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System Innovations

--  Integration modeling, data warehousing, data strategy --

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What is Data Warehousing?

The typical IS organization supports an environment that was built over time, with computer applications that were designed to support the day-to-day operation of the company's primary business. There are separate applications (or computer systems) for several categories of use. Some are centralized systems, used for back office functions like Financial, Payroll and General Ledger updates. Others run in localized environments, such as those for Field Office, Personnel and Sales & Marketing initiatives. Still others are run in multiples - every branch running it's own version. Order processing and customer information storage systems may fall into the category of multiples.
Often these applications are built on differing platforms by many different and separate development teams, without a "city plan" or architecture for fitting them all together. Each department just "does their own thing", without worrying about what other departments are doing.

To complicate matters further, over time we see a proliferation of needs for reporting extracts from various quarters, such as:

  • Special Projects

  • Process Reengineering Initiatives

  • Year 2000 Projects

  • Marketing Campaigns

  • Financial, Pricing & Profitability Studies

  • Auditing Concerns

What ensues is an increasing competition for resources, including:

  • Information

  • Knowledgeable Technical and Subject Matter Experts

  • Processing Time (Mips)

Along with a decreasing window of opportunity for accessing those resources. Particularly, time in the overnight processing cycle is in demand. Often, there exists no more than a 2 hour window of opportunity for extracts. In a realtime environment or what's referred to as 7 by 24, the problem gets worse.

To avoid degrading the processing of day-to-day operations in a business, you must remove the information access from the critical path of Information Processing. Thus, the practice of making "Shadow Copies" of data repositories was born, and termed Data Warehousing. These copies typically are taken daily, weekly or monthly, and in some instances much more frequently.
The Data Warehousing industry has grown up around the real business need to create a "Corporate Information Architecture" - a "city plan" that is - to support informational processing for management decision support and integrated analysis. The organization and integration of data into this Architecture as well as the creation of data access mechanisms, are the goals of many a DW Implementation Project.

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Copyright 1998, 1999. Laura Brown, LBPI, Inc. (DBA: System Innovations)
Last Updated: August 19, 1999