Back in the days of my youth, a rock group named the Who asked the timeless question, "Who are you?" In today's world of data warehousing, many organizations would be hard pressed to answer that question. While many have a burning desire to subscribe to a top-down, enterprise data warehouse identity, neither their business priorities nor characteristics will support this approach. Still others eschew this approach and charge down an incremental data mart path, oblivious to the inherent challenges and prerequisites therein. Before you begin your data warehousing journey, it is imperative that you answer the question: "Who are you?" This can only be accomplished by understanding the options and your organizational identity. This month's column will address the options, and next month's column will discuss assessing the strategy and evaluating your organization.

There are two basic strategies in use today, the "top-down" and "bottom-up" approaches. The "top-down" approach mandates the construction of an enterprise data warehouse first and then the distribution of subset data marts from that parent data warehouse. The "bottom-up" approach uses a series of incremental, architected data marts to build up toward the goal of the enterprise data warehouse.

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