ata warehouses work by extracting information from multiple databases working on many types of computer platforms. They can be built by in-house staff or systems integrators such as I-Net and Sylvest. Here are the major components involved:
- Extract Tools. These can be anything from programming languages, like COBOL or Natural, to automated tools that create new images of the data, such as Carlton's Passport. "Scrubbing" is generally performed during the extraction phase.
- Data Transfer Tools. Products such as Software AG's SourcePoint help users move data into warehouses.
- Database Management Software. Programs from companies such as Informix, Oracle and Sybase offer strong query capabilities and large storage capacity. Relational databases are best for simple, two-dimensional queries, while on-line analytical processing databases are better for multidimensional tasks, such as forecasting and trend analysis.
- Application Software. Tools such as Patrol from BMC Software help manage and optimize multiple databases.
- Servers. Powerful, enterprise-wide computers, such as Digital Equipment Corp.'s TurboLaser 8000, process and distribute data.
- Query Tools. These software programs enable users to ask questions and essentially "mine" the data. Some perform two-or three-dimensional queries while others use deductive reasoning to determine relationships between data.
- Delivery Systems. Products such as Digital's TeamLinks, Lotus Notes or Netscape's Web browser help route query results back to end-users via e-mail, local-area networks or the Internet.