Key Criteria for Evaluating Data Warehouses v2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers


Data warehouse platforms are a stable part of the enterprise technology landscape, and have been a go-to solution for many years within organizations for managing data at scale. More recently, new features are emerging that have transformed data warehouses from their traditional technology role to the modern, flexible, cloud-based big data platforms they are today.

These innovations include advancements to the platforms themselves, as well as improvements that allow them to integrate with a wide ecosystem of external tools. Longstanding breakthroughs include massively parallel processing, columnar storage, and vector processing. More recently, data warehouses have accumulated several advantages that the cloud brings, including scalability derived from separated compute and storage, ease of setup, cost effectiveness, and optimizations for concurrency. Integrations include those with business intelligence (BI) tools, machine learning (ML) tools, security and governance capabilities, and other elements of vendors’ cloud application suites.

Data warehouses are a core component of many organizations’ data management strategies, and choosing one is a weighty decision. This report aims to inform and assist organizations in that decision-making process to help them make the best-informed decisions possible about the platform that best suits their needs. First, we include a primer to provide an overview of the technologies involved in data warehouses, then we walk through a list of the key criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting a data warehouse platform.

Key Findings

  • Data warehouses are widely known and trusted solutions that enterprises have been using for many years to manage and analyze huge amounts of data within their organizations. They are a core component of an enterprise’s data management strategy.
  • The cloud has been a major innovation catalyst in the data warehousing category, introducing concepts such as auto-scaling and elasticity, concurrency, freedom from physical appliances, and usage-based pricing. All data warehouse vendors have some cloud option. Some platforms are cloud-native, some are designed to encourage customers to migrate their existing systems to the cloud, and others support a hybrid approach between cloud and on-premises, or implementations across multiple public clouds. Most of the category’s future focus and new development is now in the cloud, and we see this trend as irreversible.
  • Vendors are developing and including more sophisticated built-in and integrated machine learning, business intelligence/analysis functions, and other tools. Vendors, including cloud providers, are also integrating their data warehouse products with other elements of their enterprise suites to create overarching unified data platforms. We expect to see this trend continue as vendors work to remain competitive.
  • Integration with data lakes for in-place querying of structured and unstructured data is becoming more widespread.
  • Some vendors are including features that make their platforms more appealing to and usable by business users, including semantic business layers and role-based user experiences, another trend we expect will continue.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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