The Hidden Cost of Your BI Implementation: Proprietary Databases

The Hidden Cost of Your BI Implementation: Proprietary Databases

You can get locked in with desktop BI tools utilizing proprietary in-memory databases. Break free and choose databases that suit you best.


How often do you read terms and conditions? Occasionally?

How about for free wifi?

Yeah, nearly never.

That’s how 22,000 people unwittingly legally bound themselves to 1000 hours of community service, including cleaning portable toilets at festivals, scraping chewing gum off the streets and painting snail shells “to brighten up their existence”. They signed up to this when logging onto free wifi at hotspots around the UK served by Purple. A clever publicity stunt, but it proved its point about the lack of awareness of what people sign up to.

The thing is, you could just as easily find your business is signing up to BI platforms with proprietary databases that have the small print “this database is incompatible with any other BI platform”.

You’ll quickly discover that many of the leading BI tools will require you to use their proprietary databases. That’s fine, to an extent. They’re custom built to be fast and do the job. The sticking point comes when you want to change platforms.


The desktop BI database lock-in

The initial revolution

When they arrived, desktop BI tools were a liberation for many users. Tableau, Qlik and others freed BI power-users from having to rely on IT to provide access to data; and from having to utilise inflexible legacy BI platforms to analyse that data. Users no longer had to join the queue when they needed insights, instead they were empowered to obtain and analyse data themselves using a data discovery process. For many users, these tools reduced reliance on Excel which was limited in terms of volume and its ability to handle complex data. ­­­­

Soon, many skilled users were downloading data onto their own desktops and storing that data in the proprietary databases that came with these tools. They were able to build visualisations and obtain insight through a self-service model, bypassing IT entirely. It was all about speed. Provided the data sets were not too large, data could be accessed and analysed relatively quickly.

The lock-in

Whilst these new tools provided greater flexibility for power users, they came at a cost. Not least, a proliferation of enterprise data in an un-governed and un-controlled fashion – making it difficult to control and audit access and to ensure consistent definitions and use of data.

The catch though was that once the data was stored in these databases, they could only be accessed by that particular vendor’s tool. Meaning that if and when you want to switch to a new platform, you might find yourself with an enormous amount of work to do and your investment in structuring and building these databases is lost.

If you’re already locked in, you might just end up sticking with what you’ve got, stuck with rising software costs with no way out, unable to take advantage of other databases and tools that could allow you to scale up and run more complex analysis.

Or, you could choose a BI platform that doesn’t have those restrictions.


Your alternative: database freedom

If you’re focused on speed, desktop BI tools utilising proprietary in-memory databases aren’t the only option anymore. There have been rapid advancements since the introduction of these tools which offer greater capabilities without the lock-in.


Go big and scale up

In recent years, a huge number of high-performance analytic databases have become available. These databases use a variety of technical solutions to optimise the processing of large data volumes.  Many of these utilise in-memory engines but unlike the databases offered by many BI providers, these databases can be connected from the tools of many different BI providers – meaning that you are no longer restricted to analysing your data from just a single providers tool.


Connect to the database that suits you

Yellowfin BI connects to a huge range of databases allowing you to scale and run complex analytics at high speed. And because Yellowfin isn’t a desktop tool, you don’t have the headache of maintaining multiple versions of software, multiple copies of data, sleepless night worrying about who is using your data and is it secure. You can centrally govern all aspects of your BI environment and sleep soundly.


Not all server-based BI software is created equal

Recently, many providers of desktop BI solutions have had to introduce server-based versions to attempt to address the shortcomings of their tools when scaled within an enterprise. Under the covers however, remnants of the original architecture of these products remain and can constrain you. Some tools still require modelling and creation of content on the desktop. The meta-data created is effectively still encapsulated – making it difficult to reuse and promote these data layers consistently across the enterprise, resulting in duplicated effort. Many of these tools still require use of their own proprietary databases, or work more effectively with them.

So you can’t truly break free and choose the databases that best suit you.

That’s why, at Yellowfin, we offer you the freedom to connect to the databases that best suit your business, size, and data analysis complexity.


Check the T&Cs

So, check the terms and conditions that come with your BI tool before you buy. Make sure you aren’t getting locked into something that won’t grow with you. Make sure you can move your data from one platform to another if you ever change your mind on which tool you use. Don’t unwittingly sign yourself up for a 1000 hours of rewriting your data layer.


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