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Horizontal warehousing, Sybase style

Packaged analytic apps are gaining increased attention among IT professionals. For its part, Sybase Inc. (http://www.sybase.com) has been offering a mini-warehouse solution to help customers jumpstart the design and development of their enterprise analytic applications. The Industry Warehouse Studio (IWS) solution is a horizontal approach that can be tailored to media, health-care, banking, capital markets, life insurance, telco and credit card applications.

For instance, the Los Angeles Times, which operates an advanced inserting and distribution facility in the U.S., just started using the IWS for Media solution to leverage its circulation data stores, and to help it monitor advertising market penetration and financial trends in its growing pre-print ad business. In pre-print distribution, Los Angeles Times advertisers are offered a customized approach for distributing freestanding fliers and product samples.

IWS implementations often have a ''far-reaching effect'' on the overall enterprise application development process, said Roger Travis, vice president of worldwide sales for Sybase's Business Intelligence Division ''The customer acquires an enterprise model and infrastructure. They start with an individual project, quickly bring value to the business, and then incrementally expand to other areas of the enterprise. As they add more data, the value of the enterprise data warehouse grows geometrically.'' The Los Angeles Times, he noted, ''is combining circulation, advertising and third-party data, so they clearly see it as a framework for very broad use.''

Does Travis consider the description ''mini-warehouse'' for IWS accurate? ''Yes, but with a caveat,'' he noted. ''We don't want to see IWS positioned as a shrink-wrapped finished product. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution even within a specific industry, but a robust platform infrastructure that can be expand for specific requirements.''

Each version of IWS consists of Sybase's Power Designer 9 data warehouse architect tool for enhancing, modifying and working with the CRM components; and Warehouse Control Center, a meta data management product that supports meta data exports from Informatica on the ETL side, and Cognos, MicroStrategy and Business Objects on the visualization side. According to Travis, Sybase created a methodology and architecture within the model for an analytic environment, ''but adding fact tables or dimensions is part of the methodology. You don't have to be a design architect to develop the application, you merely need to be knowledgeable within the basic discipline.''

The meta data management product can push data out to whatever tool is already in-house. ''We wanted to stay out of the religious wars when it comes to customer preferences for ETL tools, visualization tools and design tools,'' explained Travis. ''We're not locking the customer into any tool or product. And since the tool generates the DDLs for data models in any database product, the product is platform independent from a database perspective as well.''

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