There are a lot of misconceived notions that cloud solutions have speed constraints leading to latency and have huge security vulnerabilities. These thoughts and some others have many companies move the cloud solution option to the bottom of the pile and that is simple not a good option for the business. To address the first notion that cloud solutions have speed constraints leading to latency, I think is misleading when people state that. If your warehouse and your visualization tool are all in the same cloud infrastructure then I do not think latency will be an issue at all. It is when your warehouse is in the cloud and visualization tool is hosted on premise is when you can see a little latency if any at all. Both AWS and Azure offer tools to support high speed on-premise to cloud technologies. AWS calls its tool Direct Connect and Azure call theirs ExpressRoute. Direct Connect and ExpressRoute are essentially private cloud connections that offer faster speeds, more reliability, lower latencies, and higher security than standard Internet connections. These tools essentially connect your network (private) directly to your cloud provider without crossing the public internet. The second notion in reference to security vulnerabilities. Lets address physical security first. AWS and Microsoft have invested a lot of money into the physical security around protecting their infrastructure and it greatly exceeds any normal IT environment. Now for data security that is something that you have complete control of. Yes it is a little more complex than your traditional on-premise environment but if done properly your data is just as secure. Use all the security control tools that are available deterrent, preventative, detective and corrective and along with creating policies and using best practices you will put in place some outstanding data security measures that will allow everyone in the business to sleep good at night. There are many books out that review this topic in great detail, I do suggest investing in one or two and further educate yourself in this area.
In my opinion cloud based solutions, especially for small to midsize companies is an excellent option and can provide enterprise like excellent performance and availability. I also believe that most companies can really reap the benefits from the cloud solution which typically can lower cost, scale easier, and be up and running very quickly. Two cloud warehouse solutions you should definitely look at are AWS Redshift and Google Big Query. These are the two leaders in the industry and they have proven themselves as reliable and scalable. If you do review them please reach out to me and let me know your thoughts and which one you decided to go with and why.
How much does it cost?
This question is usually the first asked question by the executive team. If your executive team does not ask this within the first five minutes of your conversation then you have a team that is investing in doing the right thing by looking at what technology is best for the business and not worried about cost. There will be a difference in cost on what solution you do pick whether it is the cloud solution or an on-prem. With an on-prem solution you will have bigger capital expenses as well as the cost of additional software licenses depending what database you choose for your data warehouse and what operating system that database needs to run on. These expenses include but are not limited to hardware (server(s), network switches, ups, etc), space, and power consumption. Do not forgot about the human cost on maintenance of the servers and the database. The cloud solution will already have server, power and space included in the price. The server patches as well as patches to the database will be taken care for you with the cloud solution so no worries about additional man hours around those areas as a monthly resource cost.
There are plenty of articles and tools out there they go over on how to calculate the cost of on-prem and cloud solutions and they are very informative. One of the tools I use often is the AWS total cost of ownership tool https://aws.amazon.com/tco-calculator/. This tool will assist you in seeing how AWS can reduce your capital expenses in a project such as implementing a business intelligence solution as well provide you some very detailed reports that you can utilize in your presentation to management. The one thing I will say if you are only implementing a one server solution the cloud solution might cost a little more but will give you several advantages. In my next blog I will talk about some of those advantages in detail.