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  • Writer's pictureDuc Pham

A Deep Dive into ClickHouse for Data Analysis

Unlocking Business Insights: modern-day vast amounts of data require efficient and powerful data warehouses to enable the analysis of such data. One project that has been gaining traction in recent times is ClickHouse. In this article, we'll explore what ClickHouse is, why it's a powerhouse for data analysis, and why your business should consider leveraging its capabilities for business intelligence.


ClickHouse transcends the conventional notion of databases; it emerges as a high-performance analytical database crafted to navigate vast volumes of data with unparalleled speed.

1. What is ClickHouse?


ClickHouse transcends the conventional notion of databases; it emerges as a high-performance analytical database crafted to navigate vast volumes of data with unparalleled speed. Let's delve deeper into ClickHouse and unravel why it is an indispensable tool for business intelligence and other data analytics applications.

ClickHouse is a highly scalable open-source database management system (DBMS) with a column-oriented structure. Tailored for online analytical processing (OLAP), it redefines performance benchmarks by seamlessly returning processed results in a fraction of a second.

This exceptional speed renders ClickHouse ideal for applications dealing with massive structured datasets, ranging from data analytics and complex data reports to intricate data science computations.


The Performance: Features of ClickHouse


The stellar performance of ClickHouse is a result of a meticulous combination of factors, each contributing to its exceptional speed and efficiency:

  1. Column-oriented Data Storage: ClickHouse stores data in columns rather than rows, allowing more efficient data retrieval for analytical queries.

  2. Data Compression: ClickHouse employs advanced data compression techniques, optimizing storage space and accelerating data retrieval.

  3. The Vector Computation Engine: This engine processes data in vectors, performing operations on entire datasets simultaneously, further boosting processing speed.

  4. Approximated Calculations: ClickHouse utilizes approximate calculations, striking a balance between accuracy and speed, especially beneficial for large datasets.

  5. Physical Sparse Indices: The use of physical sparse indices enhances the efficiency of data retrieval, contributing to the overall speed of ClickHouse.

Beyond Performance: ClickHouse as a Sophisticated DBMS


However, ClickHouse is not a one-trick pony. Beyond its exceptional performance, it stands as a sophisticated database management system supporting a plethora of advanced features:

  • Distributed Query Processing: ClickHouse seamlessly distributes queries across multiple nodes, optimizing resource utilization and accelerating data processing.

  • Partitioning: Efficient data organization through partitioning enhances query speed and simplifies data management.

  • Data Replication: ClickHouse ensures data redundancy and fault tolerance through replication, bolstering data integrity.

  • Sharding: The ability to shard data across multiple servers enhances scalability, allowing ClickHouse to handle terabytes of data seamlessly.

(Almost) Zero Learning-curve: SQL-Like Query Language


ClickHouse doesn't demand a steep learning curve. It provides a declarative SQL-like query language, making it convenient for users to interact with the system. This user-friendly interface facilitates efficient data retrieval and manipulation, ensuring that even complex queries are easily executed.

In essence, ClickHouse is not just a database; it is a powerhouse of analytical capabilities, combining exceptional speed with advanced features to redefine the landscape of data management and analysis. As businesses grapple with ever-expanding datasets, ClickHouse emerges as a strategic ally, empowering them to unravel insights at the speed of thought. It's not merely a tool; it's the catalyst propelling businesses into the future of data-driven decision-making.


2. Why Should You Use ClickHouse for Business Intelligence?


a. Columnar Storage:

ClickHouse's columnar storage design sets it apart from traditional row-based databases. This means that instead of storing data in rows, it organizes information by columns. This allows for highly efficient compression and speeds up query performance, making it ideal for analytical workloads.


b. Parallel Processing:

ClickHouse is designed to take full advantage of modern hardware capabilities. It excels in parallel processing, enabling it to perform multiple computations simultaneously. ClickHouse can leverage all available CPU cores and disks to execute a single query on a single server and all CPU cores and disks of a cluster. This parallelism translates into faster query execution, even when dealing with large datasets.


c. Real-time Data Processing:

Businesses today operate in real-time, and ClickHouse is well-equipped to handle this demand. It supports real-time data ingestion and analytics, allowing businesses to make informed decisions promptly.


d. Scalability:

ClickHouse scales horizontally and vertically, meaning you can add more servers to your cluster as your data grows or increase the capacity of each micro-service by adding more memories and storage. This scalability is crucial for businesses experiencing rapid expansion or dealing with unpredictable data growth.


e. Cost-Effective:

Being open-source, ClickHouse offers a cost-effective solution for businesses. It allows you to harness the power of a high-performance analytical database without the hefty price tag associated with some proprietary alternatives.


f. Ease of Use:

ClickHouse is known for its simplicity. Its SQL-based syntax is familiar to many data professionals, reducing the learning curve for implementation. This ease of use makes it accessible to a broader audience within your organization.


3. Connect ClickHouse to Your BI Tool

Integrating ClickHouse with your preferred business intelligence (BI) solution depends on the tools. Most newer & open-source tools support ClickHouse out of the box, making it easy to connect and start visualizing your data. RocketBI is one of the earliest premium BI solutions to support Clickhouse natively. Other solutions like Power BI or Tableau require setting up a JDBC connector, which you can follow step-by-step on the Clickhouse document. Then, you'll be ready to harness the analytical power of ClickHouse within your BI environment.


Key differences of using RocketBI, Tableau, and Power BI for Clickhouse:

Highlights

RocketBI

Tableau

Power BI

Native support

Yes (out of the box)

No

Yes (require install connector)

Data integration: Gather data to Clickhouse

Yes

No

No

Data export: move data to external sources/ databases

Yes

No

No

Real-time data exploration

Yes

No

No

Real-time ETL

Yes

No

No

Enrich data schema on the go

Yes

Limited (require Transform data first)

Limited (require Transform data first)

Data freshness

Real-time data & schema

Schedule or manual update

Real-time data using DirectQuery (require manual schema update)

Record (write) analysis results back to Data Warehouse

Yes

No

No

Responsive & Intuitive Visualization

Yes

Limited

(Load data first, then build visual and update for latest data)

Limited

(Load data first, then build visual and update for latest data)

4. Connect RocketBI to your Clickhouse:


To use Clickhouse as your Data Warehouse in RocketBI, you can fill in the connection credential in our user interface. The list below are the information you will need:

  • HOSTNAME and PORT: typically, the port is 8443 when using TLS or 8123 when not using TLS.

  • DATABASE NAME: out of the box, there is a database named default. Use the name of the database you want to connect to.

  • USERNAME and PASSWORD: Use the username appropriate for your use case. Please ensure the user has the right to read & write on your database.

Your ClickHouse Cloud service details are available in the ClickHouse Cloud console. Select the service that you will connect to and click Connect:

clickhouse-cloud-connect-information
Get your Clickhouse Cloud Connection Information

Choose HTTPS, and the details are available in an example curl command.

clickhouse-cloud-get-connection-https-curl
Clickhouse Cloud connection info in HTTPs Curl

If you are using a self-hosted version of ClickHouse database (that means using the open-source Clickhouse), the connection details are set by your Technical/IT administrator.


Then, on RocketBI's Setting tab, navigate to Organization settings > DataSource Config and fill in your Clickhouse credential into the form:

connect-rocketbi-clickhouse
Connect RocketBI to your Clickhouse

Click on Test Connection and Apply when the test is successful. Now, you can explore all data in your Clickhouse in the Data Management tab.

rocketbi-clickhouse-best-business-intelligence
Explore your Clickhouse data in RocketBI

In conclusion, ClickHouse is a game-changer for businesses seeking fast, scalable, and cost-effective solutions for data analysis. Its unique features make it an attractive option for those needing real-time insights and the ability to efficiently process vast amounts of data. Before diving in, make sure you choose the right Business Intelligence solution that goes natively with Clichouse, and you'll have an unfair advantage in data-driven decision-making.


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