Will Power BI Eliminate the Need for Data Warehouses?

Recently I’ve had spoke to several peers and discussed with my mentor: why do we still need to build a Data Warehouse if we have Power BI?  For some SMEs (especially in NZ) or departments, may Power BI  well eliminate the need for a data warehouse?

As a fantastic self-service business intelligence tool, one of its key strengths about Power BI is the richness of its query and data modelling capabilities. These allow users to easily combine data from disparate data sources, add complex calculations, and generally model the data so that interactive reports and dashboards can be created in a fraction of the time.

The primary reason that data warehouses are created is to combine data from disparate sources into one accessible source for reporting. If that is the case and companies only need interactive reporting and dashboards, then Power BI will most likely eliminate the need for a data warehouse.

However, data warehouses exist to serve several purposes. Amongst others, here are some of the common reasons that data warehouses are implemented:

  1. Combining data from one or more disparate source systems (aggregating and standardising the data).
  2. Optimise data for reporting workloads (denormalisation).
  3. Reduce load on operational systems.
  4. Tracking historical changes in the data, allowing for point-in-time reporting. And handle the large-scale datasets.
  5. A single point of truth to use for all corporate reporting.

Power BI can, to some extent, cater for the first 3 points above. The 4th and 5th, however, cannot be achieved with Power BI so far. Historical change tracking is something that we will not see in Power BI in a few years. In addition to that, Power BI cannot currently serve as the single point of truth because not all reporting systems can use Power BI as the source for their reporting. Although Power BI is a great reporting tool, it does not cater for every scenario yet. There is still a need for other reporting tools, such as SQL Server Reporting Services, to cater for different business requirements.

Power BI has opened up a world of possibilities for organisations of any size. The small end of town now has the ability to do BI for a fraction of the cost they would have incurred until recently. However, for the large size enterprise requirements, a well-designed data warehouse is still required.

Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/data-warehouses-do-we-still-need-them-craig-bryden/

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