Perhaps the biggest marketplace that is developing for data warehousing is that of total solutions. When it comes to total solutions for data warehousing, there are four prominent vendors: SAP with its BW offering, SAS with its integrated suite of products, PeopleSoft with its EPM offering and Computer Associates with its broad product line.

Each of these vendors offers a total solution rather than a point solution. Sure, there are other point solutions in the marketplace. There are OLAP products, ETL products and analytic offerings. However, aside from these vendors, no one has offered a holistic approach.

The SAS product line is perhaps the earliest solution in the marketplace. It is robust and has special strengths in data mining and exploration. However, in truth, SAS has done a good job of covering the other bases for needs such as ETL, analytics, data marts, and so forth. SAS is a player when it comes to solutions.

The most pleasantly surprising solution is that of SAP. Three years ago, SAP had R/3. Then, they appeared on the scene with BW. With a few releases, BW has come a very long way in a short amount of time. SAP's BW looks very much like the corporate information factory framework. The SAP solution is architecturally a very good solution with promise of getting better.

Another pleasant surprise is the PeopleSoft offering. PeopleSoft started (much as SAP started) with a rendition of the corporate information factory that appeared to be data-mart centric. However, new releases of the EPM product have greatly enhanced the data warehouse aspect of the product so that PeopleSoft is to the point where they – like SAS and SAP – strongly resemble the corporate information factory.

When it comes to solutions, Computer Associates (CA) must be mentioned. Computer Associates has undoubtedly the largest collection of software in the world. From this large collection come the many pieces needed for a true solution. The different components of the corporate information factory can be pieced together to form a cohesive infrastructure. In this regard, CA surely qualifies as a data warehouse/corporate information factory provider of a solution, not just point products.

Why are solutions the wave of the future? Organizations have had a hard time building their own data warehouses, and they would much prefer a vendor to come in and present a full and integrated solution. Today's modern organization is one that installs and implements, not builds from scratch. Accordingly, the solutions vendors are in a position to call the shots in data warehousing for years to come. Unlike other companies, the solutions vendors understand that the data warehouse is about architecture and infrastructure, not technology.

In short, the world of data warehousing is a changing world. Once a fragmented point-solution world, data warehousing has become an architectural world where the corporate information factory is at the center of the table and solutions, not technologies, are the driving force.

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