You know you have data.You know that it’s stored…somewhere.
Maybe that somewhere is a server, hidden away in a dark closet at the end of a hallway.
Maybe that somewhere is a series of spreadsheets.Or maybe that somewhere is inside your current management software.If you chose the last option, it’s likely that you in fact have a series of somewheres in which different aspects of your business data is housed.
But first let’s talk about wheat, corn cobs, and gravel.
I promise this tangent has a point.
Farm silos are a fixed feature of the landscape in many parts of the world.And anyone who has driven through an agricultural area may have noticed a variety in types of silos.
There are bins
There are towers
And there are bunkers
Each silo’s shape is based on its contents and how those contents are loaded and unloaded. Tower silos work best for materials that can pack together easily from their own weight.
Wheat for example compresses down nicely into the bottom of a tower silo and can then be easily unloaded into a train car or truck trailer.
Corn on the cob best spreads itself through a bin. The bin’s larger diameter means that the corn dries while being stored and is easy to remove for transport.
Finally the bunker silo can be quickly loaded and unloaded but doesn’t provide protection.
Materials like gravel that can be scooped up with a backhoe and loaded into a truck. And gravel doesn’t require protection from the elements after all.
In the picture above there each material is enclosed within its own set of walls or criteria.Each is comfortable within its silo and is easily accessible. However a farmer can’t easily gather materials from all three of his silos at once.
So say one day that the farmer is asked to bring a truck full of grain, corn cobs, and gravel. With disconnected silos he will have to pull materials from each silo and load it into his truck before transporting it.
That is where the warehouse comes into play.
By accessing material from all three silos the farmer can pull materials from each silo whenever needed. By connecting all of the storage containers the farmer can simultaneously fill his truck with materials from every silo.
Ok, but how does that apply to your data?
Just like the silos of the American Midwest data silos are designed to match the properties of the data they hold and the processes through which that data can be retrieved.
Each silo is a database that “stores real-time information about one particular” aspect of your business functions.
Just as the farmer can’t simultaneously retrieve grain, corn cobs, and gravel the business with multiple databases can’t pull information from all places to perform complex analyses.
A ”data warehouse is a system that pulls together data from many different sources within an organisation for reporting and analysis”.
A data warehouse makes it possible to perform complex “queries very quickly, deliver high data throughput, and provide enough flexibility…to ‘slice and dice’…data for closer examination”.
In this age of big data having a basic database is no longer enough. Building a data warehouse gives your organisation the power to analyse your data and make well informed decisions