Relational Database Solutions “In a Box”
Several of the relational database software vendors, such as IBM, Oracle, and Teradata have developed proprietary data warehouse software to be tightly coupled with server hardware to maximize performance. These solutions have been developed and refined as “on-prem” solutions for many years.
We’ve seen the rise of “Database (DW) as a Service” from companies like Amazon, who sell Redshift services.
Amazon Redshift is a fast, fully managed data warehouse that makes it simple and cost-effective to analyze all your data using standard SQL and your existing Business Intelligence (BI) tools. It allows you to run complex analytic queries against petabytes of structured data, using sophisticated query optimization, columnar storage on high-performance local disks, and massively parallel query execution. Most results come back in seconds.
RDB Complex Software/Hardware Maintenance
In recent times, the traditional relational database software vendors shifted gears to become service providers offering maximum performance from a solution hosted by them, the vendor, in the Cloud. On the positive side, the added complexity of configuring and tuning a blended software/hardware data warehouse has been shifted from the client’s team resources such as Database Administrators (DBAs), Network Administrators, Unix/Windows Server Admins,… to the database software service provider. The complexity of tuning for scalability, and other maintenance challenges shifts to the software vendor’s expertise, if that’s the abstraction you select. There is some ambiguity in the delineation of responsibilities with the RDBMS vendor’s cloud offerings.
Total Cost of Ownership
Quantifying the total cost of ownership of a solution may be a bit tricky, especially if you’re trying to quantify the RDBMS hybrid software/hardware “on-prem” solution versus the same or similar capabilities brought to the client via “Database (DW) as a Service”.
“On-Prem”, RDB Client Hosted Solution
Several factors need to be considered when selecting ANY software and/or Hardware to be hosted at the client site.
- Infrastructure “when in Rome”
- Organizations have a quantifiable cost related to hosting physical or virtual servers in the client’s data center and may be boiled down to a number that may include things like HVAC, or new rack space.
- Resources used to maintain/monitor DC usage, there may be an abstracted/blended figure.
- Database Administrators maintain and monitor RDB solutions.
- Activities may range from RDB patches/upgrades to resizing/scaling the DB storage “containers”.
- Application Database Admins/Developers may be required to maintain the data warehouse architecture, such as new requirements, e.g. creating aggregate tables for BI analysis.
- Network Administrators
- Firewalls, VPN
- Port Scanning
- Windows/Unix Server Administrators
- OS Patches
Trying to correlate these costs in some type of “Apples to Apples” comparison to the “Data Warehouse as a Service” may require accountants and technical folks to do extensive financial modeling to make the comparison. Vendors, such as Oracle, offer fully managed services to the opposite end of the spectrum, the “Bare Metal”, essentially the “Infra as a Service.” The Oracle Exadata solution can be a significant investment depending on the investment in redundancy and scalability leveraging Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC).
Support and Staffing Models for DW Cloud Vendors
In order for the traditional RDB software vendors to accommodate a “Data Warehouse as a Service” model, they may need to significantly increase staff for a variety of technical disciplines, as outlined above with the Client “On-Prem” model. A significant ramp-up of staff and the organizational challenges of developing and implementing a support model based on a variety of factors may have relational database vendors ask: Should they leverage a top tier consulting agency such as Accenture, or Deloitte to define, implement, and refine a managed service? It’s certainly a tall order to go from a software vendor to offering large scale services. With corporate footprints globally and positive track records implementing managed services of all types, it’s an attractive proposition for both the RDB vendor and the consulting agency who wins the bid. Looking at the DW Service billing models don’t seem sensical on some level. Any consulting agency who implements a DW managed service would be responsible to ensure ROI both for the RDS vendor and their clients. It may be opaque to the end client leveraging the Data Warehouse as a Service, but certainly, the quality of service provided should be nothing less than if implemented by the RDB vendor itself. If the end game for the RDB vendor is for the consulting agency to implement, and mature the service then at some point bring the service in-house, it could help to keep costs down while maturing the managed service.
Here are URLs for reference to understand the capabilities that are realized through Oracle’s managed services.
Note: The opinions shared here are my own.