Importance to Mission, Scalability

By Charles Garry  |  Posted 2005-07-07 Print this article Print

Are Also Key"> 4. Mission-Critical Environment As an EDW matures to include several important subject areas, it will by default become a mission-critical environment. This means that the underlying infrastructure must have all the capabilities expected of any critical system.
These include high availability features (such as online parameter or database structural changes), business continuance (such as failover and disaster recovery features) and security features. The EDW is not a throw-away system or one that can easily be rebuilt. It is intrinsic to the success of other business systems and decision-making processes.
5. Scalability Across Several Dimensions Over time, the EDW will certainly become perhaps the most shared system within the enterprise. When people think scalability they typically think amount of data stored. A true EDW is not simply defined by the amount of data; it is also distinguished by the amount of query freedom it offers its users. This means that, unlike a simple data mart, the EDW and its corresponding infrastructure platform must be able to accommodate any query. Not just the questions we know will be asked, but even the questions that users have not thought of yet. The EDW must be scalable to support the typical handful (10-100) of power query users, as well as perhaps thousands of concurrent tactical users, as the EDW evolves over time. This means the infrastructure must support strong features such as workload distribution and also be capable of massive parallel processing to deliver predictable query performance against increasingly larger sets of data. The preceding attributes should be used to clarify exactly what it is that your organization is building or what capabilities a particular vendors solution may offer. There are initiatives that sound like EDWs but are in fact something different. Take the consolidation of data marts onto a single infrastructure. Is the end result an EDW? How about that ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendors business intelligence add-on? Is that an EDW? To answer these questions, you have to compare them against our list of attributes. That ERP warehouse solution may be multiple terabytes in size with multiple subject areas, and it may even be considered critical to the business. However, is the design flexible enough to adapt to changing business realities, or does the business have to conform to the ERP vendors view of the world? Is the underlying design truly rationalized across all subject areas? Does it support an infrastructure that is scalable across all the dimensions (such as size, query freedom and concurrent users) that we mentioned previously? An array of choices in enterprise applications bewilders SMBs. Click here to read more. The emergence of data warehouse appliance vendors has also confused the issue. These infrastructure offerings clearly deliver analytic capabilities against very large amounts of data. They can support normalized models and multiple subject areas. Can you build a true EDW on a data warehouse appliance? Well, currently they lack features—such as workload management and business continuance features—that are required to meet our EDW attributes four and five. To be sure, an EDW is not the be-all and end-all solution for every business analytic need. There remain legitimate needs for large-scale tactical analytic processing (such as nightly billing) or for single-subject data marts that do not require the complex extraction and transformation of data required by an EDW. Still, the need for organizations to create an environment that contains a single corporation-wide view of the data is becoming critical for business decision-makers. Organizations must clearly evaluate what their needs and objectives are before making the decision to proceed with a solution that may look like an enterprise data warehouse but is in fact something completely different. Charles Garry is an independent industry analyst based in Simsbury, Conn. He is a former vice president with META Groups Technology Research Services. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.


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