Building Better Business Intelligence The Architecture for the Next Generation of Data Warehousing

Originally published 19 October 2006

Look around today and ask yourself what a data warehouse is, and you will find a host of answers. These old definitions look backward in time and simply do not address what a data warehouse should be as we move forward. The old definition of a data warehouse – the classical first generation of a data warehouse – just does not look into the future.

There is a need for a new architecture that serves the needs of the enterprise in the 21st century – an updated architecture that provides a foundation for business intelligence, customer data integration, predictive analytics, master data management and more.

Enter DW 2.0 – the architecture for the next generation of data warehousing. Some of the more salient features of this data warehouse architecture include:

  • The recognition of the life cycle of data within the data warehouse. Data in a warehouse lives for a long time. As the data ages within the data warehouse, many of its characteristics change. The data is accessed less frequently, there is more data, data occasionally needs to be integrated and reintegrated, and so forth. In a word, simply plunking data into a data warehouse and letting it stay in the same place in the same status is not a good idea. DW 2.0 recognizes the life cycle of data within the data warehouse.

  • The need to bring unstructured data into the data warehouse. For years, the classical first generation data warehouses have been built on only structured, transaction-oriented data. These first generation warehouses have served an important purpose. However, only a fraction of the corporation’s data is being served by a first generation data warehouse. DW 2.0 recognizes that unstructured textual data must be integrated into the data warehouse. In doing so, a whole new world of analytical processing is possible.

  • Enterprise metadata needs to be an integral part of the data warehouse environment. We have had metadata for a long time. Each product and each technology has its own metadata. Local metadata has been around for years. What is needed is a true enterprise level of metadata that reaches across all corporate metadata and forms a cohesive and comprehensive foundation on which analytical processing can be done. DW 2.0 recognizes the need for enterprise metadata and the need for enterprise metadata to cooperatively and constructively interact with local metadata.

  • A development foundation that can change with time. Nearly all development tools and techniques make the assumption that databases and data warehouses are built from a foundation of business requirements. Unfortunately, as time passes, these business requirements change. If a data warehouse is to stand the test of time, the infrastructure for technology must be able to change as the business requirements also change. DW 2.0 recognizes the need for a technological foundation that can change as business requirements change.

There are many other aspects of this architecture that are intriguing as well, such as the support of online transaction processing, the linkage of structured and unstructured data and selection/deselection of certain unstructured data as part of the infrastructure.

I would like to personally invite you to the conference to be held in November to learn how a solid architectural infrastructure supports your enterprise’s major initiatives such as business intelligence, customer data integration, predictive analytics, master data management and more. Click here for more information.

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

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