Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: SYS-CON ITALIA, Containers Expo Blog

SYS-CON ITALIA: Article

Cloud Computing: Making Analytics in the Cloud a Reality

There will soon be a myriad of announcements of DBMS offerings in the cloud

There will soon be a myriad of announcements of DBMS offerings in the cloud. Many of these will NOT be marriages made in heaven. However, the most innovative new DBMS software combined with new cloud computing services are here today and truly take advantage of the cloud architecture in order to change the economics and the responsiveness of business analytics.

My belief is that cloud computing will change the economics of business intelligence (BI) and enable a variety of new analytic data management projects and business possibilities. It does so by making the hardware, networking, security, and software needed to create data marts and data warehouses available on demand with a pay-as-you-go approach to usage and licensing.

A computing cloud, such as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, is composed of thousands of commodity servers running multiple virtual machine instances (VMs) of the applications hosted in the cloud. As customer demand for those applications changes, new servers are added to the cloud or idled and new VMs are instantiated or terminated.

Cloud computing infrastructure differs dramatically from the infrastructure underlying most in-house data warehouses and data marts. There are no high-end servers with dozens of CPU cores, SANs, replicated systems, or proprietary data warehousing appliances available in the cloud. Therefore, a new DBMS software architecture is required to enable large volumes of data to be analyzed quickly and reliably on the cloud's commodity hardware. Recent DBMS innovations make this a reality today, and the best cloud DBMS architectures will include:

  1. Shared-nothing, massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture. In order to drive down the cost of creating a utility computing environment, the best cloud service providers use huge grids of identical (or similar) computing elements. Each node in the grid is typically a compute engine with its own attached storage. For a cloud database to successfully "scale out" in such an environment, it is essential that the database have a shared-nothing architecture utilizing the resources (CPU, memory, and disk) found in server nodes added to the cluster. Most databases popularly used in BI today have shared-everything or shared-storage architectures, which will limit their ability to scale in the cloud.

  2. Automatic high availability. Within a cloud-based analytic database cluster, node failures, node changes, and connection disruptions can occur. Given the vast number of processing elements within a cloud, these failures can be made transparent to the end user if the database has the proper built-in failover capabilities. The best cloud databases will replicate data automatically across the nodes in the cloud cluster, be able to continue running in the event of 1 or more node failures ("k-safety"), and be capable of restoring data on recovered nodes automatically -- without DBA assistance. Ideally, the replicated data will be made "active" in different sort orders for querying to increase performance.

  3. Ultra-high performance. One of the game-changing advantages of the cloud is the ability to get an analytic application up quickly (without waiting for hardware procurement). However, there can be some performance penalty due to Internet connectivity speeds and the virtualized cloud environment. If the analytic performance is disappointing, the advantage is lost. Fortunately, the latest shared-nothing columnar databases are designed specifically for analytic workloads, and they have demonstrated dramatic performance improvements over traditional, row-oriented databases (as verified by industry experts, such as Gartner and Forrester, and by customer benchmarks). This software performance improvement, coupled with the hardware economies of scale provided by the cloud environment, results in a new economic model and competitive advantage for cloud analytics.

  4. Aggressive compression. Since cloud costs are typically driven by charges for processor and disk storage utilization, aggressive data compression will result in very large cost savings. Row-oriented databases can achieve compression factors of about 30% to 50%; however, the addition of necessary indexes and materialized views often swells databases to 2 to 5 times the size of the source data. But since the data in a column tends to be more similar and repetitive than attributes within rows, column databases often achieve much higher levels of compression. They also don't require indexes. The result is normally a 4x to 20x reduction in the amount of storage needed by columnar databases and a commensurate reduction in storage costs.

  5. Standards-based connectivity. While there are a number of special-purpose file systems that have been developed for the cloud environment that can provide high performance, they lack the standard connectivity needed to support general-purpose business analytics. The broad base of analytic users will use existing commercial ETL and reporting software that depend on SQL, JDBC, ODBC, and other DBMS connectivity standards to load and query cloud databases. Therefore, it's imperative for cloud databases to support these connection standards to enable widespread use of analytic applications.
In summary, cloud databases with the architectural characteristics described above will be able to not just run in the cloud, but thrive there by:

  • "Scaling out," as the cloud itself does
  • Running fast without high-end or custom hardware
  • Providing high availability in a fluid computing environment
  • Minimizing data storage, transfer, and CPU utilization (to keep cloud computing fees low)

More Stories By Jerry Held

Jerry Held is Executive Chairman of Vertica and CEO of the Held Consulting Group, a firm that provides strategic consulting to CEOs and senior executives of technology firms ranging from startups to very large organizations and private equity firms. Prior to his current position, Held was a senior executive at both Oracle Corp. and Tandem Computers.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.