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Last Updated: May 6, 2024
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Characteristics of Data Warehouse

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Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

Data Warehouse is a relational database or columnar database housed on a computer system in an on-premises data center or, increasingly, the cloud.

In this article, we will discuss the characteristics of data warehouse. We will discuss each and every characteristic of it. So, data warehousing is a process that not only aggregates data from disparate sources but also transforms it into actionable insights that drive better decision-making. Before moving on to the main topic, let us understand more about data warehousing.

characteristics of data warehouse

What is a Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is nothing but a big storage room where all the important information can be kept. This information comes from different places (databases and spreadsheets) within the organization. This organization of the information makes it easy for people to access and use it for decision-making.

Information is stored in a sequential manner in the data warehouse. This sequential manner makes it easy to search and analyze the data. This helps people to find patterns and trends using that information.

Data warehousing includes several processes, including extraction, transformation, loading, and modeling. We use ETL (extract, transform, load) tools to automate and streamline these processes.

Let us understand what the characteristics of data warehouse are.

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Data Warehouse Characteristics

The features that define a data warehouse, referred to as its four characteristics, are: SUBJECT ORIENTED, TIME VARIANT, INTEGRATED, and NON-VOLATILE. The characteristics of a data warehouse are referred to as unique features and properties. Because of these characteristics, it is different from the other types of data management systems(MySQL, MariaDB, etc.). These characteristics make a data warehouse so powerful and valuable for organizations.

The main characteristics of data warehousing are:

Characteristics of Data Warehouse

Subject-Oriented

A data warehouse is organized around specific subjects or areas of interest. These subjects or areas of interest can be sales, customers, or products. This subject orientation allows data to be organized. It also allows data to be analyzed in a relevant way for business users.

Integrated

A data warehouse integrates data from various sources. These sources may involve a cloud, relational databases, structured and semi-structured data, etc. The sources are integrated in a sequential manner. They are consistent, relatable, and ideally certifiable. They provide a business with confidence in the data’s quality.

Time-Variant

An organization keeps historical data over time in a data warehouse. This makes it possible to spot patterns and trends. Based on what has previously occurred, it helps to make better decisions. Organizations can spot trends and make better decisions for the future by examining patterns throughout time.

Non-Volatile

A data warehouse is non-volatile. It means that once data is loaded into the warehouse, it cannot be modified or deleted. This helps to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the data. It maintains a historical record of changes over time.

Optimized for Querying and Analysis

People can quickly and precisely analyze data with the help of a data warehouse. It is designed to make discovering and analyzing information easy. This is accomplished via strategies such as indexing, partitioning, and aggregation. These strategies allow the data warehouse to quickly search through massive amounts of data. They provide you with the required information.

Designed for Decision Support

A data warehouse is designed to help decision-making(reporting, analysis, and data mining). It provides a centralized and consistent view of the data. It makes data easier to identify trends, patterns, and anomalies in the data.

Functions of Data Warehouse

Data Integration

Data warehouses consolidate data from various sources such as operational databases, spreadsheets, and external systems. They integrate heterogeneous data formats and structures into a unified repository for analysis.

Data Cleaning and Transformation

Data warehouses perform data cleaning and transformation to ensure data quality and consistency. This includes removing duplicates, correcting errors, standardizing formats, and transforming data to a common schema.

Data Storage

Data warehouses provide a centralized storage infrastructure optimized for analytical processing. They efficiently store large volumes of historical data, facilitating complex queries and analysis over time.

Data Organization

Data warehouses organize data into subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant, and non-volatile structures. This allows for easy access and analysis of data based on specific business subjects or dimensions.

Data Aggregation

Data warehouses aggregate and summarize data to provide meaningful insights at different levels of granularity. Aggregation functions like sum, average, count, and min/max are commonly used to derive key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics.

Decision Support

Data warehouses support decision-making processes by providing timely and relevant information to stakeholders. They enable ad-hoc querying, reporting, and data visualization to support strategic, tactical, and operational decisions.

Data Analysis and Mining

Data warehouses facilitate data analysis and mining techniques to discover patterns, trends, and relationships in the data. This includes exploratory analysis, statistical analysis, machine learning, and predictive modeling.

Business Intelligence

Data warehouses serve as the foundation for business intelligence (BI) systems. They enable the creation of executive dashboards, reports, and scorecards to monitor business performance and track key metrics.

Performance Optimization

Data warehouses optimize query performance and data retrieval through indexing, partitioning, and optimization techniques. This ensures efficient processing of analytical queries and timely delivery of insights.

Scalability and Flexibility

Data warehouses are designed to scale horizontally or vertically to accommodate growing data volumes and user concurrency. They provide flexibility to adapt to changing business requirements and analytical needs over time.

Key Components of a Data Warehouse

The fundamental elements of a typical data warehouse comprise: a central database, ETL (extract, transform, load) tools, metadata, and access tools.

  1. Central Database: It is a single or unified block that is used to store and manage the data from various sources in an organization.
     
  2. Data Integration: It is a process where the processing and harmonizing of data are done from different sources with several formats and semantics where the tools are involved, which are known as ETL tools (Extract, Transform, Load).
     
  3. Metadata: It is the data about the data which basically provides the information about the data stored in the warehouse.
     
  4. Data Warehouse access tools: These are the access tools that can be used for users to interact with the data stored in the warehouse with the help of software applications.

Benefits of Data Warehouse

Data warehousing provides organizations with many benefits mentioned below:

  • Data Warehouse helps them to improve data quality and provides consistency.
     
  • Data Warehouse makes faster and more accurate reporting and analysis for them.
     
  • Data Warehouse helps to make better decision-making based on reliable data for them.
     
  • Data Warehouse helps them to enhance their ability to detect trends, patterns, and anomalies.
     
  • Data Warehouse is very much helpful for them to increase efficiency and productivity through automation and self-service access to data.
     

Also read anomalies in database

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the characteristics of data warehouse?

A data warehouse is characterized by being subject-oriented, integrated, non-volatile, and time-variant. It consolidates data from various sources to support analytical processing and decision-making, providing a unified view of historical and current data.

What are the 4 components of a data warehouse?

The four components of a data warehouse are data sources, data integration tools, the data warehouse database, and access tools for querying and analysis. These components work together to extract, transform, load, and enable user access to data.

What is not a key characteristic of a data warehouse?

Real-time processing is not a key characteristic of a data warehouse. While data warehouses provide historical and current data for analysis, they are optimized for analytical processing rather than real-time transaction processing.

What are the characteristics of data mart?

Data marts are subsets of data warehouses tailored to specific business areas or user groups. They contain subject-oriented, summarized data optimized for the needs of a particular audience, providing a focused view of relevant information.

What is a characteristic of an active data warehouse?

An active data warehouse supports near-real-time data integration and analysis, enabling organizations to make decisions based on up-to-date information and respond promptly to changing business conditions.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the characteristics of the data warehouse. Understanding the characteristics of a data warehouse is essential for leveraging its capabilities effectively. A data warehouse's subject-oriented, integrated, non-volatile, and time-variant nature enables it to consolidate and analyze data from diverse sources for informed decision-making. 

You can check out our other blogs to enhance your knowledge:

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Topics covered
1.
Introduction
2.
What is a Data Warehouse?
3.
Data Warehouse Characteristics
3.1.
Subject-Oriented
3.2.
Integrated
3.3.
Time-Variant
3.4.
Non-Volatile
3.5.
Optimized for Querying and Analysis
3.6.
Designed for Decision Support
4.
Functions of Data Warehouse
4.1.
Data Integration
4.2.
Data Cleaning and Transformation
4.3.
Data Storage
4.4.
Data Organization
4.5.
Data Aggregation
4.6.
Decision Support
4.7.
Data Analysis and Mining
4.8.
Business Intelligence
4.9.
Performance Optimization
4.10.
Scalability and Flexibility
5.
Key Components of a Data Warehouse
6.
Benefits of Data Warehouse
7.
Frequently Asked Questions
7.1.
What are the characteristics of data warehouse?
7.2.
What are the 4 components of a data warehouse?
7.3.
What is not a key characteristic of a data warehouse?
7.4.
What are the characteristics of data mart?
7.5.
What is a characteristic of an active data warehouse?
8.
Conclusion