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Do you see the ODS and the DW blending into a single data store?

online columnist Adrienne Tannenbaum     Ask The Experts published in DMReview.com
January 2, 2007
  By Adrienne Tannenbaum and Chuck Kelley

Q: The concepts of an ODS and data warehouse have been around for many years. Based on your view of what end-user organizations are actually doing are these two types of data stores still a viable solution as separate components or do you see end-user organizations blending the ODS and DW into a single data store?

Adrienne Tannenbaum's Answer:

To some degree end-users' organizations do both (I am assuming you are referring to the "non-IT" faction of an organization). They do both because of IT's unsuccessful attempt (or inability!) at giving them all of the information that they need in one easily accessible spot. The only way the data warehouse (DW) will take over is if the end users don't need anything else.

In general, I think it is too optimistic to expect operational data stores (ODSs) to go away. They serve a distinct purpose in that they give the scoped information to those who want and trust it. When reporting from a DW removes this trust or security, the DW never takes their place.

One of the reasons that I suspect the perpetual existence of the ODS is unfortunately the lack of DW related metadata that clearly explains the transition of the operational data into the DW translated values. If in fact the end user could understand why the values in the DW are what they are, he/she might be able to decide whether or not the ODS is no longer a necessary part of life ... But ...

Chuck Kelley's Answer: 

I see a lot of organizations starting out building an operational data store (ODS) but calling it a data warehouse. Then when they really start looking at the data warehouse, they try to jam it all together, but it doesn't work very well. What happens is frustration. What I wish would happen is that each organization would look at how the data will be used and then build the most appropriate data structure for the requirements. Therefore, I would fall in the camp of separate components mostly because of what the ODS is used for (more operational in nature) and what the DW is used for (more strategic in nature). They have different requirements for performance tuning.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
DW Basics and DW Design, Methodology.

Adrienne Tannenbaum is president of Database Design Solutions, Inc. (www.dbdsolutions.com), a New Jersey-based consulting firm specializing in the revitalization of corporate data. The firm focuses on data issues within large organizations and supports all data reconstruction efforts with a solid meta data backbone. Tannenbaum is the author of two popular meta data-focused books: Metadata Solutions: Using Metamodels, Repositories, XML, and Enterprise Portals to Generate Information on Demand (2001, Addison Wesley) and Implementing a Corporate Repository (1994, Wiley).

Chuck Kelley is an internationally known expert in database and data warehousing technology. He has 30 years of experience in designing and implementing operational/production systems and data warehouses. Kelley has worked in some facet of the design and implementation phase of more than 50 data warehouses and data marts. He also teaches seminars, co-authored four books on data warehousing and has been published in many trade magazines on database technology, data warehousing and enterprise data strategies. He can be contacted at chuckkelley@usa.net.

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