Today’s state-of-the-art data warehouse typically looks like a complicated data warehouse deluxe. The data warehouse of tomorrow, though — the data warehouse supreme — will look quite different. There are few enterprises that have ventured in this direction, though due to overall cost and capabilities, it is still rare to find many data warehouse supremes.

The number of subject areas in a data warehouse supreme is unlimited because the data warehouse is virtual; it isn’t all contained in a single database or even within multiple databases that you personally load and maintain.

Instead, only part of your warehouse (probably a small part) is physically located on some data warehouse server; the rest is out there in cyberspace somewhere, accessible through networking capabilities as though it were all part of some physically centralized data warehouse. With a data warehouse supreme, your warehouse users have an infinite number of subject-area possibilities — anything that could possibly be of interest to them.

Think of how you use the Internet today to access Web sites all over the world — sites that someone else creates and maintains. Now, imagine that each of those sites contains information about some specific area of interest to you — rather than advertising, job ads, electronic storefronts, and whatever else you spend your time surfing the Internet trying to find.

Also imagine that you can query and run reports by using the contents of one or more of these sites as your input. That’s the model of the data warehouse supreme: opening up an unlimited number of possibilities to users.

The leading-edge corporations are beginning to pursue and deliver seamless convergence of different types of data: narrative documents, video, image, and ordinary data (such as numbers and character information). A data warehouse supreme has all this — all the different types of data that you need to support better business decision-making.

In terms of total capacity, a data warehouse supreme is huge; it surpasses today’s limits. The distribution of the information across many different platforms, much faster and higher-performance networking infrastructure, and increasingly “smarter” database management systems — in addition to, of course, steadily increasing disk storage capacities —create this capacity expansion.