Do we need a single, enterprise-wide data warehouse, or are the information-intensive departments' data marts sufficient? This question is an industry debate and a common one for organizations that are considering an investment in an integrated information system. Data marts are often an attractive alternative to the mammoth job of implementing an enterprise-wide data warehouse.

A data warehouse incorporates information about many subject areas--often the entire enterprise--while the data mart focuses on one or more subject areas. The data mart represents only a portion of an enterprise's data--perhaps data related to a business unit or work group. Typically, a data mart's data is targeted to a smaller audience of end users or used to present information on a smaller scope.

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