One of the most frequent questions I get after speeches is, "Please explain what federated means. Isn't it the same as conformed dimensions, etc.?" As long- time readers of this column know, a federated architecture is not a pure, elegant design of any type. Rather, it is a pragmatic manifestation of the political and system realities of day-to-day corporate life. This is a nice way of saying that it is sub-optimal which is a politically correct way of saying that like most real business intelligence (BI)/data warehousing (DW) systems, it can be pretty ugly when you get down to the real nuts and bolts of putting it together and making it work.
If there's one thing the last decade of BI has taught us, it is that there is no panacea. There is no silver bullet and no single answer that will save the day for every team attempting to design and build a productive, politically sustainable, integrated information resource for their business. It is my opinion that neither top-down nor bottom-up approaches will universally save the day and that monolithic hub-and-spoke or architected, conformed data marts will not guarantee success. Many organizations today have multiple data warehouse systems that are a hodge-podge of top-down and bottom-up approaches, monolithic hub-and-spoke, subject area DWs and architected and non-architected data mart systems.
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