Characteristics and Benefits of a Data Warehouse
What is a data warehouse?
A data warehouse is a database which is specially designed to question and analyze the previous data rather than the transactional data. Most of the data warehouses store historical data as opposed to the current transactional data. It can however include data from other sources and hence is useful in analysis and reports of market trends and overall business performance.
What are the characteristics of a data warehouse?
According to one of the experts in data warehousing, William Imnon, a data warehouse is a repository for every business. It is in fact at the heart of the Central Information Factory (CIF) of every company and must be used for business intelligence and strategies. Imnon goes further to describe the following characteristics of a data warehouse:
- Data warehouses are subject oriented. This is because they are designed to analyze information on a particular subject. Organizations can therefore create data warehouses for different subjects e.g. Sales data warehouses, suppliers data warehouses etc. in effect the data warehouse should give you all information regarding the particular subject it is created for.
- Data warehouses are supposed to be integrated in the sense that they collect information on a particular subject from different sources and store it together in a comprehensive form. This means that any detail regarding the subject matter can be accurately located in the data warehouse. Problems regarding differentiations in data storage should be quickly resolved through data warehouses and the data should be stored in a consistent format.
- Data warehouses must be non-volatile. This simply means that any data stored in the warehouse must retain its original form. There should be no changes whatsoever in the data because it is meant to capture and facilitate analysis of historical aspects of the company.
- Data warehouses have to be time variant in that they should store large amounts of data that focus on changes experienced over time. This helps to analyze trends and business performance as well as growth over time.
- Data warehouses must be physical. There is no virtualization done since only copies of transactions are stored.
What are the benefits of a data warehouse?
Every company needs to have a data warehouse for the following reasons
- Data warehouses can comprehensively store data from multiple disparate sources into a single database making it easy for companies to find out information on a particular subject matter of the company.
- Data warehouses help to organize and maintain data history long after the transaction systems have deleted the data.
- Data warehouses may act as a reference source for previous important information especially where a company undergoes major changes such as mergers.
- Data warehouses help organizations to store their information systematically and consistently.
- They help to improve the quality of data by fixing bad data and providing consistent descriptive detailed codes for identifying data on each subject matter.
- Data warehouses also restructure data making it logical and more user friendly to business persons.
- Data warehouses are the perfect solutions to slow and poor transaction processing systems caused by attempts to run large data.
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