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Ronald Damhof

I have been a BI/DW practitioner for more than 15 years. In the last few years, I have become increasingly annoyed - even frustrated - by the lack of (scientific) rigor in the field of data warehousing and business intelligence. It is not uncommon for the knowledge worker to be disillusioned by the promise of business intelligence and data warehousing because vendors and consulting organizations create their "own" frameworks, definitions, super-duper tools etc.

What the field needs is more connectedness (grounding and objectivity) to the scientific community. The scientific community needs to realize the importance of increasing their level of relevance to the practice of technology.

For the next few years, I have decided to attempt to build a solid bridge between science and technology practitioners. As a dissertation student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, I hope to discover ways to accomplish this. With this blog I hope to share some of the things I learn in my search and begin discussions on this topic within the international community.

Your feedback is important to me. Please let me know what you think. My email address is

About the author >

Ronald Damhof is an information management practitioner with more than 15 years of international experience in the field.

His areas of focus include:

  1. Data management, including data quality, data governance and data warehousing;
  2. Enterprise architectural principles;
  3. Exploiting data to its maximum potential for decision support.
Ronald is an Information Quality Certified Professional (International Association for Information and Data Quality one of the first 20 to pass this prestigious exam), Certified Data Vault Grandmaster (only person in the world to have this level of certification), and a Certified Scrum Master. He is a strong advocate of agile and lean principles and practices (e.g., Scrum). You can reach him at +31 6 269 671 84, through his website at or via email at

It is only by means of good and respectfull discussion that  knowledge and insight will evolve. This post should be regarded as such. Furthermore, it is from a good friend from whom I understood that Rick meant to be controversial with these papers.....

This post is a first reaction to the first article in a series of three which were written by a highly respectfull thoughtleader in the field and publisher on the B-Eye-Network; Rick van der Lans. The papers are titled 'The Flaws of the Classic Data Warehouse Architecture'.

This blog post is a reaction to the first part. It deals with the flaws of the classic data warehouse architecture (CDWA) according to Rick. If you wanna know what exactly constitutes a CDWA - I would suggest to read this first part.

Rick signals five flaws which will lead in article two and three to a new architecture. This post is addressing the first flaw. In upcoming postings on this blog I will also adress the other four and I will also respond to the solution he is proposing.

Flaw 1 according to Rick
The CDWA does not support the concept of Operational Business Intelligence. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that the CDWA can not include 100% up-to-date information. Rick concludes that we have to remove storage layers and minimize the copy steps.

My reaction to flaw 1
A metaphor; I am driving my car and suddenly I say 'damn; I wanna fly'. Looking at my car, I can not seem to find the 'fly' button and I therefore conclude that my car  is flawed.

Although a bit of a corny metaphor it reflects the core of my criticism. Aparently there is a new requirement called Operational Business Intelligence* that can not be served by the existing architecture. Is the existing architecture then flawed? I do not think so. Does the existing architecture fit the needs of the organisation? I do not think so. So flaw 1 in my opinion is not a flaw, it might simply be not a good fit between requirement and architecture.

Let's take this corny metaphor one step further. Suppose there is a genuine need for me to fly (e.g 100% up-to-date information for decision-like processes*). Is it then considered common sense to build wings on my car and put in a jet engine? I wouldn't ......I would just buy a plane ticket and get to an airfield or maybe I would use a substitute to achieve my objectives....the train.

To conclude; requirements are evolving and architecture needs to follow. The data warehouse architecture depicted as a hub-spoke model is still valid for it's intented use (although the design is evolving). New requirements can lead to new choices in architecture (and subsequently in design). 

Although I do not agree on the flaw issue, I do agree that new requirements can require new architecture which - in the end - is exactly what Rick is proposing (although I do not agree completely on this new architecture - but lets keep that in mind for a next posting). 

* as you can see I am eluding the tedious discussion regarding the term Operational Business Intelligence. I am also eluding the so-called 'fact' that organizations all need 100% up-to-date information for decision like processes.

Posted June 10, 2009 1:20 PM
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