BI On A Budget - InformationWeek
Software // Information Management
04:22 PM

BI On A Budget

Budget constraints are a fact of life. Yet, business intelligence is an essential capability for meeting strategic and operational objectives. Here's practical advice about how to get what you need without breaking the bank.

Microsoft (MS) Analysis Services is an excellent online analytic processing (OLAP) server. The Analysis Services technology is relatively inexpensive when compared with traditional OLAP servers from vendors such as Hyperion and MicroStrategy. Nevertheless, Microsoft's product is often overlooked because project planners think it runs only on the vendor's SQL Server. That's not the case; you can implement and exploit all the value of Analysis Services while sourcing data from Oracle, IBM's DB2, or NCR's Teradata.

Combining MS Analytics with databases from leading providers will give you an excellent OLAP server solution. For the big companies squeezing into a tight budget, or midsized companies looking to address corporatewide OLAP, this nontraditional architecture combination is effective as well as inexpensive.

ETL Lite with SyncSort

The leading relational DBMS vendors argue passionately about their feature and scalability differentiators, but remember that they do have at least a few things in common. For instance, they all offer an ETL tool that can best be described as "ETL lite." The database vendors are less concerned with having the full-featured ETL that specialized vendors, such as Ascential Software or Informatica, offer. Instead, they're focused on maintaining a full BI product suite. The database vendors capture market share through aggressive pricing and product bundling. For example, Oracle bundles its Warehouse Builder v. 9.2 (OWB) into Oracle's Internet Developer suite. If your company has invested in Oracle Enterprise, then you probably already have a license for OWB and may not even realize it. Similarly, Microsoft users can take advantage of Data Transformation Services (DTS), which the company bundles into MS SQL Server.

Are these ETL lite tools of any value if they don't meet all your ETL requirements, no matter how inexpensive? The simple answer is "yes." The vast majority of ETL activity is standard, straightforward sorting, integrating, aggregating, and transforming. Many who invest in a full-featured ETL could achieve much of the same functionality by using the less-expensive OWB or DTS tools, especially if it is supplemented with a high-performance sorting tool, such as SyncSort. Through proprietary sorting algorithms, I/O optimization, and dynamic monitoring, SyncSort accelerates ETL transactions, data mining, and clickstream processing up to 90 percent for applications in data warehousing, data mining, CRM, ERP, and decision support.

This ETL lite and SyncSort combination allows you to take advantage of price without creating more work. The ETL lite tool provides the formal framework to create, schedule, and maintain your ETL processing. Then, products such as SyncSort can do all the heavy lifting; that is, the sorting, integrating, transforming, and aggregating that can't be addressed by the ETL lite tool. SyncSort would simply be called when necessary from within the ETL lite application.

It isn't unusual to see companies purchase SyncSort to improve the performance of their full-featured ETL products. Budget-conscious companies should consider combining these types of products before making any final ETL product decisions.

Teradata with Microsoft

Most BI project planners never consider a combination of Teradata, from NCR's Teradata Division, and Microsoft Analytics. But in fact, not only does this architectural combination work: It's possibly the most effective approach for certain BI applications. I mentioned Teradata and Microsoft Analysis Services earlier; here I'd like to focus on data mining and advanced analytics.

For Teradata customers, whether they want to perform forecasting and prediction or simply want an effective data profiling tool, I highly recommend Teradata Warehouse Miner (TWM). All of its mining functions run can inside Teradata Warehouse — or anywhere that you can execute SQL. This approach saves significant money because it exploits the Teradata Warehouse platform investment your organization has already made.

2 of 4
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll