Data warehouse systems (a.k.a., data marts, business intelligence systems, etc.) are becoming much more "operational support" than "decision support" in nature. There used to be a significant difference between operational support systems and decision support systems in the manner in which a company was dependent upon them.

Transaction processing systems tended towards 24 x 7 (or at least 20 x 6), and data warehouse systems were 12 x 5. Now, day-to-day business operations, end of the month accounting, and even SEC filings are dependent on data warehouse systems, and the line between OSS and DSS systems is blurring. Modern application systems now routinely use data warehousing technology in support of day-to-day operations. For example, CRM systems almost always incorporate technology first developed for operational data stores and marketing information warehouses.

As a result, we are seeing classical OSS architectural standards being incorporated into data warehouse/CRM systems, such as:

  • Separate test, development, and QA platforms, often full-scale.
  • Rigid change management.
  • Inclusion of "DSS" systems in business continuance (i.e., disaster recovery) planning.

There are several aspects of technology that have enabled this progression:

  • The continued reduction in hardware costs, especially in disk technology, make it economically possible to have separate development, QA,

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  • and recovery systems.
  • Improvement in database technology so that we now have the ability to insert massive amounts of data while the system is being accessed, enabling (near) real-time data feeds.
  • Sophisticated ETL tools and "hub and spoke" systems and standards facilitate the establishment and operation of systems that move data from source systems to targets, and vice versa.

To recap, the data warehouse industry has matured greatly over the past few years in the nature of the supplier community -- the way they deliver solutions with less risk and the manner in which the solutions are taking on characteristics of operation support systems.

For more information, check out SearchCRM's Best Web Links on Data Warehousing.

This was first published in June 2002

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