Building the Data Warehouse

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Meta Data in the Data
Warehouse Environment_

The role of meta data in the data warehouse environment is very different from the role of meta data in the operational environment. In the operational environment, meta data is treated almost as an afterthought and is relegated to the same level of importance as documentation. Meta data in the data warehouse environment takes on a very enhanced role. The importance of its role in the data warehouse environment is illustrated in Figure 5.9. Two different communities are served by operational meta data and data warehouse meta data. Operational meta data is used by the IT professional. For years, the IT professional has used meta data casually. The IT professional is computer-literate and is able to find his or her way around systems. The data warehouse, though, serves the DSS analyst community, and the DSS analyst is usually a professional, first and foremost. There usually is not a high degree of computer literacy in the DSS analyst community. The DSS analyst needs as much help as possible to use the data warehouse environment effectively, and meta data serves this end quite well. In addition, meta data is the first thing the DSS analyst looks at in planning how to perform informational/analytical processing. Because of the difference in the communities served and because of the role that meta data plays in the day-to-day job function, meta data is much more important in the data warehouse environment than it ever was in the operational environment.

data warehouse

Figure 5.9 The IT professional uses meta data on a casual basis; the DSS analyst uses meta data regularly and as the first step of an analysis.

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