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Dan Linstedt

Bill Inmon has given me this wonderful opportunity to blog on his behalf. I like to cover everything from DW2.0 to integration to data modeling, including ETL/ELT, SOA, Master Data Management, Unstructured Data, DW and BI. Currently I am working on ways to create dynamic data warehouses, push-button architectures, and automated generation of common data models. You can find me at Denver University where I participate on an academic advisory board for Masters Students in I.T. I can't wait to hear from you in the comments of my blog entries. Thank-you, and all the best; Dan Linstedt,

About the author >

Cofounder of Genesee Academy, RapidACE, and, Daniel Linstedt is an internationally known expert in data warehousing, business intelligence, analytics, very large data warehousing (VLDW), OLTP and performance and tuning. He has been the lead technical architect on enterprise-wide data warehouse projects and refinements for many Fortune 500 companies. Linstedt is an instructor of The Data Warehousing Institute and a featured speaker at industry events. He is a Certified DW2.0 Architect. He has worked with companies including: IBM, Informatica, Ipedo, X-Aware, Netezza, Microsoft, Oracle, Silver Creek Systems, and Teradata.  He is trained in SEI / CMMi Level 5, and is the inventor of The Matrix Methodology, and the Data Vault Data modeling architecture. He has built expert training courses, and trained hundreds of industry professionals, and is the voice of Bill Inmons' Blog on

When Claudia Imhoff and Shawn Rogers and I got together for lunch the other day, we discussed this notion of SoR - it's a very interesting take. SoR has long been held as a single definition, and has been defined as residing in the source systems. Today, there are multiple definitions (3 to be exact) of SoR. Particularly since MDM evokes new notions of what SoR means to the business, as does a compliant and auditable enterprise warehouse. In this entry I'll walk through the multiple definitions of SoR. In my MDM night course in August at TDWI (2006, San Diego) I'll be discussing many of these things.

Let's start with the three types of definitions: The first definition is the widely accepted definition, based on the origination point of data (source systems). The second definition is not so well known, but for those of you with a normalized and AUDITABLE enterprise warehouse, you'll be happy to see the second definition. The third definition is based on the ever-present "single view of today's enterprise". Many people and vendors call this: "Single Version of the Truth", but truth is subjective to EACH individual user, so there's no possible way (in the purist sense) that truth actually exists!!

SoR Definition 1: The data that exists in the source system, in other words, where the data is entered, or originates for the first time. It contains a record of entry or creation or origination for the information it houses. Hopefully this system is auditable, and compliant. The data might not be "clean, quality checked, or integrated" unless it sits in some sort of master list (master data set). Most of this data is shipped across the enterprise to other systems, and to an enterprise data warehouse for integration.

SoR Definition 2: This data resides in a NORMALIZED enterprise data warehouse, and is auditable and compliant. This data is RAW Data that is INTEGRATED by business keys (See Data Vault Data Modeling). This data is NOT cleansed, altered, modified, or quality checked - but is auditable, meaning that an auditor can trace the data back to the source system from whence it came. The integration point is in fact the master-key (business key) that horizontally integrates data across the enterprise. Duplicates reside within this data set, dirty data resides within this data set, the data that resides in the normalized warehouse is captured by type of data and rate of change, and is the only place in the entire enterprise where this integrated version of uncleansed raw data exists. This data is often used by business to FIND broken business processes. If you don't have source system raw data in an integrated fashion, it will be harder to spot the trends, and the broken business processes will continue to go un-noticed. I've seen save companies millions of dollars. This is a RAW system of record, it is the only place in the enterprise where this integrated raw version exists.

SoR definition 3: Master Data, or Conformed Dimensions - data that has been cleansed, quality checked, duplicates removed - and is seen and used by the business as "single version of today's truth", it is covered by master metadata, and is understood by the organization to have meaning. In the master data set there is only a SINGLE copy of each (customer / part / work order / supplier etc..) item. This is an SoR by business standards because it represents value to the business in eliminating duplicates and understanding how the business looks "TODAY". It's a snapshot of the current consistent, and quality cleansed information that feeds the rest of the source systems.

So, as you can see - there is value to each type of System-of-Record. So what then is exactly, a system of record itself?

I would tend to suggest that a System of record has the following characteristics:
1. It's a data origination point (the only place in the enterprise where this "vision" of data exists).
2. It begins to feed other systems, providing automatic feedback to source systems, and becomming a part of the operational LOOP in business decision making.
3. In some cases it's auditable and traceable, in other cases it's quality cleansed - but in all cases it provides business value in different formats and assists the business in DOING business on a daily basis.

If you have questions or comments I'd love to hear them, please post them below.

Daniel Linstedt
CTO Myers-holum, Inc

Posted April 15, 2006 7:12 AM
Permalink | 3 Comments |


Isn't SoR also where the record can be freely changed without regard to other systems? This concept establishes the Master and Slave relationships.

I would suggest distinguishing between SOR and SOE (system of entry) as you from an MDM focused architectural point of view will have different characteristics to the two components. Hence in the SOR you store and control master data in an audible master data repository with conform definitions. In the SOE (you create, update etc. the master data attributes - including real-time cleansing, workflow support and data entry validation. By this separation you increase your architectural latitude. I agree that in most cases the SOR and SOE will be roles applied to the same system, but in large ecosystems with many systems and complex depending business processes you often is forced to anticipate this approach to support the business process flow.

Michael Voelund

If possible can you please explain with more real time examples of SoR, SoE and MDM. This would be more beneficial for me to understand.

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