Author’s Note: Last week's column discussed how an operational data store (ODS) can address real-world needs for information integration. This column further defines the ODS and examines its role as an infrastructure for e- Business integration.
An ODS is typically deployed as a mid-tier database placed between applications and databases of record. It may be configured for temporary caching or persistent storage. An ODS is an assembly point for diverse data in that it pulls data from databases of record and transforms it into structures that applications can read. In some cases, applications can write data to an ODS which, in turn, writes back to the databases of record. In these cases, the ODS may serve as a hub for application integration via database mechanisms like triggers.
An ODS may contain calculated fields, but it seldom summarizes or aggregates data to the extreme that a data warehouse does. Whereas a warehouse often contains historic data, the point of an ODS is to represent the state of data now, without keeping a historic record. Furthermore, the data structures in an ODS are usually relational, not multidimensional. In fact, some ODSs contain a single, large and straightforward table (with, say, a customer record per row) optimized for fast look-up. ODSs are by nature transactional so they can be updated frequently and quickly.
Most ODSs today are "home grown," but a few software vendors offer ODS-related products and services. Examples include e2e from Acta Technology, Customer Advantage from the NUMA-Q division of IBM (formerly Sequent Computer), InteractionPlus from NCR Teradata, and Transactional Data Store from Daman Consulting.
THE HURWITZ TAKE: Hurwitz Group sees the ODS as an emerging infrastructure for the information integration that e-Business requires. The ODS joins the ranks of other infrastructures that can be used for e-Business integration, namely data warehouses, data marts, corporate portals, extranets, knowledge management systems and message brokers for enterprise application integration.
Organizations planning their e-Business integration strategies should consider an ODS. It can be designed, deployed and maintained with well- understood relational database technologies. Besides its role as the collector of disparate data, an ODS due to its caching ability can also contribute to the overall speed and scalability of today's n-tier architectures. More to the point, however, an ODS can enable the rapid and broad access to information that e-Business requires.
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