I was browsing through the blogs on B-eye-network.com this morning (Sunday - yeah, sad, I know) and came across two recent entries that spoiled my coffee. Given that I'm no fan of instant gratification (in IT anyway), I'm not going to give you links, so you have to work at finding them yourself. But the phrases that caught my eye were "Instant SOA", "Data marts in about an Hour" and "full EDW's with AS-IS star schemas in 2 weeks".
Now I'm as fond of a shortcut as the next guy, but I've learned the the word "Instant" is not all goodness. When I've bought some instant Spaghetti Bolognese in the local supermarket I've found that the cost is a lot higher than the individual ingredients and the taste, well, leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, I saved some time when I got home, but did I get value for money? And did I end up with what I really wanted? So, why should I expect more from an Instant DW?
"Caveat emptor" as the Romans used to say. Here are a few contra-indications for when instant gratification should not be expected in your next BI (or SOA) project:
- The business users are not quite sure what they want.
- Somebody forgot to document the meanings of the data in the source applications.
- Garbage in, garbage out. Or worse...
Most BI projects start with a vague set of requirements from the potential users. It's going to take some time to hone these down to a usable definition of data and query needs. In the meantime, maybe it's best to let the users continue to play with their instant Excel spreadsheets and look over their shoulders to see what they're doing.
This is the oldest metadata problem. If your data sources have not been properly described, an Instant DW is likely to be instantly dismissed as misleading and inaccurate. Do you want to go there?
If your ingredients (data sources) are contaminated with erroneous data, you're going to end up with a very sick business on your hands if you just take the Instant DW approach. Understanding and fixing dirty data is time-consuming, but mandatory.
It's all about quality time... or quality vs. time. If I bring home my instant Spaghetti Bolognese, I may get it on the table within a few minutes. But, if the kids won't eat it or, worse, throw up that night, I'd argue I've made the wrong trade-off between time and quality. You need to consider the same balance in a BI or SOA project.
Now, I'm off to spend some quality time with my kids :-)
Posted August 24, 2008 12:20 PM
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