January 4, 2021 — Product News
Marketplace Q&A: Niklas Bergh on Customer Data Warehouse
Data is a key currency of business in the 21st century and, as with actual currency, you want to know it’s stored safely and that you can get it when you need it. In this Q&A, we talk to our director of integration architecture Niklas Bergh about our Customer Data Warehouse add-on, which helps companies to move and analyze data safely in designated database servers.
Marketing Project Manager, Greenbyte
What problem are you looking to solve?
Well, to answer this question, let me first give you a bit of background about Greenbyte services. We are a data-driven software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, which means our services retrieve and store a large amount of data from our customers and their wind and solar assets.
Our customers can access this data in various ways: sometimes through our Greenbyte Platform’s user interface and reports, and sometimes by extracting the data into other systems using the Greenbyte Platform’s API (application programming interface).
So basically, our platform can offer built-in visualization and a modern API for accessing data for further processing in external systems – which is a very strong combination.
However a fundamental challenge, which many of our customers face, is that when using an API you usually need a software engineer to develop software for an API to make use of the data it provides.
How does it do that?
Think about it this way. Since forever, companies in the market have used relational databases like Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server. These systems have often been the primary way of storing, querying and aggregating certain types of data. Almost every company has one or more relational databases, which their employees rely on to store data and perform subsequent analysis activities against.
Behind the scenes, these activities are usually performed by using SQL (structured query language) queries to request that the databases locate and process the data in the desired manner.
The result is that there are many individuals and tools on the market with competency around relational database systems and the SQL query language. With Customer Data Warehouse, Greenbyte would like to support these types of tools and skills for users of the Greenbyte Platform.
However, most SaaS providers will not provide direct access to their own line of business internal databases, because they are too critical to the service being offered. This means it can be difficult, or impossible, for companies to access their data using SQL-based tooling and skills. That’s specifically what Customer Data Warehouse add-on does.
Got it! So, what Customer Data Warehouse?
The Customer Data Warehouse add-on is a relational database service where Greenbyte offers access to data stored in our main Platform in a manner that enables us to protect our core platform, but still allows users to issue SQL queries in a secure and reliable way against Greenbyte Platform data. We do this by setting up the Greenbyte Platform to continuously replicate stored data to a physically-isolated relational database that is dedicated to, and solely accessed by, the customer.
To benefit from the Customer Data Warehouse add-on, the customers have two different alternatives.
One is a fully managed service, in which Greenbyte takes full provisioning, operational and capacity management responsibility for the Customer Data Warehouse, whilst providing remote access to the database.
The other is a shared responsibility service where the customer commissions, operates and manages capacity of the isolated database on their premises but with the Greenbyte Platform being responsible for continuously feeding this database with fresh data.
The choice between these two alternatives primarily depends on what the customer is comfortable with.
Why would a company want Greenbyte to run this database?
Ha! Well, we’re pretty good at running infrastructure and managing massive amounts of data. We have data centers, the operations skillsets, and the relevant relationships with our customers. So, for these reasons we are well positioned to help our customers with these types of activities.
And why would a company want to run this database internally?
We offer flexibility here. If the customer has the internal pre-requisite skillsets and experience, they can professionally commission and manage an industry standard database using internal resources.
But if they do not have that they can trust Greenbyte to act on their behalf, and still reap the benefits of the Customer Data Warehouse.
What can companies do with the Customer Data Warehouse?
The Customer Data Warehouse provides access to stored 5-, 10- and 15-minute time series and status data in the Greenbyte Platform. This includes both actual measurements and calculated KPIs as well as historical status data.
This means that a customer would essentially be able to perform any type of queries against this data according to their analysis needs, such as for instance producing key performance indicators, trend information or point-in-time analysis
Are there particular types of companies that would benefit most?
Not strictly, no. But a customer would probably have to be of a certain size or profile to have an analyst or analysts that want to run these kinds of queries. This feature is most helpful to companies that would see benefit from improving the flexibility of how they can access data, or customers that have pre-existing tooling or skillsets which require SQL access to data to operate.
For example, maybe they have a big Excel file that relies on being able to run SQL queries against data, or another type of third-party analytics tool that relies on SQL access to data, and they also don’t want to drastically change some of their established tooling, routines and processes. Then they could make rather small tweaks to their existing systems and continue to use them as-is.
This is a flexible option that allow the Greenbyte Platform to be compatible with different customers’ additional needs.
What about safety and security?
Well, I have to say that safety and security is a big part of most things nowadays. The Customer Data Warehouse is no exception. This add-on is naturally held to the same high standards for security as the rest of the Greenbyte Platform.
There are also cases where customers, primarily for policy reasons, want to have a live copy of their production data residing in their own premises, simply because the trust in ‘cloud’ is still being built up in certain regions. The Customer Data Warehouse add-on can enable them to store data on their premises, to alleviate such concerns.
Interested to see how you can leverage Customer Data Warehouse add-ons to suit your needs? Check out our Marketplace!