I am sure that all of you over the age of 25 or so remember the great, the all- knowing, the omniscient seer, Carnac the Magnificent, who appeared from time to time on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. You probably thought that Carnac disappeared into thin air when the show was canceled. 'Tain't so. In fact, I hired him to work with us on our recent study of data warehouse/decision support markets, Database Solutions II. In this month's column, Carnac shares some of his astounding insights into the future with us. On the Internet: "You better make sure that your warehouse is Internet-enabled (and/or intranet) if you want anyone to use it. Even if you don't need Internet access now, you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll have to have it in the near future."

On Operational Data Stores: "While less than half the users out there are doing anything with operational data stores, the notion is gaining in popularity. It's a good idea to make an effort to analyze your own situation to determine if you might benefit from the adoption of operational data store concepts in the near future. More than half the users out there will be adopting it within three years."

On whether or not it's smart to dedicate a separate system to the warehouse or to use a single platform for both OLTP and warehousing: "The jury is out. The real issues here aren't as much technical as they are related to control. All the old saws that were trumpeted years ago when client/server was supposed to be eating the mainframe's lunch are still being played today in the data warehouse space. Management issues are always complicated and it's folly to try to generalize. What's good for the goose isn't always great for the gander."

On the subject of direct linkage: "Directly linking the output of a decision support system to an operational system such that decisions are automatically implemented is definitely in the cards for a majority of users. The issues involved are often subjective; that is, one of trust and, of course, the old control bugaboo is there as well. Nevertheless, allowing decisions made by intelligent warehouses to be put into action without human intervention is going to save companies and government agencies lots of money. In the end, economic incentives will out."

With regard to multimedia- capable databases: "A couple of years ago, everybody said that they would need multimedia in the near future; but if you asked them what they needed it for, most didn't have a clue! Today the most popular multimedia applications will involve document management in one form or other. Multimedia will also become important for the preparation of marketing and sales materials and for training. Other applications include mapping and product data display. Forward- thinking organizations will lay the groundwork for future multimedia today."

When pressed on the issue of how data warehouses will play in the ERP space, Carnac lifted his arms, gazed off into a far galaxy and pronounced: "I can paraphrase the advice espoused to ERP software customers by most ERP software vendors as 'Don't do anything until we tell you what you should do.' This is a well-known military strategy; i.e., 'Nobody move until further orders are received.' The major ERP vendors have only recently become aware that data warehousing is going to become a very big part of the enterprise resource market, but they don't know a lot about it. Although I, Carnac the Magnificent, know (of course) which ones will succeed, the answer will not be forthcoming until my next incarnation. Stay tuned."

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