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Ensure That Your Implementations Are Unique

No two data warehouse implementations are exactly alike. A data warehouse is composed of many different components, each of which can be implemented in several (perhaps many) ways. These components include

  • The breadth: the number of different subjects and focus points, for example, or the number of different functional or regional organizations that will use it

  • The number of sources that will provide raw data

  • The means by which data is moved from source applications and loaded into the data warehouse

  • The business rules applied to the raw source data to produce high quality data assets

  • The target databases in which data assets are stored

  • The data assets: the elements, the level of detail in each element, and how much history is being maintained, for example

  • The business intelligence, front-end tool used to access the data assets

  • The overall architectural complexity of the environment

No two data warehouse implementations (neither the implementations now in existence nor all those to be completed in the future) will be identical in all the preceding eight categories.

Two companies in the same industry, for example, each might have a sales-and-marketing data warehouse that supports 300 users across four different business organizations, allows access by using the same business intelligence tool set, and uses the same database management system in which to store approximately 50 gigabytes of data.

The two companies probably have these differences, however:

  • Different data sources, unique to each company

  • Different data, as a result of the different sources; for example, reference data that defines stages in the sales and qualification process

  • The use of different source-to-warehouse movement techniques — for example, business rules for forecasting future revenue

Because of these differences, trying to adapt another company’s data warehousing solution in its entirety would be a big mistake. (Or, like your schoolteachers used to tell you, “Do your own work — no copying!”)

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