Cloud computing is a fascinating concept. It offers greenfield opportunities (or more appropriately, blue sky frontiers) for businesses to affordably scale their infrastructure needs without plunking down a huge hardware investment (and the space/power/cooling costs associated with managing your own hosted environment). This removes the risks of mis-provisioning by enabling on-demand scaling according to your data growth needs. Especially in these economic times, the benefits of Cloud computing are very attractive.
But let’s face it – there’s also a lot of hype, and it’s hard to separate truth from fiction. For example, what qualities would you say are key to data warehousing in the cloud?
Here’s a checklist of things I think are important:
 Time-To-Scalability. The whole point of clouds is to offer easy access to virtualized resources. A cloud warehouse needs to quickly scale-out and scale-in to adapt to changing needs. It can’t take days to scale…it has to happen on-demand in minutes (<1 hour).
 Manageability. You go with clouds because you not only want to save on hardware, but also on the operational people costs of maintaining that infrastructure. A cloud warehouse needs to offer one-click scaling, easy install/upgrade, and self-managed resiliency.
 Ecosystem. While clouds offer *you* huge TCO savings, you can’t compromise service levels for your customers – especially if you run your business on the cloud. BI/ETL/monitoring tools, Backup & Recovery, and ultra-fast data loading can’t be overlooked for “frontline” mission-critical warehousing on the cloud.
 Analytics. Lots of valuable data is generated via the cloud and there are opportunities to subscribe to new data feed services. It’s insufficient for a cloud warehouse to just do basic SQL reporting. Rather, it must offer the ability to do deep analytics very quickly.
 Choice. A truly best-in-class cloud warehouse won’t lock you in to a single cloud vendor. Rather, it will offer portability by enabling you to choose the best cloud for you to run your business on.
Finally, here are a couple ideas on the future of cloud warehousing. What if you could link multiple cloud warehouses together and do interesting queries across clouds? And what about the opportunities for game-changing new analytics – with so many emerging data subscription services, wouldn’t this offer ripe opportunities for mash-up analytics (eg. using Aster SQL/MapReduce).
What do you think are the standards for “best-in-class” cloud warehousing?