A data warehouse is an enterprise strategy that aims to overcome the common problem of data silos, or isolated pockets of data, which are inaccessible to other parts of the enterprise and not well integrated. In addition, the storage of large quantities of historical, transactional data allows analysts to use trending tools and other data analytics to sort through that data warehouse, and spot trends that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to detect using traditional means.
As such, the data warehouse can be the foundation of an important strategic tool, which assists management in both seeing historical trends and predicting future ones. Armed with this information, management can create an effective strategy for success.
Data warehouse development is a serious undertaking, often time-consuming and costly. It pays to be prepared, and to approach it with precision. There are several steps involved, and you will want to have data warehouse development experts on your side to help guide you through the process.
First, before any warehouse development takes place, the business model is defined in detail. The data warehouse does more than store data, it is in many ways the heart of the operation. For it to be effective, your entire business model, and all business activities, must be mapped out to show what areas the data warehouse will touch, and how. Most importantly, this analysis shows the workflow and data flow, and how people work together and collaborate-and how that can be improved with the data warehouse development.
For many, the business model has grown up organically and without a coherent, unifying structure, and flaws will come out during this process of analysis. By doing this analysis, these flaws can be addressed, and appropriate changes made before designing and implementing the data warehouse.
Once that business model has been defined, the system data model is developed. This stage is also a pre-coding stage, where the data model is outlined in the abstract, to depict on paper how the data is used, how the different business entities interact with it, and how transactions flow through the enterprise.
This step condenses the business model into an abstract representation on paper, so it can be easily seen and understood by the business managers on one hand, who can improve the process prior to implementation; and the developers on the other hand, who can easily understand the business model and the goals before actually creating the new system.
Then, the actual data ware house architecture will be defined. This framework shows how every element of the data warehouse is integrated, and how to accommodate growth and build in scalability. And finally, the physical database is established. The actual hardware is selected so that it can accommodate the level of processing expected, and at this point the enterprise will consider whether to host the hardware on-premise, or through a hosting company or collocation center. The software application is then considered.
Once implemented, the system is large and will require training. There is always internal resistance to a very large, new system, but effective training will bring about more widespread acceptance, and result in a successful data warehouse project.