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Oracle overhauls ETL, Warehouse Builder released

Oracle Corp. today released the long-awaited overhaul of its database design and ETL (extraction, transformation and load) tool, Warehouse Builder 10g, Release 2 (formerly code-named "Paris").

Warehouse Builder is Oracle's toolset for managing the lifecycle of data and metadata, from design to deployment and maintenance, for Oracle Database. At a basic level, the product turns raw data into what Oracle calls "quality information," says Oracle senior group manager Paul Narth.

"The difference between 'data' and 'information' is that the latter has quality checks and cleansing applied to it to turn it into something meaningful," Narth tells DataTrends. "We try not to confuse the two."

As the name suggests, the tool is used in data warehousing, but in some ways it's a bit of a misnomer, says Narth, because it can be used in much broader data movements. This release adds support for pluggable mappings, slowly changing dimensions, data modeling of both relational and multidimensional objects, and data profiling, among others.

The latest release is actually the eighth since the tool was first introduced in January 2000. Last year, industry analyst firm Gartner included Warehouse Builder among the leaders in its well-known Magic Quadrant report, alongside enterprise ETL solutions from IBM and Informatica.

With this release, Warehouse Builder is no longer part of the Developer Suites, but comes packaged with the Oracle database. The core ETL features are free with the database Standard Edition, Standard Edition One and Enterprise Edition. Those "core" features map to the previous 10g Release 1 version.

This release also supports non-Oracle databases, allowing users to choose where their data is ultimately stored. And it comes with a wealth of new APIs.

One of the more intriguing new features in this release, called “Experts,” is designed to enable organizations to encapsulate their own development standards and best practices as wizards. "This feature gives a broad range of users—including end users—access to Warehouse Builder’s declarative functionality," explains Narth. "Let's say, for instance, that I want my end users to get data into a table, but these particular end users don't know anything about using an ETL tool. That's an increasingly common scenario. They are, however, perfectly capable of using a wizard. They don't need to know the mechanisms, what's happening under the covers; they can be protected from all of that."    

Other new features in this release include a new, interactive lineage and impact analyzer; user defined objects and associations; and a change propagator designed to facilitate rapid response to changing metadata. A data quality option supports data profiling, data rules, data cleansing/auto-correction and data auditing.

The new Warehouse Builder Connectors provide a means of extracting data quickly and easily, and in some cases, of targeting data in an organization's core CRM and ERP applications. The existing Oracle Warehouse Builder Connector for SAP has been enhanced and now supports variable substitution within ABAP and direct deployment and execution of ABAP code. But, although it does support ETL from SAP apps into the Oracle DB, it doesn't support the reverse.

A recent release of Warehouse Builder on the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) generated 1,400 downloads, Narth says.

The production version of Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2 is generally available for 10 platforms including Linux and Windows. A free evaluation version is available now.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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