There is an aspect of data warehouse integration associated with all business intelligence projects. A data warehouse is a stand alone system that stores electronic data. Specially designed software is used to access the data for the sole purpose of analysis and reporting. There is no mechanism to create, modify, or delete data in the warehouse. Instead, the only options are to write queries, create new reports, and look for trends.
There are two options for data warehouse integration: full and data-only. Full integration is a system design model where the data warehouse is built into the primary transactional system. This integration model is commonly found in the latest versions of most enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. The hardware and infrastructure required to support this type of system is substantial and is commonly found in large organizations with dedicated staff.
In the full integration model, the data warehouse accesses data stored in the transactional database. This type of architecture reduces the storage capacity requirements since the warehouse tools are accessing the original data source directly. However, there are additional risks with this type of architecture. There is no opportunity to normalize the data for reporting purposes, creating increased restrictions on data entry.
In the data-only data warehouse integration model, a special data extraction tool is used to identify the required information, normalize, and store the data in the data warehouse. It is important to understand that this type of data must be stored in another database, requiring the purchase of additional storage capacity. The data warehouse can then be integrated with other tools and applications. It is increasingly popular to leverage a data warehouse into an Internet-based tool for reports and metrics.
The skills necessary to achieve either method of data warehouse integration include advanced data management, information system skills, and programming. A deep understanding and background in the systems that will be integrated with the data warehouse is necessary, as is a fundamental understanding of data management techniques. Most people who work in this field have advanced degrees in information technology, math, or statistics. In addition to formal education, experience in developing business intelligence tools and the implementation of this type of technology is a fundamental requirement.
The benefits of data warehouse integration include enhanced reporting capabilities, the ability to review the data in a new way, and new insight into transactional data. This information can be used to influence decision making, define new business strategies, and create new priorities for the organization. It is important to note that staff members need to be trained in this technology to be able to realize any of these possible benefits.