Data warehouse users avoid ‘rip and replace’ option

When upgrading data warehousing infrastructure, seventy-five per cent of enterprises favour incremental augmentation of their current platform as opposed to starting over with an entirely new system, according to a survey.

Data warehouses store an organization’s historical data, which is often used to aid management’s decision support system. It could be used to track sales figures for a company or employee attendance patterns.

Organizations cited high costs, time constraints, and an overall difficulty in getting budget approval as contributing factors driving them away from “rip and replace” solutions and toward alternative upgrade solutions. The report said that data warehousing administrators are being asked to find more complex query reporting methods for across multiple databases within the enterprise. Building a whole new platform to do this, according to the survey, can be counterproductive in reaching that goal.

“The reason people don’t want these rip and replace solutions is that every time you take out a piece of your existing environment, you are pulling out an instrumental piece of the puzzle,” Samantha Stone, vice-president of marketing at Dataupia, said. “There’s a big ripple effect in how it can affect the overall organization and all of the other applications that are dependent on your infrastructure.”

The study, which was conducted jointly by Cambridge, Ma.-based data solution provider Dataupia and Boulder, Co.-based research group Business Intelligence Networks, found that cost and budgeting concerns were another reason for most companies to look for alternatives. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said a new platform would cost $500,000 to implement, while 46 per cent said the cost would reach between $1 and $3 million.

“When you start to look at budget dollars that huge, a company has to plan for that type of expenditure in advance,” Shawn Rogers, executive editor of the Business Intelligence Network’s, said. “You’re talking about sign-off levels all the way up to the board level for companies looking at this type of infrastructure change.”

Rogers said that migrating or upgrading from legacy systems is an issue found in most IT sectors, but because the data warehousing industry is going through a maturing stage, the problem has become a significant issue in the space.

“Fifteen years ago, when everybody was installing those first data warehouses they worked just fine,” Rogers said. “Now we’re finding ourselves with prolific data grow, mergers and acquisitions that are affecting the infrastructure that’s underneath the data warehousing. The idea of trying to rip everything that you’ve got already and rebuild it from scratch is a pretty scary and one that some cases companies can’t even fathom.”

According to Stone, this intimidation factor can often lead companies to confusion as to what alternatives they can take in implementing a data warehousing upgrade. She said Dataupia wants to allow its customers to make the changes they need, without any disruptions the core infrastructure. Stone said she’s talked to many organizations afraid of changing what they have because of the horror stories they’ve heard from other companies going through a “rip and replace” process as well as the difficulty in budgeting the expansive project.

“We looked at how long it would take just to secure the budget for a complete platform change and 53 per cent said it would take one to three years,” Stone said. “In that time, your business needs and the amount of data you have has grown and changed so much that it makes it almost an impossible planning task to think about it from a budgeting standpoint.”

Dataupia’s solution is a data management system, the Dataupia Satori Server, which offers a server, storage and optimization software appliance that transparently leverages existing database infrastructure to enable greater access to data across the different areas of the organization.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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