Monday, September 25, 2017

Dimensional Models: Now More Than Ever

Do new technologies and methods render the dimensional model obsolete?

The top question from readers of this blog continues to be: "Is the dimensional model still relevant?"

It is easy to understand why people ask this question:

  • Our BI programs have expanded beyond data warehousing to include performance management, analytics, and governance functions. 
  • Methods have evolved and streamlined, thanks to the application of agile principles. 
  • Technologies have advanced to include NoSQL solutions, schema-less paradigms, and virtualization options. 

In a recent article for TDWI’s Upside, I discuss these changes to our data management processes, and their impacts on the dimensional model.

The conclusion: these pressures actually increase the importance of the dimensional model.

Here are a few points made in the article:
  • Although NoSQL technologies are contributing to the evolution of data management platforms, they are not rendering relational storage extinct. It is still necessary to track key business metrics over time, and on this front relational storage reigns. In part, this explains why several big data initiatives seek to support relational processing on top of platforms such as Hadoop. Nonrelational technology is evolving to support relational; the future still contains stars.
  • [A dimensional view of data] grows in importance as the underlying storage of data assets grows in complexity. The dimensional model is the business's entry point into the sprawling repositories of available data and the focal point that makes sense of it all.
  • The dimensional model of a business process provides a representation of information needs that simultaneously drives the traditional facts and dimensions of a data mart, the key performance indicators of performance dashboards, the variables of analytics models, and the reference data managed by governance and MDM. In this light, the dimensional model becomes the nexus of a holistic approach managing BI, analytics, and governance programs.

As we move to treat information as a business asset, the dimensional model has become a critical success factor. Yet many organizations are spread so thin that this critical skill is often missing. Be sure that doesn’t apply to your business!

For the full discussion, check out the article:  Dimensional Models in the Big Data Era. (Chris Adamson, April 12, 2017, TDWI’s Upside.)

Learn More

Join Chris for three days of dimension modeling education in New York next month!
  • TDWI New York Seminar, October 23-25.  Earn a certificate and 24 CPE credits.  Check out the sidebar of this blog for additional dates.  You can also bring my courses on site.
Read the full article on Upside:
Read Chris's book: