In this lesson we will:
- Introduce business intelligence tooling;
- Discuss how these tools integrate with ClickHouse;
- Consider the tradeoffs of open-source vs commercial business intelligence tools.
Business Intelligence such as Tableau and PowerBI are typically used by data analysts to analyse the data stored in repositories such as databases, data warehouses, data lakes or collections of flat files.
They will typically create reports, dashboards and other visualisations to help to understand business data, draw insights from it, and make reccomendations to their stakeholders.
Having completed their analysis, they will then package up their reports and dashboards in a form such that they can be used by other employees on an ongoing basis to guide their decision making.
In the early days of business intelligence, executives used to request specific data and up to date reports from their analysts on an ad-hoc basis.
Over time, there was a move towards "self serve analytics", where end users could create their own reports based on the latest data and with their own filters. This removed business intelligence teams from the loop and enabled more of the business with data to guide their decisions.
With self service analytics, it is also useful to include interactive options such as the ability for the end user to filter and drill down into their data.
Though self-service analytics was a concept talked about in the 90s, it is still not necessarily straightforward to deliver. When doing this, we need a data infrastructure that can support multiple users accessing the database concurrently, all issueing slightly different queries as they adjust their filters and request different reports. When we have relatively big datasets, this is not necessarily straightforward. It certianly needs a high performing dataabase and well designed platform for it to provide good performance.
Though business intelligence tools aren't the most exciting corner of the data world today, they are still the central mechanism by which organisations analyse their data and distribute information to their employees.
This means that even if we are using a high performance database like Clickhouse, we are still likely to need to support these tools if our users wish to consume the data within it. This is particularly true if you are using ClickHouse for data warehouse oriented workloads.
Generally Clickhouse has good support in the business intelligence ecosystem.
Whilst some tools connect directly and out of the box, others need to either have a driver installed or connect via a compatibility layer such as the ClickHouse MySQL Interface or ODBC.
In this space we will likely need to make a choice between open source, desktop based and cloud hosted versions.
Many of the leegacy business intelligence tools started out life as a thick client desktop application.
Nowadays, almost all of the tools have a web based version and a fully managed. We tend to prefer SaaS tools.