A data warehouse is a repository of an organization's electronically stored data,designed to facilitate reporting and analysis.It is
The data in the data warehouse is organized so that allthe data elements relating to the same real-world event or object are linked together.
Data in the data warehouse is never over-written or deleted —once committed, the data is static, read-only, and retained forfuture reporting.
The data warehouse contains data from most or all of anorganization’s operational systems and this data are madeconsistent.
There are two leading approaches to storing data in a data warehouse —
thedimensional approach and the normalized approach.
In a dimensional approach, transaction data are partitioned into either "facts",which are generally numeric transaction data, or "dimensions", which are thereference information that gives context to the facts. For example, a salestransaction can be broken up into facts such as the number of products ordered andthe price paid for the products, and into dimensions such as order date, customername, product number, order ship-to and bill-to locations, and salespersonresponsible for receiving the order. A key advantage of a dimensional approach isthat the data warehouse is easier for the user to understand and to use.In the normalized approach, the data in the data warehouse are stored following, toa degree, database normalization rules. Tables are grouped together by subjectareas that reflect general data categories (e.g., data on customers, products,finance, etc.). The main advantage of this approach is that it is straightforward toadd information into the database. A disadvantage of this approach is that, becauseof the number of tables involved, it can be difficult for users both to:
Join data from different sources into meaningful information and then
Access the information without a precise understanding of the sources of data and of the data structure of the data warehouse.
In the so-called bottom-up approach data marts are first created to providereporting and analytical capabilities for specific business processes. These datamarts can eventually be integrated to create a comprehensive data warehouse.