Tools to Ease Data Warehouse Loading

Cognos, Informatica tune apps to time and location.

CognosInc. and Informatica Corp. are readying new releases of their respective data extraction, transformation and loading tools that focus on making information in data warehouses more accurate in such dimensions as time and location.

Cognos, of Ottawa, will announce early next month its DecisionStream Series 7 ETL tool, which will support late-arriving facts that can change analysis results. This means that an expense report submitted late can be ascribed to the time frame the expenses occurred in, not when they were submitted. Or a sales representative who changes territories can have forecasts adjusted for the new territory on the fly, officials said.

Previously, these changes made in the hierarchical structure of a data warehouse could be made only with complex coding, officials said. But now, such changes can be made simply by a mouse click on a check box, saving time and IT resources and enabling a data warehouse to respond more quickly to rapidly changing business conditions.

DecisionStream first supported so-called dimensional changes in its 6.5 release, which includes support for slowly changing business conditions.

Separately, Informatica, of Redwood City, Calif., last week introduced Informatica Warehouse, which combines the companys PowerCenter data integration platform with pre-built data warehouse components for customer relationship management, financials, hu- man resources and supply chain analytics. The Warehouse Loader portion of the software, which automates the loading of data into pre-defined data models, supports slowly changing dimensions, as well.

Wells Dairy Inc., in Le Mars, Iowa, uses Informatica products for ETL and query and reporting of its sales data and is looking at Warehouse Loader, said IS Applications Manager David Hair. The support for slowly changing dimensions could prove useful, Hair said. He also noted that it takes a "significant effort" to code for late-arriving facts.

"You have times when sales invoices go out and are paid at different times," Hair said. "So they end up being billed to different general-ledger periods. You have to go back and figure out which period it belongs to."

Informatica last week also announced a new stand-alone business intelligence platform called PowerAnalyzer. Previously, Informatica analytic applications were available only in conjunction with its ETL tools.