December 10, 2012, 3:14 PM — The single biggest news coming from Amazon Web Service's first user conference recently was the launch of the company's newest service, Redshift, a cloud-based data warehouse tool. And it prompts the question: Is the cloud the right place for data warehousing?
AWS officials say for businesses struggling to manage their data, the cloud can provide a low-cost alternative to investing in infrastructure to manage it all on their own sites. Perhaps the biggest issues holding back Redshift are the same concerns that come along with using the public cloud in general, though. Some just don't feel comfortable putting sensitive financial or personally identifiable data in anyone's public cloud. And then there's the issue of how all that data is actually transferred into the cloud.
These issues -- a combination of potential benefits related to cost and manageability, combined with concerns about security and data transfer -- will likely mean that Redshift follows the path of many of AWS's other enterprise-geared services, says Jeff Kelly, a big-data researcher at The Wikibon Project. Forward-looking businesses that have already embraced Amazon's cloud may move more quickly to the cloud for services like data warehousing, whereas larger enterprises that have been slow to jump into the public cloud may test the service on a use-case basis to see if it's the right fit for them.
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Data warehouses have traditionally been defined as customized data storage services that aggregate data from multiple different sources and collect it in a central location to be able to run reports and queries of it. Many companies use data warehouses to compile regular financial reports or business metric analyses. Redshift is a column/SQL-based tool designed to scale from a terabyte up to multiple petabyte size.