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BigQuery: Data Warehouse in the Clouds

11.01.2012
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There are a lot of changes occurring these days with the Big Data revolution such as cloud computing, NoSQL, Columnar stores, and virtualization just to mention a few of the fast moving technologies that are transforming how we manage our data and run our IT operations. Big Data, powered by technologies such as Hadoop and NoSQL, is changing how many enterprises manage their data warehousing and scale their analytics reporting. Storing terabytes of data, and even petabytes, is now in the reach of any enterprise that can afford to spend the money on potentially hundreds or thousands of commodity cores and disks to run parallel and distributed processing engines like MapReduce for instance. But is Hadoop the right fit for everyone? Are their alternatives, especially for those that want more reat-time big data analytics? Read on.

A Little Background on Hadoop

With Hadoop and many related types of large distributed clustered systems, managing hundreds if not thousands of cpus, cores and disks is a serious system administration challenge for any enterprise big or small. Cloud based Hadoop engines like Amazon EMR and Google Hadoop make this a little easier, but these cloud solutions are not ideal for typical long-running data analytics because of the time it takes to setup the virtual instances and spray the data out of S3 and into the virtual data nodes. And then you have to tear down everything after you are done with your MapReduce/HDFS instances to avoid paying big dollars for long running VMs. Not to mention you have to copy your data back out of HDFS and back into S3 before your ephemeral data nodes are shutdown - not ideal for any serious Big Data analtyics. 

Then there is the fact that Hadoop and MapReduce are batch oriented and thus not ideal for real-time analytics. So while we have taken many steps forward in technology evolution, the system administration challenges in managing large Hadoop clusters, for example, is still a problem and cloud based Hadoop has many limitations and restrictions as already mentioned. In its current form, cloud based Hadoop solutions are too expensive for long running cluster processing and not ideal for long-term distributed data storage. Not to mention the fact that virtualization and Hadoop are not a great fit just yet given the current state of virtualization and public cloud hardware and software technology - this is a separate discussion.

The BigQuery Alternative

So if I want to build a serious enterprise scale Big Data Warehouse it sounds like I have to build it myself and manage myself. Now, enter into the picture Google BigQuery and Dremel. BigQuery is a serious game changer in a number of ways. First it truly pushes big data into the clouds and even more importantly it pushes the system administration of the cluster (basically a multi-tenant Google super cluster) into the clouds and leaves this type of admin work to people (like Google) that are very good at this sort of thing. Second it is truly multi-tenant from the ground up, so efficient utilization of system resources is greatly improved, something Hadoop is currently weak at.

Put your Data Warehouse in the Cloud

So now given all this, what if you could build your data warehouse and analytics engine in the clouds with BigQuery? BigQuery gives you massive data storage to house your data sets and powerful SQL like language called Dremel for building your analytics and reports. Think of BigQuery as one of your datamarts where you can store both fast and slow changing dimensions of your data warehouse in BigQuery's cloud storage tables. Then using Dremel you can build near real-time and complex analytical queries and run all this against terabytes of data. And all of this is available to you without buying or managing any Big Data hardware clusters!

For full article and discussion on BigQuery in clouds read more….
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