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.
The Agile ArchiveWhen it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
2014 Analytics, BI, and Information Management SurveyITís tried for years to simplify data analytics and business intelligence efforts. Have visual analysis tools and Hadoop and NoSQL databases helped? Respondents to our 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey have a mixed outlook.