Q:

What are the major issues that telcos face in deciding whether or not to switch from centralized to distributed/federated data warehousing platforms?

A:

Joe Oates’ Answer: First off, I am not a fan of distributed/federated data warehouse architectures for many reasons including:

  1. Usually, the different data marts/data warehouses have different data structures and different names for the same kind of data. They may even be implemented on different DBMS platforms. This requires a sophisticated user to formulate queries that resolve these differences.
  2. Getting information that is scattered across many databases can take a really, really long time due to distributed joins and other distributed set operations.
  3. There is a high probability of overlapping data.
  4. Due to the differing times of updating the various components, there is a high probability of data in some of the databases not being as current as others.
  5. The result of the last two items is a high probability of bad data resulting in bad decisions. I have seen this in several organizations. It was this coupled with the cost that drove these organizations to adapt an integrated data warehouse approach.
  6. This approach is generally a very expensive approach compared to an integrated approach.

I think it would be a mistake to switch from an integrated data warehouse environment to distributed/federated architecture. I have seen several organizations try the distributed/federated approach, but no long-term success. Each of these organizations switched to an integrated data warehouse with data marts off of the central data warehouse.

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