The definition of a data warehouse as a "place for secondhand data that originates elsewhere" is typical of the humorous (but true, if you think about it!) perspective on data warehousing provided in Data Warehousing for Dummies, by Alan R. Simon, published by IDG Books. While I don't normally review books in this column, I am making an exception because of this book's uniqueness among data warehousing reading material. This is a familiar yellow and black "For Dummies" book, complete with a tear-out "cheat sheet" covering data warehouse levels of complexity, trends and Web sites, along with an OLAP glossary. Imagine tearing the cheat sheet out and keeping it in your day-timer or on your bulletin board so that you have "what to do with a data warehouse" at your immediate fingertips.

Believe it or not, with these phrases Simon has captured the essence of what value various types of business intelligence tools bring to data warehousing. The book has cartoons, bullet points on what's to be found in each part and chapter, and icons in the margins to alert the reader to tips, cautions, trends, things to remember and technical stuff. (The icon for technical stuff shows a geek, while the caution icon shows a bomb, etc.) Every data warehouse book has a brief history of the concept. However, most books don't mention disco, leisure suits and platform shoes in that section. Data Warehousing for Dummies does! Simon's writing style gets to the point in an engaging manner. Whether discussing the restocking of data, the use of data warehousing consultants or data warehouse project management, Simon makes the reader want to keep reading.

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