We are living in a data-driven world because from individuals to businesses; every entity keeps generating data with every move. Therefore, it is very natural that all of us make use of databases in some way or the other because these are the building blocks of data solution. The database is the place for data to reside in almost all applications. Applications use an online transaction processing database or OLTP. However, to make use of data for developing solutions, it is not just enough to store data properly from any source or application. The most important use of data is in analyzing it well to gain insights about what lies underneath and how to derive more value from it. Unfortunately, the OLTP databases are not suitable for running analysis across substantial data sets comprising of multiple data sources.

As the rate of data accumulation keeps growing very fast and, large data volumes keep pouring in from multiple sources, it requires transforming data and analyzing it by storing data from various disparate sources and across several OLTP databases. The entire activity can become very cumbersome and unmanageable because performing data analysis of each data source is inefficient and costly. This points to the fact that you will need a better place to store data from multiple disparate sources so that it is possible to run analytics on all your data sources and streams simultaneously from the single repository. You need to practice enterprise data management so that everyone can store, access, manage, and analyze data or information to excel in their jobs.  

Data Warehouse

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To handle a large volume of data from multiple sources by allowing access to various users at the same time, you must move away from using a single database and instead use a data warehouse, which is a conglomeration of several databases.  The data warehouse consists of a group of databases specially designed to store, retrieve, filter, and analyze huge data volume. Data Warehouses are larger editions of OLAP databases specifically designed for analysis.

To handle big data, it becomes imperative to put all data from various databases and streams into one large repository like a data warehouse. This gives the opportunity of visualization and analysis of data by several users simultaneously than doing it on a piece-meal basis in small chunks several times without being able to reconcile or merge the results.  When it comes to data aggregation from multiple data sources that need better support for visualization, reporting, and analysis, a data warehouse is an answer. 

Business-oriented use

The efficient handling of big data is a business requirement, and, naturally, data warehouses have a business-oriented goal to facilitate decision making by allowing users at different levels to consolidate and analyze information. Data warehouses are useful when any query requires mulling data from sources beyond the database.  For example, to decide the number of new recruits for the next year based on the departmental requirements, it would require accessing data from several sources like employees, salaries, sales forecasts, products, etc. A data warehouse allows accessing all information from a single place instead of searching for it if different databases.

For proper maintenance of data warehouses, you must hire the services of a database administrator from RemoteDBA to ensure that the system performs at its peak always.  

Differences between data warehouse and database

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Databases and data warehouses have some close resemblance in its broad functionality, but on a closer look at the specifics, several differences become visible.

The manner of data processing – Databases use a data processing system named online transaction processing or OLTP for data accumulated by businesses on a day to day basis. The design of OLTP enables database users to speedy access to updated information and queries quite accurately. On the other hand, data warehouses use an online analytical processing system for data, or OLAP focuses on data accessibility, data analysis, and decision making. Many OLAP systems are connected to the business intelligence of BI to make it easy for non-technical executives to get answers to their questions. 

The number of users–The number of database users is much higher than data warehouse users because of the design of the OLTP. The system performs efficiently, even when several users access it simultaneously.  However, OLPA users are fewer in the number who can use the system concurrently because data warehouse solution works with more complex queries across many data stores, which calls for the deployment of more resources and hence not scalable as an enterprise-class database. 

Use cases – Databases are different from data warehouses in terms of the use cases. Databases focus on the day to day data transactions that are necessary for organizations to run the daily show. Examples are like the hospital register that enters the patient details during admission, a bank transferring money between two accounts, or someone buying tickets online from a website.

Data warehouses deal with data that can provide an answer to larger aspects about the past, present, and future of organizations that require a higher level of analysis. Users can engage in extensive data mining across several databases to unearth hidden information that lends valuable insights for driving the organization ahead. 

Optimization – OLTP databases operate at lightning speed due to its nature of optimization for creating, reading, updating, and deleting data. But the speed can suffer when handling complicated analytical queries. OLAP data warehouses are optimized in a way for handling fewer but more complex queries across multiple data stores.  

Structure – OLTP databases have efficient structures to achieve the goal of rapid queries by eliminating duplicate information on the tables so that it saves disk space and accelerates the process during any transaction.  For OLAP data warehouses, redundant information is not of any concern because the speed of attending to a query does not matter. The focus of data warehouses is on read operations rather than write operations. 

Reporting and analysis – OLTP databases are not suitable for reporting and analysis because it does not support historical queries. For OLAP data warehouse, reporting and analysis are the focal points.

Businesses that handle big data must decide between database and data warehouse, depending on the business philosophy and the needs.

Daniel John

Android biggest fan and a Tech Nerd

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