By Stephen Putman, Senior Consultant
I recently read Rob Gonzalez' blog post I've Got a Federated Bridge to Sell You (A Defense of the Warehouse) with great interest - a Semantic Web professional who is defending a technology that could be displaced by semantics! I agree with Mr. Gonzalez that semantically federated databases are not the answer in all business cases. However, traditional data warehouses and data marts are not the best answer in all cases either, and there are also cases where neither technology is the appropriate solution.
The appropriate technological solution for a given business case depends on a great many factors, which I like to call "Three-Dimensional Chess."
An organization needs to consider many factors in choosing the right technology to solve an analytical requirement, including:
- Efficiency/speed of query return - Is the right data stored or accessed in an efficient manner, and can it be accessed quickly and accurately?
- Currency of data - How current is the data that is available?
- Flexibility of model - Can the system accept new data inputs of differing structures with a minimum of remodeling and recoding?
- Implementation cost, including maintenance - How much does it cost to implement and maintain the system?
- Ease of use by end users - Can the data be accessed and manipulated by end users in familiar tools without damage to the underlying data set?
- Relative fit to industry and organizational standards - This deals with long-term maintainability of the system, which I addressed in a recent posting â€“ Making It Fit.
- Current staff skillsets/scarcity of resources to implement and maintain - Can your staff implement and maintain the system, or alternately, can you find the necessary resources in the market to do so at a reasonable cost?
Fortunately, new tools and methodologies are constantly being developed that can optimize one or more of these factors, but balancing all of these sometimes mutually exclusive factors is a very difficult job. There are very few system architects who are well versed in many of the applicable systems, so architects tend to advocate the types of systems they are familiar with, bending requirements to fit the characteristics of the system. This causes the undesirable tendency that is represented in the saying, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
Make sure that your organization is taking all factors into account when deciding how to solve an analytical requirement by developing or attracting people who are skilled at playing ”three-dimensional chess.”
Stephen Putman has over 20 years experience supporting client/server and internet-based operations from small offices to major corporations. He has extensive experience in a variety of front-end development tools, as well as relational database design and administration, and is extremely effective in project management and leadership roles. He is the co-author of The Data Governance eBook, available at baseline-consulting.com/ebooks.
Posted February 16, 2011 6:00 AM
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