When it comes to data warehouse query performance, speed is everything. Faster performance means needed data and analysis is available to act upon quickly. In order to achieve this goal, data warehouse experts agree that data aggregates can be a very powerful tool. According to Ralph Kimball, expert and author of The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit, data warehouse administrators can "expect anywhere from a tenfold to a thousandfold improvement in runtime performance by having the right aggregates available."
Aggregates are pre-stored summary records held in a data warehouse. They are usually built from the base layer upward, culminating in high-level totals. For example, a data warehouse administrator may decide to build aggregates for sales based on product, store and time-related totals such as month and year. Tables of aggregates eliminate the time and resources required to summarize data each time it is needed to respond to a query, allowing the query to be answered very efficiently in just a few seconds.
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