DATA WAREHOUSE Questions and Answers

What is a real-time data warehouse? How is it different from near to real-time data warehouse?


As the term suggests, a real-time data warehouse is a system, which reflects all changes to its sources in real time. As simple as it sounds, this is still an area of active research in the field. In traditional DWH, the operational system(s) are kept separate from the DWH for a good reason. The Operational systems are designed to accept inputs or changes to data regularly, hence have a good chance of being regularly queried. On the other hand, a DWH is supposed to do just the opposite – it is


used to query data for reports only. No changes to data, through user actions is expected (or designed). The only inputs could come from the ETL feed at stipulated times. The ETL would source its data from the Operational systems just explained above.


To create a real-time DWH we would have to merge both systems (several ways are being explored), a concept that is against the reason of creating a DWH. Bigger challenges occur in terms of updating aggregated data in facts at real time, still maintaining the surrogate keys. Besides, we would need lightening fast hardware to try this.Near Real time DWH is a trade-off between the conventional design and the dream of all clients today. The frequency of ETL updates in higher in this case for


e.g. once in 2 hours. We can also analyze and use selective refreshes at shorter time intervals, while complete refreshes may still be kept further apart. Selective refreshes would look at only those tables that get updated regularly.