The concept of data warehousing originated in the 1980s in response to organizations’ growing need to access and analyze large amounts of data. Barry Devlin and Paul Murphy were the first to introduce the concept of a “business data warehouse” in the 1988 article “An Architecture for a Business and Information System.”

Over time, data warehousing concepts and techniques evolved primarily due to technological advancements. Specifically, the increasing availability of massive storage capacity, faster processors, and improved database management systems contributed to the growth and adoption of data warehouses.

Today, data warehousing continues to evolve with the emergence of cloud-based solutions, big data technologies, and real-time data integration capabilities. These advancements allow organizations to use data to form actionable insights and make strategic decisions.

What Is a Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is a centralized repository that stores large volumes of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data from various sources within an organization. It is designed to support the process of data integration, consolidation, and analysis for decision-making and business intelligence (BI) purposes

Data warehouses have become a must in today’s data-driven world. Now, you may wonder if any organization can build a data warehouse. The quick answer is a resounding yes, provided they have the correct information—everything they need to know about data warehousing.

What Are the Steps in Building a Data Warehouse?

Building a data warehouse from scratch is possible. It does, however, involve several key steps and considerations. Here’s an overview of the process.

  1. Define the requirements: Start by understanding your organization’s business needs and objectives. Identify the subject areas to include in your data warehouse and the data types you wish to store and analyze. Determine your data warehousing project’s scope, priorities, and expected outcomes.
  1. Develop a data model: Develop a logical and physical data model for your data warehouse. That involves identifying the subject areas’ entities, attributes, relationships, and hierarchies. Consider different data modeling techniques based on your organization’s requirements and preferences, such as dimensional modeling or the Inmon approach.
  1. Extract, transform, and load the data: Implement the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) process to extract data from various source systems, transform it into a consistent format, and load it into your data warehouse. This process may involve data cleansing, integration, and validation and the application of business rules. You can use ETL tools or custom scripts for this purpose.
  1. Identify the data storage and architecture: Determine the storage architecture for your data warehouse. Choose an appropriate database management system (DBMS) that supports your organization’s data volume, performance, scalability, and security requirements. Consider options like relational or columnar databases or cloud-based data warehousing solutions.
  1. Establish data governance and security policies: Establish data governance policies and practices to ensure data quality, integrity, and security within your data warehouse. Define access controls; data retention policies; and data update, backup, and disaster recovery procedures. Implement security measures to protect sensitive data as well.
  1. Implement analytics tracking and reporting: Develop tools and technologies for data analysis, reporting, and visualization. That may include BI platforms, data visualization tools, and analytics software. Create data marts or dimensional models optimized for specific analysis requirements.
  1. Optimize performance: Fine-tune the performance of your data warehouse by optimizing database schema, indexing strategies, query performance, and data partitioning. Monitor and analyze your system’s performance to identify bottlenecks and optimize resource utilization.
  1. Ensure iterative development and maintenance: Building a data warehouse is iterative. Continuously refine and enhance your data warehouse based on user feedback, evolving business needs, and technological advancements. Regularly maintain and update it to incorporate new data sources, ensure data quality, and adapt to changing requirements.
data warehousing steps

Note that building a data warehouse from scratch can be complex and time-consuming. It can take as short as 2 months. Organizations often involve a team of data architects, data engineers, business analysts, and other stakeholders to execute such a project successfully. Alternatively, they can opt for cloud-based data warehousing solutions or work with external consultants to accelerate development.

Most, if not all, organizations that want to optimize data usage to enhance employee performance, optimize operations, and improve their profitability can definitely benefit from a data warehouse. And given that the digital age has made information the new currency, we’re bound to see more and more companies turn to data warehousing.

In 2019, the global data warehousing market was valued at US$21.18 billion. By 2028, it is projected to reach US$51.18 billion.