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When consolidating two data warehouses, is it better to create a unique logical enterprise data model or use master data management and a service-oriented architecture to enable query, reporting and analysis as a service?

  • Sid Adelman, Larissa Moss, Clay Rehm, Majid Abai
  • September 05 2006, 1:00am EDT
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Q: I work in Milan (UniCredit Group) as a business intelligence (BI) architect. We want to consolidate two different data warehouses (Italian DW plus German DW using in a unique data model). I'd like to know if it's correct to create a unique logical enterprise data model or is it more correct have a master data management plus service-oriented architecture (SOA) as the correct environment in order to permit query, reporting and analysis as a service?

Majid Abai's Answer:

Let's compare the two approaches: It is always great to have a unique enterprise model and consolidate the 2 DWs in order to create one global DW. However, this takes time and effort. On the other hand, the idea of having a services-based architecture to access this data is also compelling. However, in my opinion, the fundamental problem with SOA is that currently services are designed to retrieve or update atomic data (a small subset of records). I have not yet seen a robust services-based tool that is able to retrieve data for analytical purposes (thousands of records) and hesitate to build an enterprise level architecture around it until the tool is found.

So, this is my suggestion: start with creating an enterprise model and moving towards the consolidation of the two DWs. However, continue to research the market for maturity of an analytically focused services-based tool to utilize. While the back-end is being consolidated, the tools for the front-end will be matured.

Sid Adelman's Answer:

Why do you either want to or need to consolidate into a common model? Is the effort to consolidate worth it? What compromises will have to be made and how will they hurt the final effort? By having a common model, will something important be lost? Will the compromised model be one that neither team likes? Will the German or the Italian team win the battles and will the losers accept defeat willingly?

Larissa Moss's Answer:

An enterprise data model (EDM) and master data management (MDM) plus service oriented architecture (SOA) are not mutually exclusive. The EDM is a logical data model of the business, while MDM and SOA are physical implementation methods. There is no better integration analysis technique than creating an EDM because of the rigorous normalization and data administration principles applied to the EDM, no matter what type of implementation method is chosen.

Clay Rehm's Answer:

This is a very good question. There are benefits to both options and I believe if you did it right, either option would work for you. One thing to keep in mind that slows done enterprise model efforts is the involvement of very large groups with specific data elements that does not interest everybody. The key here is to focus first on the key data elements the majority of the enterprise cares about and implement that first.

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