A significant amount of interest has been expressed in the press and over the Internet recently concerning the architectural construct of the operational data store (ODS). It seems that all of the publications agree that the ODS database concept is necessary to support the tactical decision-making processes of all enterprises. Yet, a few of the authors have implied that the ODS is part of a data warehouse (DW). We have found, from years of systems implementations, that it is impractical to combine the data structures of an ODS with that of a DW. The objective of this article is to present what an ODS is and why it is a separate database construct from the DW. The DW and the ODS serve as part of an overall architecture, the Corporate Information Factory1 (CIF). The data warehouse gives us a time-trended, historical perspective of the information required for strategic decision support. Using the data warehouse, we look for long-term patterns and trends, such as buying habits of consumers in certain regions of the country. To support that analysis, we may store data in the DW based upon hourly time increments, by day, by order, by SKU, by store. There is no question that a DW must contain very detailed data and maintain that data over a long period of time. It is the level of detail and time span of the data that make the DW database scheme impractical to use for tactical decision support.

Tactical decision support functions require more than a lower level of detail data. The frequency of update to the data is required at least daily, and many require near real-time to real-time updates. This high frequency of data updates is required for tactical business and technical management functions such as:

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