As we discussed in my previous column, big data warehouses are back in style. In a 2004 TDWI study, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they were adopting a centralized data warehousing architecture, i.e., using a single enterprise data warehouse (EDW) with no associated data marts or operational data store (ODS) systems. We have come full circle to the early 1990s, when this approach led the initial data warehousing wave.

In addition to the motivation of consolidation and cost cutting, many people felt that an EDW would be the easiest path to creating the elusive "single version of the truth." After all, it lets you avoid creating those pesky data marts, not to mention managing the associated data integration to ensure that all their reports and analysis are consistent. Many see the data silos - multiple data warehouses, data marts, ODSs and cubes - created during the Internet boom and cry, "No more!" They think it's overcomplicated and want to put everything into one data warehouse that is integrated and consistent. Because a centralized, standalone EDW is an easy architecture to describe and understand, it seems like the clear path to take. But is it really that simple?

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