Internet Opens Doors to Data Warehouses

Internet technology is so pervasive these days that's it's drilling down into nearly every sector of the information technology industry -- including the deep dark recesses of data warehouses.

While the technology associated with a Net warehouse may not be new, it does open up more possibilities for data warehousing, says Mark Moorman, programme manager for business intelligence at SAS Institute.

The Internet provides a means of extending the data warehouse to virtually include data, or provide access to data, that does not really belong to the corporation, he says.

For example, corporate data would be available from the warehouse, while access to information about distributors, suppliers or competitors the warehouse would be accessed via the World Wide Web, Moorman says.

"When you want to share data warehouse information with a supplier, normally you have to build some kind of network between the two companies or send it via electronic data interchange (EDI)," says Lora O'Haver, data warehousing program manager at Hewlett-Packard.

"The Internet allows you not to have to use [EDI] or build a separate network," O'Haver says. By leveraging the existing infrastructure, she says, combining data warehouses and Internet technology is a sort of poor man's EDI. "The cost of it, relative to anything else you could do, is small."

Moorman says that both security and access can be obtained by centralising the data.

From a management perspective, centralised data simplifies some of the problems associated with the distributed model, and allows the warehouse to grow through a managed evolution. In addition, using a Web server with a data warehouse eliminates some of the difficulties, such as compatibility issues, that are often associated with system architectures, he says.

Moorman says the first area to approach with Internet technology is the intranet -- a private network that makes use of Internet technology. Having a localized network means the security issues of imposed by the Internet are eliminated, Moorman says.

Other issues related to setting up a data warehouse on an intranet revolve mainly around organisation, Moorman says. "The companies that will be the most successful will be those with a successful warehouse and with successful Web skills.

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