Assume for this discussion that we have (after long deliberation) worked out that we need a third normal form (3NF) operational data store (ODS) - with a real operational need for cross-source integration and, perhaps, some operational reporting requirements to fulfill. Most people, though probably not all, would agree that 3NF is not the most optimal storage model for large-volume analytical reporting. However, most people would agree that 3NF is a great format as a source for some downstream analytical data store, where the data is usually stored in a more dimensional (implied: denormalized) and query-friendly format. There are very lively and interesting ongoing debates about whether such dimensional models should be on transaction-level grain or only summarized.

The part of the debate we focus on here often brings people to the just-in-case decision to make the ODS also time-variant, so that future analytical needs can be met by keeping a full history, in 3NF, in the ODS. This ODS, then, serves two purposes, the second being the very nonoperational purpose of keeping a full history of the organization's data.

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