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Executive Summary

Data Warehouse Appliances: Achieving the Business Value

This research report examines the nature and importance of data warehouse appliances to the area of business intelligence (BI) and specifically to data warehousing within the information technology (IT) infrastructure of an enterprise. The primary audiences for this research are business executives as well as IT managers, data warehouse architects and database administrators. The focus of the report is as an educational piece for organizations that want to achieve business value from the adoption of a data warehouse appliance. This report builds on the 2007 BeyeNETWORK research study – Data Warehouse Appliances: Evolution or Revolution – conducted by Richard Hackathorn and Colin White.

The data warehouse appliance marketplace has moved beyond early adoption and into the mainstream. As the buzz surrounding data warehouse appliances increases, companies are struggling for a clear understanding about data warehouse appliances. In particular, they are searching for the appropriate use of a data warehouse appliance and the compelling justification to the business for using a data warehouse appliance. This research report clarifies the marketing claims and the expected business value.

The objective of this research report is to analyze the current state of the art in data warehouse appliance technology and products, and to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and benefits of an appliance approach to data warehousing. The report also looks at how organizations are using appliances in their data warehousing projects, and includes results of a survey that gauged industry perceptions about the value and acceptance of data warehouse appliances.

The components of this research report are threefold. First, a framework and procedure are suggested to evaluate the purpose, convenience and value of an appliance product. Second, a survey was conducted of more than two hundred BI professionals about their perceptions and experiences with data warehouse appliances. And third, three case studies were written to document the best practices for data warehouse appliance projects.

The survey shows the current perceptions and experiences with data warehouse appliance projects are positive. In particular, the vast majority (66%) of the surveyed BI professionals felt that data warehouse appliance products are a viable technology. A majority (53%) of these BI professionals is involved with data warehouse appliance projects from evaluating to production. Those professionals who were in production consider their data warehouse appliance projects as performing well and meeting their needs (88%). And, no one felt that their data warehouse appliance project was a disaster.

The interviews show the best practices for data warehouse appliance projects. In particular, clear business objectives continue to be the primary success factor for IT projects in general, and data warehouse appliance projects are no exception. Further, a well-planned and well-resourced proof of concept effort that captures a realistic workload profile is essential to a successful data warehouse appliance project.

In general, this research report shows that data warehouse appliance adoptions are having disruptive impacts on the database marketplace and are changing the way business intelligence professionals think about the viability of large analytical databases.

Read the entire study.