Colin White reopened the question of whether enterprise data warehouses (EDW) are still needed, lining up and knocking down a number of traditional pro-EDW arguments, in more detail than I ever have. So this feels like a good time to revisit my answer to the question of the EDW’s role, whose money quote was:
At conventional enterprises … Manage some of your data to enterprise data warehouse standards, but not all of it. Specifically, your highest-value data should be in something that looks like a classic enterprise data warehouse, and your lower-value data shouldn’t.
For sufficiently small enterprises, the “something that looks like a classic enterprise data warehouse” might just be your One Central Database, combining OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) and analytics. Otherwise, the chances are high that you’re going to want to copy your data crown jewels to an EDW, even if they’re also being used as analytic inputs directly from the OLTP systems that first capture them.
As I’ve recently reviewed, there are huge amounts of specialized technology for SQL queries and other analytics. Classical EDW vendors may not be the best or lowest-cost providers of such technology. And even when the EDW is technically competitive, the bureaucratic processes around it can impede rapid adoption of important analytic tools. So Colin is directionally right, in that most large enterprises should be taking the EDW concept less seriously than they currently do. But core EDW technology and business attitudes shouldn’t be entirely discarded either.