Increasing storage requirements have been the story of the decade so far, as enterprises large and small find themselves scrambling to keep on top of their data for legal and competitive reasons. But now that the storage infrastructures are largely in place, the next step is instituting an architecture robust enough to ensure that data is both available and useful.
The most frequent term being bandied about is data warehousing, although there is some discrepancy as to what exactly constitutes an effective warehousing scheme. Take HP and IBM, for instance. Both firms recently launched competing warehousing platforms aimed at large enterprises. But while HP's NeoView uses a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture called NonStop to deliver fault-tolerance and scalability for improved capacity planning, IBM's Dynamic Data Warehousing rejects batch-driven processes in favor of real-time operations that offer insight into up-to-the-minute business conditions, rather than analyses of previous months' sales, for example.
No one doubts, however, that data warehousing will be a crucial component for the enterprise going forward. Those who have implemented the latest versions of CRM, BI, ERP and other applications are quickly finding out that their effectiveness is tempered depending on how many legacy storage systems are in play. A warehouse platform equipped with such tools as enterprise information integration (EII), extraction, transformation and load (ETL) and operational data stores (ODS) is one of the most effective means to bridging these data silos.
One firm that has seen the warehousing light is Overstock.com. This case study shows how the online sales firm was able to tie its numerous e-mail, marketing and customer data efforts into a more cohesive whole through improved modeling and more effective use of customer behavioral patterns.
The initial investment in a warehousing architecture may seem a little daunting, but in the long run, a more effective data management regime will be one of your strongest competitive advantages.