Data warehouses have now been with us for over a decade and will be with us for many years to come. However, with virtually all business data now created electronically and the price of storage dropping like a rock, a new type of business intelligence repository is starting to appear - the process warehouse (PW).

As we all know, a data warehouse is a data repository built from the get-go for business intelligence. The seminal idea was to pull important data from operational systems, transform it and put it into a database tuned for queries. The benefits would be several - transaction systems wouldn't take a performance hit due to end-user queries, and the business would have a well-ordered history which would give it guidance for the future. The initial idea has been refined over the years - that data warehouses should be smaller, or geared toward a single subject (data marts); that corporate-wide data models are essential; that the refreshing of data warehouses should be increased to make them more real time. The list goes on.

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