cloud bi

What It Actually Means to be Built for the Cloud Data Platform

Daniel Codella

Data Evangelist at Sigma

Sigma is a modern analytics and BI tool purpose-built for the cloud data platform (also called a cloud data warehouse). In other words, it’s a “cloud native” application designed specifically to fully leverage the power of the cloud — a pure cloud solution without legacy technical debt or compromises. But “cloud-native” is more than a catchy buzzword. There are significant differences between applications built from the ground up to take full advantage of the cloud and those that were built for the on-prem era and migrated to the cloud later on.

Although it may seem like mere semantics, these subtle distinctions can have serious repercussions down the road. Here are four key ways Sigma stands out as a cloud native analytics tool and how it benefits your business:

Data remains in the most secure place: the cloud data warehouse

While it may seem harmless to download a CSV full of interesting data to noodle around with (you may even be forced to work this way because it’s the only way you can get your hands on the data), data extracts are the bane of security and compliance-concerned teams at companies everywhere. They are a major security risk. Nearly half (47%) of data breaches stem from negligence often caused by lost or stolen spreadsheet data.

With Sigma, data is never moved, stored, cached, or copied — it stays inside the safest place it can be: your cloud data warehouse. Because no data extracts are necessary, security risks like emailing files and downloading spreadsheets to local machines are reduced, if not eliminated entirely, making it easier to govern your data.

Sigma also leverages the security measures built into cloud data platforms. One example is our support of OAuth for Snowflake which allows data access permissions in Snowflake to be “inherited” by Sigma so end users have a seamless SSO experience and administrators don’t have to manage user permissions in multiple places.

You don’t have to extract the data… ever

Data extracts introduce all kinds of headaches, and not just for information security teams. 88% of spreadsheets contain errors, whether from copy/paste mistakes or incorrect formulas and calculations. The consequences of these miscalculations can be severe, just ask JP Morgan. They lost $6 billion dollars in 2012 due to a simple Excel error. Ouch.

Data also expires over time. The CGOC estimates that 60% of data collected today has lost some — or even all — its business, legal or regulatory value. Market trends can change quickly, and if your team is using last week’s or last month’s data to diagnose a current problem or inform the next big decision, they can miss out on valuable opportunities.

Because Sigma runs live queries directly against the cloud data platform, the data is always accurate and up-to-date. Say goodbye to messy, outdated data extracts forever. Better data means better decisions, and better decisions means better business outcomes.

A Principal Data Scientist at a Leading Telecommunications and Mass Media Company in the U.S. with more than 26 million customers said this of Sigma: “I have used a lot of analytics and BI solutions in my day, and Sigma is the only one I have found that brings the compute to the data. This prevents mistakes, while saving time and money.”

Crunch through hundreds of billions of rows of data. (No, that’s not a typo!)

Have you ever had a BI tool buckle under the weight of a large data set? As the scale of data collection increases, more and more organizations are pushing these tools to their limits. Traditional BI tools that aren’t architected for the cloud or have their own proprietary repository for data analysis slow to a crawl or crash beyond a certain size, generally in the single or double-digit millions of rows of data.

Now that may sound like a lot, but it’s not uncommon for organizations like retailers to log millions of transactions across thousands of products or fintech companies to to track millions of accounts consisting of hundreds of data points. This forces most organizations to analyze data in aggregate, unable to examine individual SKUs, transactions, or other row level detail.

The reality is million+ datasets are commonplace and they’re only getting larger.

Sigma’s spreadsheet supports billions of rows, with formulas, calculations, and definitions that transform data from any source. This enables organizations to seamlessly (and speedily) move from high level insights to drilling down into individual rows for the most comprehensive analysis. In tools that rely on aggregated extracts, those detailed records may not be present.

Build on each other’s work and collaborate through data

Since retrofitted tools designed for the on-prem era don’t directly connect to the cloud data warehouse, they rely on stale data extracts to power analysis. They also can’t write-back to the cloud data platform to re-use analyses across your cloud ecosystem. This is great if you enjoy endlessly redundant work and operating in isolation. But for the rest of us, there’s Sigma.

In Sigma, you can easily share data sets, reuse each other’s analyses, and collaborate on data models. You can even write back to the cloud data platform for richer and better analysis across all the other apps in your cloud data stack. This collaborative approach to analytics gives you the power to leverage the knowledge, perspectives, and work of everyone in your organization for the most impactful insights.

Get the Full ROI Out of Your Cloud Investment

Many features and benefits of the cloud just can’t be utilized with traditional BI tools that were designed during the on-prem era. Unlike those retrofitted tools, Sigma is purpose built to take full advantage of everything the cloud has to offer. Complete your modern cloud analytics stack with analytics designed to sit on top of cutting-edge cloud data platforms, like Snowflake. This means never needing to deal with data extracts, keeping data safe and secure in the cloud data platform, and managing data sets of billions rows.

With the combined power of Sigma and cloud data platforms, you can centralize your data sources, expand data access without sacrificing data governance and security, and unlock rapid insights for everyone in your organization.

Are you ready to take full advantage of the cloud?

Download our hands-on lab and get started harnessing the full power of your cloud data platform today.