DWA vs ETL

A common question is the difference (or similarity) between Data Warehouse Automation and traditional ETL tools.

I like to use an example from my iPad – the difference between the apps Mortgage Calc andPages.

Pages is a spreadsheet. You can edit rows and columns of data, and create formulae using that data.

Mortgage Calc is an app that calculates mortgage payments.

Now, I could write a mortgage calculator in Pages. I could possibly make it look like the Mortgage Calc app rather than a spreadsheet. But which calculations do I use? Which tax rules apply? Are there stamp duties payable? In other words, I have to do a lot of research, a lot of programming, and a lot of testing to make sure I’ve got the basics right. And I’ve also got to maintain that spreadsheet as the rules change.

With Mortgage Calc, I’ve paid a few dollars for an application that has saved me many hours of research and development, and which I’m trusting to give me accurate calculations. In this case, Mortgage Calc is better than Pages, because it does one job, and does it well.

That is the difference between DWA and ETL. An ETL tool is a general purpose programming environment for moving and transforming data between systems. It provides components, in one form or another, which you put together to accomplish one or more tasks.

DWA, on the other hand, is built to do just one task, which is building the code associated with a data warehouse. Ajilius builds dimensional data warehouses. We build transactional, periodic snapshot and accumulating snapshot fact tables; Type 0, 1, 2 and 3 slowly changing dimensions; and move data from multiple data sources into a consolidated presentation layer.

You could do all of that with an ETL tool, but it would be like writing a complex mortgage calculator in a spreadsheet – time consuming, not well understood, and prone to error.

Ajilius generates fast, error free code, that can be easily migrated between data warehouse platforms, at the press of a button.

That’s the advantage of tools like Ajilius. We deliver business value, faster.

PostgreSQL and Ajilius

PostgreSQL is a great option for dimensional data warehouses. Using Ajilius to build and deploy your PostgreSQL data warehouse helps you to get the most out of this exciting platform.

The biggest advantage of PostgreSQL is that it is free. At a time when competing databases cost tens of thousands of dollars per core, and typically require 8 or more cores in production, PostgreSQL could cut more than $100,000 from your software budget.

Over the next week, we will publish a series of posts that describe how you can use Ajilius and PostgreSQL to maximum effect, wrapping up with some advice that could make you a DW Hero in your organisation.

Stay tuned!

The benefits of browser

Someone I used to respect once told me that you couldn’t build a data warehouse automation tool in a web browser. That person was living in a 20 year old bubble.

My epiphany on the capabilities of browser-based software came around 10 years ago, when I first saw an early version of Microsoft’s Outlook Web Access. It was a browser-based application that looked and worked almost exactly the same as Outlook. And now, look at the email, contact and calendar capabilities of Office365 – truly amazing user interfaces, delivered to any mainstream web browser.

Some people think that browsers can’t handle interaction with complex graphics. Have you seen Canva lately? Or Gliffy? Or the online versions of PowerPoint and Keynote? They’re doing graphics online that are as good (or better) as I was doing with desktop-based Visio, SmartDraw and Publisher just a few years ago.

Browsers have more benefits for a product like Ajilius:

Any device
Today’s web browsers run on desktops, notebooks, tablets and phones. On Windows, Linux and OS X, Android and iOS. The browser has become a universal user interface for all types of software. Responsive user interface design means that Ajilius adapts its layout to the constraints of the device, making it usable from large desktop display to pocket sized phone.

No client installs
Packaging, installing and maintaining desktop software is a major cost for most IT departments. Browser-based software, especially when designed to work with all major browsers, eliminates that cost and effort. Assuming the presence of a modern browser, deploying Ajilius in a corporate environment requires nothing installed or changed on end user devices.

Modern user interfaces
Using a browser makes it easy to support modern developments in user interface technology. We’re fully touch-driven, for example, which means you can use Ajilius just as effectively on an iPad as you can on a Windows desktop. We’re accessible, meaning that people with low vision or motor skill issues can still use our software. And we’re multi-lingual, because the browser lets us quickly deal with the user interface issues that come from supporting the world’s written languages.

The days when software was automatically desktop are over. The desktop as a device may not be dying, but software designed for the desktop is last century’s product.

Ajilius, being browser based, is a modern data warehouse automation product.

What is ‘modern’ data warehouse automation?

Our tag-line for Ajilius is “Modern Data Warehouse Automation.

Is it (Modern) Data Warehouse Automation, or (Modern Data Warehouse) Automation?

The answer is “Both”.

Ajilius is a modern software product. You can use Ajilius on desktops, tablets and phones. It runs on Linux, Macintosh and Windows. Deploy Ajilius on-premise or in the cloud. Multiple languages are supported for international customers.

Ajilius fully supports the Modern Data Warehouse. We can build data warehouses on relational databases, cloud platforms, and Hadoop. Ajilius can source from databases, files, web services and streams.

Ajilius delivers the fully development cycle for a data warehouse. Loads, staging tables, screens, dimensions, facts, cubes, schedules and documentation. We’re fully metadata-driven, using specialised templates to generate all scripts and artefacts. With just a few clicks you can migrate from development to production, or from one DW platform to another, with all code fully scripted for automated deployment in segregated data centers.

You’ll also be delighted by our modern approach to licensing. No per-user, per warehouse shennanigans. Just one, simple rule: if you pay for your target database, you pay for Ajilius. And the amount you pay is just a fraction of the maintenance of competing products. Of course, we offer full training and support to get you up and running.

We aim to be #1 in data warehouse automation. Don’t settle for less.