Ten years ago, in the early days of data warehousing, there was only one approach and one architecture. The business-driven demands of the market led to the evolution of multiple approaches and architectures for data warehouse systems. As the market grew into business intelligence (BI) and data warehouses became one of many components of complex, heterogeneous BI systems, multiple layers of architectures developed. As BI has matured, three tiers of architecture have evolved: global, fiefdom and project (see Figure 1).

Global architectures function at a meta or enterprise level and serve to integrate lower-level architectures. Fiefdom architectures function at a corporate or functional level and serve targeted needs of organizations or functional groups. The project level is fundamentally nonarchitected and commonly serves the needs of departments or initiatives.

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