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CHAPTER 3: Trends in Data Warehousing. CHAPTER OBJECTIVES Review the continued growth in data warehousing Learn how data warehousing is becoming mainstream Discuss several major trends, one by one Grasp the need for standards and review the progress.

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Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing


Trends in Data Warehousing

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing


  • Review the continued growth in data warehousing

  • Learn how data warehousing is becoming mainstream

  • Discuss several major trends, one by one

  • Grasp the need for standards and review the progress

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

  • Continued Growth in Data Warehousing

    • Data Warehousing is Becoming Mainstream

    • Data Warehouse Expansion

    • Vendor Solutions and Products

  • Significant Trends

    • Multiple Data Types

    • Data Visualization

    • Parallel Processing

    • Query Tools

    • Browser Tools

    • Data Fusion

    • Agent Technology

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Continued Growth in Data Warehousing

In every industry across the board, from retail chain stores to financial institutions, from manufacturing enterprises to government departments, from airline companies to utility businesses, data warehousing is revolutionizing the way people perform business analysis and make strategic decisions.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Data Warehousing is Becoming Mainstream

  • In the early stages, four significant factors drove many companies to move into data warehousing:

  • Fierce competition

  • Government deregulation

  • Need to revamp internal processes

  • Imperative for customized marketing

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Data Warehouse Expansion

Now companies have the ability to capture, cleanse, maintain, and use the vast amounts of data generated by their business transactions. The quantities of data kept in the data warehouses continue to swell to the terabyte range. Data warehouses storing several terabytes of data are not uncommon in retail and telecommunications.

For example, take the telecommunications industry. A telecommunications company generates hundreds of millions of call-detail transactions in a year. For promoting the proper products and services, the company needs to analyze these detailed transactions. The data warehouse for the company has to store data at the lowest level of detail.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Vendor Solutions and Products

With so many vendors and products, how can we classify the vendors and products, and thereby make sense of the market? It is best to separate the market broadly into two distinct groups.

The first group consists of data warehouse vendors and products catering to the needs of corporate data warehouses in which all of enterprise data is integrated and transformed. This segment has been referred to as the market for strategic data warehouses. This segment accounts for about a quarter of the total market.

The second segment is more loose and dispersed, consisting of departmental data marts, fragmented database marketing systems, and a wide range of decision support systems. Specific vendors and products dominate each segment.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Significant Trends

Let us separate out the significant trends and discuss each briefly. Be prepared to visit each trend, one by one—every one has a serious impact on data warehousing. As we walk through each trend, try to grasp its significance and be sure that you perceive its relevance to your company’s data warehouse. Be prepared to answer the question:

What must you do to take advantage of the trend in your data warehouse?

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Multiple Data Types

  • Traditionally, companies included structured data, mostly numeric, in their data warehouses. From this point of view, decision support systems were divided into two camps:

    • Data warehousing dealt with structured data

    • Knowledge management involved unstructured data.

  • For example, most marketing data consists of structured data in the form of numeric values. Marketing data also contains unstructured data in the form of images.

  • Let us say a decision maker is performing an analysis to find the top selling product types. The decision maker arrives at a specific product type in the course of the analysis. He or she would now like to see images of the products in that type to make further decisions. How can this be made possible? Companies are realizing there is a need to integrate both structured and unstructured data in their data warehouses.

What are the types of data we call unstructured data? Figure 3-4 shows the different types of data that need to be integrated in the data warehouse to support decision making more effectively.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Figure 3-4 Data warehouse: multiple data types.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Adding Unstructured Data. Some vendors are addressing the inclusion of unstructured data, especially text and images, by treating such multimedia data as just another data type. These are defined as part of the relational data and stored as binary large objects (BLOBs) up to 2 GB in size. User-defined functions (UDFs) are used to define these as user-defined types (UDTs).

Searching Unstructured Data. You have enhanced your data warehouse by adding unstructured data. Is there anything else you need to do?

Of course, without the ability to search unstructured data, integration of such data is of little value. Vendors are now providing new search engines to find the information the user needs from unstructured data. Query by image content is an example of a search mechanism for images.

The product allows you to pre-index images based on shapes, colors, and textures.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Data Visualization

When a user queries your data warehouse and expects to see results only in the form of output lists or spreadsheets, your data warehouse is already outdated.

You need to display results in the form of graphics and charts as well. Every user now expects to see the results shown as charts. Visualization of data in the result sets boosts the process of analysis for the user, especially when the user is looking for trends over time.

Data visualization helps the user to interpret query results quickly and easily.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Major Visualization Trends. In the last few years, three major trends have shaped the direction of data visualization software.

More Chart Types. Most data visualizations are in the form of some standard chart type. The numerical results are converted into a pie chart, a scatter plot, or another chart type.

Interactive Visualization. Visualizations are no longer static. Dynamic chart types are themselves user interfaces. Your users can review a result chart, manipulate it, and then see newer views online.

Visualization of Complex and Large Result Sets. You users can view a simple series of numeric result points as a rudimentary pie or bar chart. But newer visualization software can visualize thousands of result points and complex data structures.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Visualization Types. Visualization software now supports a large array of chart

types. The current needs of users vary enormously.

The business users demand pie and bar charts.

The technical and scientific users need scatter plots and constellation graphs.

Analysts looking at spatial data need maps and other three-dimensional representations.

Executives and managers, who need to monitor performance metrics, like digital dashboards that allow them to visualize the metrics as speedometers, thermometers, or traffic lights.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Advanced Visualization Techniques. The most remarkable advance in visualization techniques is the transition from static charts to dynamic interactive presentations.

Chart Manipulation. A user can rotate a chart or dynamically change the chart type to get a clearer view of the results. With complex visualization types such as scatter plots, a user can select data points with a mouse and then move the points around to clarify the view.

Drill Down. The visualization first presents the results at the summary level. The user can then drill down the visualization to display further visualizations at subsequent levels of detail.

Advanced Interaction. These techniques provide a minimally invasive user interface. The user simply double clicks a part of the visualization and then drags and drops representations of data entities. Or, the user simply right clicks and chooses options from a menu. Visual query is the most advanced of user interaction features.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Parallel Processing

You know that the data warehouse is a user-centric and query-intensive environment. Your users will constantly be executing complex queries to perform all types of analyses. Each query would need to read large volumes of data to produce result sets.

Analysis, usually performed interactively, requires the execution of several queries, one after the other, by each user. If the data warehouse is not tuned properly for handling large, complex, simultaneous queries efficiently, the value of the data warehouse will be lost.

A task is divided into smaller units and these smaller units are executed concurrently.

Parallel Processing Hardware Options. In a parallel processing environment, you will find these characteristics: multiple CPUs, memory modules, one or more server nodes, and high-speed communication links between interconnected nodes.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

  • Parallel Processing Software Implementation. You may choose the appropriateparallel processing hardware configuration for your data warehouse.

  • Parallel processing software must be capable of performing the following steps:

  • Analyzing a large task to identify independent units that can be executed in parallel

  • Identifying which of the smaller units must be executed one after the other

  • Executing the independent units in parallel and the dependent units in the proper sequence

  • Collecting and consolidating the results returned by the smaller units

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

  • Database vendors usually provide two options for parallel processing:

  • parallel server option and parallel query option.

  • The parallel server option allows each hardware node to have its own separate database instance, and enables all database instances to access a common set of underlying database files.

  • The parallel query option supports key operations such as query processing, data loading, and index creation to be parallelized.

  • In summary, advantages when you adopt parallel processing in your data warehouse:

  • Performance improvement for query processing, data loading, and index creation

  • Scalability, allowing the addition of CPUs and memory modules without any

  • changes to the existing application

  • Fault tolerance so that the database would be available even when some of the parallel processors fail

  • Single logical view of the database even though the data may reside on the disks of multiple nodes

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Query Tools processing:

  • In a data warehouse, if there is one set of functional tools that are most significant, it is the set of query tools. The success of your data warehouse depends on your query tools. Because of this, data warehouse vendors have improved query tools during the past few years.

  • The following functions for which vendors have greatly enhanced their query tools.

  • Flexible presentation—Easy to use and able to present results online and on reports in many different formats.

  • Aggregate awareness—Able to recognize the existence of summary or aggregate tables and automatically route queries to the summary tables

  • Crossing subject areas—Able to cross over from one subject data mart to another automatically.

  • Multiple heterogeneous sources—Capable of accessing heterogeneous data sources on different platforms.

  • Integration—Integrate query tools for online queries, batch reports, and data extraction for analysis.

  • Overcoming SQL limitations—Provide SQL extensions to handle requests that cannot usually be done through standard SQL.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Browser Tools processing:

  • Some recent trends in enhancements to browser tools:

  • Tools are extensible to allow definition of any type of data.

  • Inclusion of open APIs (application program interfaces).

  • Provision of several types of browsing functions.

  • Allowing users to browse the catalog (data dictionary or metadata).

  • Applying Web browsing and search techniques to browse through the information catalogs.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Data Fusion processing:

Data fusion is a technology dealing with the merging of data from disparate sources. It has a wider scope and includes real-time merging of data from instruments and monitoring systems.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

Agent Technology processing:

A software agent is a program that is capable of performing a predefined programmable task on behalf of the user.

For example, on the Internet, software agents can be used to

sort and filter out e-mail according to rules defined by the user. Within the data warehouse,

software agents are beginning to be used to alert the users of predefined business conditions.

They are also beginning to be used extensively in conjunction with data mining

and predictive modeling techniques.

Chapter 3 trends in data warehousing

  • CHAPTER processing: SUMMARY

  • Data warehousing is becoming mainstream with the spread of high-volume data warehouses and the rapid increase in the number of vendor products.

  • To be effective, modern data warehouses need to store multiple types of data: structured and unstructured, including documents, images, audio, and video.

  • Data visualization deals with displaying information in several types of visual forms: text, numerical arrays, spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and so on. Tremendous progress has been made in data visualization.

  • Data warehouse performance may be improved by using parallel processing with appropriate hardware and software options.

  • It is critical to adapt data warehousing to work with ERP packages, knowledge management, and customer relationship systems.

  • Data warehousing industry is seriously seeking agreed-upon standards for metadata and OLAP. The end is perhaps in sight.