I was recently at a data warehouse event, and the sign on the door read "Data Wherehouse." While this was an obvious spelling error, it also points out one of the benefits of the data warehouse—the data warehouse provides the business community with the information concerning the location of the data. The data warehouse does this in a number of ways. Where Did the Data Originate? The first answer to "where" is provided by the source system analysis. Source system analysis entails a number of steps, the first of which is identifying the location of data that could be used as a source for the data warehouse. While there is usually an obvious source for data, the search should include a review of the less likely sources so that the integration process can be thoroughly designed. For example, if customer data is needed within the data warehouse, the obvious choice is the customer master file (or files). This search for possible sources should continue, and it may uncover small marketing or sales applications that are used to enter or modify customer data in disparate files. The more complete search for where data exists helps improve data quality within the data warehouse and also identifies opportunities for improving the operational data collection process.

Once all the potential data sources are identified and reviewed, a decision needs to be made concerning the "system (or systems) of record" to be used for the data "wherehouse." Once that decision is made, "Where did the data originate?" can be answered.

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