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Data Warehouse definition


Data Warehouse (© monsitj / Fotolia.com)

Data Warehouse (© monsitj / Fotolia.com)

In this article, we're going to discuss the data warehouse and the process of data warehousing. This has become a common practice in business and is certainly relevant when it comes to marketing and advertising. However, in order to understand the data warehouse itself, you have to understand a few other things including the way that this data is gathered and stored; you will have a deeper understanding of the entire world of data processing.

What is Data Warehousing?

A simple definition of data warehousing might be the process of capturing data from a whole bunch of different sources so that it can be analyzed, disseminated and accessed by certain groups of people. But data warehousing doesn't actually start with the end user like most of the other information gathering terms. Instead, it begins with the data.

Two Data Warehousing Approaches

There are two different points of view that you can look at data warehousing from. In simple terms, one of these is the top and one of these is the bottom. But in order to understand these two approaches, you first have to understand that the opposite of data warehousing is the one that actually does begin with the end user and the specific information that they need access to. This is called a data mart.

The Data Mart

While the data mart may technically be a type of data warehouse, purists do not classify it as such. Generally, the data mart is specifically set up to cater to a group, business or geographic area. Data warehouses have very wide depth and can be used for a variety of purposes.

If you want an example that makes it clear, think of a data mart as a local grocery store in your hometown. This grocery store will only have the items that consumers need for making meals at home. Your local grocery store wouldn’t sell chicken breasts in cases of 500 because no one would ever need that many for their home cooking. That’s how a data mart works. It only has the specific information that will be relevant to a specific group of people.

A data warehouse on the other hand is a like much bigger warehouse store that contains all kinds of items that someone might need. It doesn’t contain everything, but it contains all of the items you would find at your local grocery store, plus the 500-count cases of chicken breasts and many, many other things – including (or mostly) non-food items.

Basically, the data warehouse is a place where tons of data is gathered, without it being known what exactly the data may be used for yet.

What Are Data Warehouses Used For?

There are several reasons why someone might create or need a data warehouse. For one thing it allows for a group of people to be able to look at the big picture of a series of data. In addition, if certain organizations or companies or types of people need specific data regularly, a data warehouse can provide easier access, although a data mart is an easier way to do this in many cases. In general, a data warehouse allows for a multitude of benefits like the ones below.

  • Dynamic presentation is one reason; a data warehouse can give you dynamic presentation through user dashboards. If someone wants access to the latest data that is critical for their job, a data warehouse can provide exactly that.
  • In many cases, a data warehouse is created due to regulations within an industry but may not be fulfilled by transactional systems.
  • Data warehouses can also support operational process sees like being able to consolidate certain data that is gathered using completely different software than the rest of the company uses.
  • Data warehouses also allow for meta descriptions that help users to know what they are looking at.
  • Of course, one of the main reasons that people build data warehouses is because they intend on data mining. Once you have a warehouse, there are plenty of data mining tools that you can use to help you discover new things and gain insights into your company. Data mining can be one of the most valuable tools that your business has.
  • In addition, a data warehouse can provide you with the better security that you need giving access only to the people who are supposed to have that data.
  • Finally, a data warehouse can support a variety of analytic systems. Whatever type of analytics you need to process, you will most likely be using the data from a warehouse.

The Basics of Building a Data Warehouse

The data warehouse is a permanent place to store all of the data that you need for your business intelligence. Some companies do not see the value in a data warehouse because they already have that data stored in another location and consider this extra data storage to simply be a waste. But that is far from true. For one thing, a data warehouse is a lot more than just a place to store data. There are tools and applications that you can only use in concert with a data warehouse. In addition, it makes sense to have important data stored in more than one location.

Data warehouses are created using powerful servers that are completely dedicated to the gathering and storage of information. the servers have some sort of database management system and use specialized services to pull the data in and set it up for storage. Data warehouses are divided into certain areas and data marts are often built from a small segment of the data warehouse itself. the servers maybe run running something such as SQL Server in order to manage databases and use ETL software like SQL Server integration services.

Why People Create Data Warehouses Instead of Instant Access Systems

Some people may wonder why businesses would need to use data warehouses instead of setting up regular direct access systems which seem to be faster and do not require massive server storage space or the power requirements to run a server room specifically for data. There are some pretty good reasons for creating a data warehouse over the direct access system.

  • Because the data warehouse is usually created on a server that is intended only for that purpose, access to the data is a lot faster.
  • Also, storing and retrieving data through a data warehouse format is a lot safer because there is almost no chance that date is going to get corrupted. When you have a direct access system, users make corrupt the transaction data or they may even want to misuse data.
  • You can skip the wait that is normally required when you have direct access storage and you need your IT Department to create a report on something. With a data warehouse, users can create their own reports and get them a lot faster.
  • The longer your company exists, and the more technology improves to gather more data, you are going to need Scalable Storage Solutions to be able to organize, search and store huge amounts of data that you may not even be able to conceive right now.
  • In addition, if you need to integrate several different data sources immediately, a data warehouse will allow you to do that. Plus, it will save the people actually compiling that data time because they don't have to go to all of the different places where the data is gathered to get what they need.
  • A data warehouse also allows you to use data management tools to consolidate several tables into one table. This is an extremely useful tool for businesses that have multiple locations throughout the country or the world, or any other situation where data is being gathered in store locally but is needed to be part of a greater corporate database.

Business Intelligence

Any company that wants to improve their business needs to implement business intelligence. Business intelligence is data gathered from operational systems and then organized into a format that you can learn from. This data needs to be kept current and ensure that it is accurate, and then you can make predictions, analyze trends and know when an oncoming opportunity is evident.

Any company that wants to make better business decisions and improve their operation to outperform competitors needs to use business intelligence. Unfortunately, with all of the data available these days, it can be very difficult to manage and organize that data into something that you can actually use to help you run your business better. One of the most important parts of business intelligence is having a data warehouse.

Conclusion

Is a relatively new concept in business but it is one of the most important things that any big company can do. Smaller companies may not need to implement business data warehouses right away, but if they have the ability to do so it might still be a good idea, particularly if they are planning on growing much larger in the near future. The bottom line is that you understand what the data warehouse is and how it is used in business, particularly in marketing and advertising.


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Press releases

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