Data warehousing began in the 1980s as a response to the lack of information provided by the many online application systems that were being built. Online applications served the needs of a limited community of users, and they were rarely integrated with each other. Additionally, online applications had no appreciable amount of historical data because they jettisoned their historical data as quickly as possible in the name of high performance. Thus, corporations had lots of data and very little information. Data warehousing began as a way to reduce users' frustration with their inability to get integrated, reliable, accessible data.

The definition for a data warehouse was and still is today: A source of data that is subject oriented, integrated, nonvolatile and time variant for the purpose of management's decision processes.

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