Building an Enterprise Data Warehouse in Days

 
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Author: Koen Vanden Bossche

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Building an Enterprise Data Warehouse in Days

When talking about an Enterprise Data Warehouse, many people see it as a monolithic, full-blown castle. It will take months before there is something they can work with and it will cost businesses a lot of money. In many cases, this combination of the long delay before the added value materializes and the financial risks is a showstopper. Thus, people no longer want to start building “the castle”.

The problem here is the underlying conception that, because data from different source systems needs to be combined to build the required reports, the only solution is a vast Enterprise Data Warehouse.
Luckily, this is a misconception…

Building a City, One House at a Time

It is good, even required, to think big, but why not start small and expand the model piece by piece in order to obtain “the castle” in the end? Actually, let’s forget about the castle analogy. An Enterprise Data Warehouse is more like a city; with roads, houses, utilities,…
Just like a city, building the Enterprise Data Warehouse is not a single process; you start with one house and expand to more over time, thus “Think big, start small”.

The difference between building a real city is that you are not building houses of stones but houses of data.
Much like in real life, the foundations are the critical part of your project. Without proper urban planning your city will fail and without a proper foundation your house will collapse.

The most important foundations of an Enterprise Data Warehouse are technology and methodology.
Some questions that need to be answered are: Do we want the work to be done on-premise or in the cloud? Which database will we use? SQL Server, Oracle, Snowflake,…? What model (Dimensional, Data Vault, Anchor Model,…) will we use? These are all questions that need your attention. An architect can come in very handy to help you answer those questions.
The method of working is also important. Especially in the BI world, working agile applies to many business cases. By building the houses in an agile way you can already show the business a small part of the Enterprise Data Warehouse after just a few days. Next, you can ask for feedback. This will help the business be more involved in the building process. Moreover, if the people who need to work with the Enterprise Data Warehouse were expecting something else, changes can still be applied in time before the final delivery.

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Technology Selection

What technology should be used?
In this modern day and age, working in the cloud offers you a lot of benefits. If you want to host everything on-premise then some heavy investments must be made. You have to purchase hardware, software, security systems,… resulting in CaPex or Capital Expenditure. Moreover, you have to keep it all up-to-date. All this overhead will delay the actual building of the Enterprise Data Warehouse. 

However, if you are going to use the cloud, the whole building process becomes much faster. After a few hours of configuration you will already be able to start the build. The cost will also be lower because of the use of an OpEx (Operational Expenses) model. This means that you only pay for what you use. It also depends on the used components whether or not the chosen cloud-provider will keep the components up-to-date; potentially removing this workload from your team.

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We at VisionWorks are currently focused on SQL Server and the Azure cloud, but we are keeping up with all the mainstream technologies. As consultants, it is important that we expand our knowledge constantly by learning new technologies and improve the knowledge of existing ones. If a customer is already using Amazon Web Services, it is not necessary to push them to Azure. At Ordina, we are not afraid of challenges.
So, do not shy away from building an Enterprise Data Warehouse. Do not deny your business the benefits that it could offer. Just give us a call and together we will make your project a success; from getting the business requirements and architecture right, to doing the actual implementation, user training and aftercare.
At Ordina, we keep ahead of the technological changes so you can keep ahead of the competition.

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