Data warehouse can simply be defined electronic storage of information by a business. The information stored is usually vital for the operation of the business and too large to be stored on paper. Barry Davlin and Paul Murphy coined the term in 1988 while they were working for IBM as researchers. As the computers and information that needed to be stored became more complex, data warehouses evolved which are generally capable of handling large amounts of data.
Data and Information
In order to understand the concept of data warehouse, it is essential to differentiate between data and information. Data consists of observable and recordable facts, retrieved from operational and transactional end of a business or an organization. Information, on the other hand, is a collection of facts that is organized and integrated with to form a collection of facts. Information can be used for the decision making process, since it has a meaning, which raw data does not.
Data warehouses are non-volatile, which means that once the data has been entered into the system, it cannot be changed or removed, since its analysis is based on historic data, changing it would give biased results. Data warehouses are time variant in nature, since they require the storage of historic data into archives. It focuses on changes overtime, which is why historic data is essential.
A data warehouse lets the users develop relationship between various groups of information that has been accumulated in the data warehouse. It is primarily designed that the users can benefit from its unique features of query and analysis, which is close to impossible if done manually since the amount of data is very large. Data warehouse usually contains historic data, and data from other sources which is integrated to derive a meaning. Data warehouse has the capacity to draw a distinction between analysis workload and transaction workload, hence enabling an organization to consolidate data and information from multiple sources in an organized manner.
Along with data integration and easy accessibility, data warehouse also offers extraction, transportation, transformation, and loading solution. These tools could help businesses with the decision making process and provide a streamlined procedure to increase efficiency in the business environment. Moreover, an online analytical process engines capable of handling large of data and providing a meaningful summary of the data is highly beneficial for all the stakeholders involved. In the addition to the above mentioned tools, data warehouse is the ability to gather data and deliver to business users without any delays, hence adding to the overall operational efficiency of a business.