What is a Data Warehouse?


Keep hearing about data warehouses but not really sure how it applies to your business? You aren’t alone. Simply put, a data warehouse is a central place where your data is stored. That data is collected and combined from many different sources and can include both current and historical data. The main advantage is, by housing all of your organization’s data in one place, you gain full control over how your data is stored and queried in the future.

There are two main categories of data warehouses: cloud and on-premises. While both have valid use cases, most businesses today find cloud computing in some form or fashion a necessity for modernity. Cloud-based data warehouses have become increasingly popular due to their innate flexibility and scalability. In fact, 96% of respondents in Rightscale’s 2018 cloud computing report leverage a cloud-based data warehouse.

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A Data Warehouse Foundation

More holistically, you can think of a data warehouse as the foundation to your data goals. We often describe it as the overlooked puzzle-piece to becoming a truly data-driven organization. Before you can successfully leverage machine learning, business intelligence, and more, you need a sound data foundation in place. Your data warehouse delivers just that.

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Why Invest in a Data Warehouse?

At the end of the day, a data warehouse’s true value lies in its ability to produce insightful reports, quickly. Take for example the line of questioning at your executive or board-level. These tend to be very high-level inquiries that require a holistic, “eagle eye” view of the organization. And very rarely can these questions be answered using a single data source or surface-level report.

Without a data warehouse, you’re sent on a data mission, compiling information and multiple spreadsheets across your financials, CRM, Google Analytics, helpdesk, and more. The end result is often a piecemeal effort that never fully captures the entire picture.

Instead, when all of these disparate data sources are channeled into one place, conducting this type of analysis is as easy as running a query in your data warehouse or by leveraging your data visualization tool of choice. That is the real value of a data warehouse. When all of your data is combined and aggregated in a clean, concise manner, your data reporting and visualization becomes that much better. Not to mention accurate.

Still unsure if your organization could truly benefit from a data warehouse? Consider the value of these use cases, made possible by a data warehouse.

A data warehouse enables you to:

  • Create hyper-customizable, ad hoc reports using multiple data sources
  • Predict future growth, identify bottlenecks, and reveal pain points
  • Leverage statistical algorithms similar to those used in machine learning, AI, and data science
  • Consolidate data from multiple, diverse data sources
  • Query key performance indicators in real-time alongside operational analytics to evaluate team performance.

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