warehouse is of the best quality possible. This means that various inconsistencies that might be present in the Operational Data have been addressed to ensure that only consistent and good quality data is present in the Data Warehouse.
  • Faster Decision Making: Since the data in the Data Warehouse is already consistent and of high quality, it can be considered to be in a form suitable for analysis. Hence, the business team can perform the required analysis in less time without worrying about inaccurate results.

Understanding the Need for Data Warehouses

To understand the need for Data Warehouses, you first need to understand what Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) systems are.

Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) System

An Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) system can be defined as a system that is required by any business for its day-to-day operations. Hence, these systems should be able to handle a large number of operations happening on the database in real-time. Some examples of OLTP systems include financial transactions systems, retail systems, etc.

As can be observed from the examples, most database operations that take place in an OLTP system are INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE. An OLTP system ideally requires a low number of READ operations.

Characteristics of an OLTP system are as follows:

  • Low Response Time.
  • Small Transactions.
  • Large Number of Users.
  • High Availability and Concurrency.
  • Large Data Volumes.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) System

An Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) system can be defined as a system that allows users to conduct Multi-Dimensional Analysis on large volumes of data at high speed. Since an OLAP system is only used for analysis, most operations that take place in it are READ operations.

OLTP vs OLAP
Image Source: https://www.marklogic.com/blog/relational-databases-are-not-designed-for-mixed-workloads/

Here, it can be observed that the Operational Data of any organization might be stored in the databases of various OLTP systems and an OLAP system requires all data to be present at a single centralized location from where it can fetch data as per the requirements of the analysis. Also, the data present in the OLTP system might not be in a form suitable for analysis, and hence, some transformations will have to be performed on it before any analysis can be conducted. 

So for any useful analysis to be conducted, the data from all the OLTP Databases has to go through an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process and then stored in a central database. This central database is referred to as the Data Warehouse. 

A Data Warehouse will always contain historical data of any organization that is used primarily for analysis to help the organization make data-driven decisions. Once data has been moved to a Data Warehouse, it cannot be deleted or updated but only be analyzed. 

Using the Operational Database for both Operational and Decisional Support can lead to low performance and possible downtime in extreme cases due to the overloading of the database. Using a separate Data Warehouse for analysis would hence, reduce the load on the Operational Database. Since the data to be analyzed is in a separate Data Warehouse now, day-to-day operations on the Operational Database and analysis by the Analytics Team can occur independently of each other. Using a separate Data Warehouse would allow businesses to fulfil their Operational, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence requirements.

An example of explaining the difference between OLTP and OLAP systems using Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence can be seen below:

OLTP OLAP Example using Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
Image Source: https://www.guru99.com/business-intelligence-definition-example.html

Simplify ETLs using Hevo’s No-code Data Pipeline

Hevo is a No-code Data Pipeline that offers a fully managed solution to set up data integration from 100+ data sources and will let you directly load data to your Data Warehouse. It will automate your data flow in minutes without writing any line of code. Its fault-tolerant architecture makes sure that your data is secure and consistent. Hevo provides you with a truly efficient and fully-automated solution to manage data in real-time and always have analysis-ready data for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence needs.

Let’s look at Some Salient Features of Hevo:

  • Fully Managed: It requires no management and maintenance as Hevo is a fully automated platform.
  • Data Transformation: It provides a simple interface to perfect, modify, and enrich the data you want to transfer. 
  • Real-Time: Hevo offers real-time data migration. So, your data is always ready for analysis.
  • Schema Management: Hevo can automatically detect the schema of the incoming data and maps it to the destination schema.
  • Live Monitoring: Advanced monitoring gives you a one-stop view to watch all the activities that occur within pipelines.
  • Live Support: Hevo team is available round the clock to extend exceptional support to its customers through chat, email, and support calls.

Explore more about Hevo by signing up for the 14-day trial today!

Top Data Warehousing Solutions

Some of the best Data Warehousing Solutions available are as follows:

1) Amazon Redshift

Amazon Redshift Logo
Image Source: https://www.sisense.com/data-connectors/redshift/

Amazon Redshift is a part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. It is one of the most popular and the most preferred Data Warehouses out of all the options available in the market. Various brands such as McDonald’s, Intuit, etc use Amazon Redshift as their Data Warehouse. Amazon Redshift allows developers to query large volumes of Structured and Semi-Structured Data. Amazon Redshift uses AWS infrastructure to provide a quality user experience. AWS also allows you to connect your Amazon Redshift Clusters to the AWS BI Service called Amazon QuickSight for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence requirements.

Amazon Redshift Pricing

Amazon Redshift offers a two-month free trial following which the user has to start paying. Refer to this for details on Amazon Redshift pricing.

More information on Amazon Redshift can be found here.

2) Snowflake

Snowflake Logo
Image Source: https://docs.snowflake.com/en/user-guide/warehouses.html

Snowflake is a Data Warehousing solution that allows your business to become more data-driven. One of the biggest advantages of using Snowflake over other Data Warehouses is that Snowflake has a per-second pricing model which means that you only pay for what you use. Snowflake also allows you to scale Storage and Compute Nodes independently which means that you can deploy each node separately instead of deploying and paying for the Integrated Bundle.

Snowflake Pricing

Snowflake offers a 30-day free trial following which the user has to start paying. Refer to this for details on Snowflake pricing.

More information on Snowflake can be found here.

3) Google BigQuery

Google BigQuery Logo
Image Source: https://www.pikpng.com/transpng/ibobwTh/

Google BigQuery is Google’s Data Warehousing solution and a part of Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google BigQuery uses SQL queries and was built to analyze data having billions of records. It is a serverless technology that uses columnar storage for faster data scanning along with a Tree Architecture model that makes querying and aggregation significantly faster. GCP also allows you to integrate Google BigQuery with its BI tool called Google Data Studio for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence requirements.

Google BigQuery Pricing

Google BigQuery offers a 90-day free trial following which the user has to start paying. Refer to this for details on Google BigQuery pricing.

More information on Google BigQuery can be found here.

Understanding Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence
Image Source: https://www.inovaprime.com/business-intelligence-transform-data-into-successful-decisions/

Business Intelligence (BI) can be defined as a set of processes and technologies that can be used to convert the raw data of any organization into actionable insights that drive the organization’s tactical and strategic business decisions in order to generate maximum profit. Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence solutions are usually required together since a quality analysis cannot be performed if the data integrated from all data sources is not present in a centralized database.

The various advantages of Business Intelligence are:

  • Faster Reporting: Use of a Business Intelligence Tool would lead to faster analysis of data for insight generation which would have otherwise taken a long period of time if done manually.
  • Increased Operational Efficiency: Use of Business Intelligence would allow businesses to understand what their customers want and hence what services their team should be working on providing. Having a clear goal in mind would increase operational efficiency drastically.
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction: Since the services being provided by the business would be based on an accurate analysis of what the customers want, it would lead to high customer satisfaction since all or most of their requirements would be fulfilled.
  • Increased Profitability: Since there is an increase in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, it would obviously lead to an increase in profit due to a decrease in the extra amount spent because of operational inefficiency and an increase in revenue due to customer satisfaction.

Understanding the Need for Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is necessary for any business because of the following reasons:

  • It can enhance the quality of decision-making.
  • It is used to create and keep a track of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which can be used as a measure of how well a business is achieving its desired objectives.
  • It can be used to identify various market trends and business problems.

Top Business Intelligence Tools

Some of the best Business Intelligence Tools available in the market are as follows:

1) Looker

Looker Logo
Image Source: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/looker

Looker is a Business Intelligence Tool which is part of the Google Cloud. One of the most significant advantages of using Looker over other BI tools is that it allows you to perform any analysis you wish to on live data using its own SQL-like querying language called LookML. Looker also has its own tool for data integration called DataVirtuality Pipes, which allows you to integrate data from multiple sources into a central Data Warehouse directly leveraged by Looker for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence needs.

Looker Pricing

Looker does not offer a transparent pricing model. The pricing is based on the user’s business and data needs and can be finalized upon discussion with the sales team at Looker. You can request a demo or quote on the Looker website.

Looker Pricing
Image Source: https://looker.com/product/pricing

More information on Looker can be found here.

2) Tableau

Tableau Logo
Image Source: https://www.tableau.com/about/media-download-center

Tableau is considered to be one of the most powerful and fastest-growing Business Intelligence Tools. It has various customizations and features such as data blending, real-time analysis, etc., that allow raw data to be converted into a form that anyone can understand.

It also offers a large number of products as a part of its suite. These products are Tableau Desktop, Tableau Public, Tableau Online, Tableau Server, and Tableau Reader. Tableau also allows you to connect to a large number of Data Warehouses and hence, can be considered a perfect addition to your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence suite.

Tableau Pricing

Tableau offers a 14-day free trial following which the user has to choose one of its three tiers as follows:

  • For Individuals: Includes a single User License for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder along with a Creator License for Tableau Server and Tableau Online. 
Tableau Individual Pricing
Image Source: https://www.tableau.com/pricing/individual
  • For Teams and Organizations: Tableau allows large teams and organizations to use Tableau only on Tableau Server. If the server can be hosted on the On-premise hardware or Public Cloud offerings of the organization, the pricing per user is as follows:
Tableau Teams Pricing
Image Source: https://www.tableau.com/pricing/teams-orgs

If the organization wishes to use a fully-hosted online solution for Tableau Server, the pricing per user is as follows:

Tableau Hosting Pricing
Image Source: https://www.tableau.com/pricing/teams-orgs#online
  • Embedded Analytics: Offers automatic creation of visualization using powerful analytical tools controlled by a set of robust APIs.
Tableau Embedded Analytics Pricing
Image Source: https://www.tableau.com/pricing/embedded

More information on Tableau can be found here.

3) Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI Logo
Image Source: https://sereviso.com/power-bi-brief-overview/

Microsoft Power BI can be seen as a collection of Business Intelligence, Reporting, and Visualization Tools. One of the biggest advantages of using Microsoft Power BI over other tools is that it offers easy integration with all Microsoft products and services.

Microsoft Power BI Pricing

Microsoft Power BI offers a Free version with limited functionality, a Pro version, and a Premium version. A comparison of the pricing for both paid options is as follows:

Microsoft Power BI Pricing
Image Source: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/

More information on Microsoft Power BI can be found here.

4) SAP BusinessObjects

SAP BusinessObjects Logo
Image Source: https://www.consnet.co.za/analytics-solution/sap-businessobjects-logo/

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence is a central suite of Analytics and Reporting Tools. It allows users to create reports, visualize data and share them with whoever they want to.

SAP BusinessObjects Pricing

SAP BusinessObjects does not offer a transparent pricing model. The cost can be finalized after a discussion with the SAP team. You can request a demo or quote on the official website.

SAP BusinessObjects Pricing
Image Source: https://www.sap.com/india/products/bi-platform.html

More information on SAP BusinessObjects can be found here.

5) Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio Logo
Image Source: https://www.calltrackingmetrics.com/products/integrations/google-data-studio/

Google Data Studio is a free Data Visualization Tool by Google. Google Data Studio allows you to create visual and informative reports that can be shared with anyone. It can also be easily integrated with Google BigQuery for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence needs.

Google Data Studio Pricing

Google Data Studio is currently available free of charge for all its users.

Google Data Studio Pricing
Image Source: https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/data-studio/

More information on Google Data Studio can be found here.

Conclusion

This article provided you with an in-depth understanding of what Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence are and why they’re necessary. It also provided you with a list of the best Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Tools available. The most important task before any analysis can be performed on the data is ensuring that it is loaded correctly into the Data Warehouse in a form suitable for analysis. Businesses can either choose to make their own ETL solutions in-house or use existing platforms like Hevo. Hevo provides a No-code Data Pipeline allowing you to integrate data from all your sources for your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence requirements.

Get started with Hevo by signing up for the 14-day free trial today. More details on Hevo’s Pricing can be found here.

No-code Data Pipeline For Your Data Warehouse