Today's competitive business environment, combined with unprecedented levels of affordable computing power, has had a significant impact on business systems. This competitive business environment creates a need for complex analyses of increasing volumes of business data. Today's sophisticated business systems provide large amounts of raw data to support such analyses. One of the technologies resulting from this need to turn vast volumes of business data into meaningful management information is data warehousing. Another is on-line analytical processing (OLAP).

The concept of storing data that is optimized for decision support and keeping it separate from the operational data from which it is derived offers many advantages. Data can be managed to support fast, multidimensional queries. Derived metrics can be effectively computed, wherever possible, and the integrity of the data can be assured as part of the cleansing process that it goes through while being loaded into the warehouse.

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