Hybrids, it seems, are not just for the physical highway any more. They are also taking their place on the information superhighway – or, more precisely, in its parking garages. Because the Big Data revolution also means a revolution in data warehousing. And this data warehousing revolution is still taking form.
Big Data, as we have repeatedly noted here, is not just big. It is also complex, unstructured or semi-structured – meaning that it cannot be easily pigeonholed into the familiar relational database. Or into the conventional enterprise data warehouse (EDW) model that developed around relational databases.
Get ready to hear more about hybrid data warehouses, logical data warehouses, and so forth.
Which does not mean that the EDW as we have known it is necessarily going away. After all, there is still an awful lot of structured data out there. And it is a type of data that frequently gets accessed – precisely because it is well-structured, with a clear meaning and context. With structured data you know exactly what you are getting. With unstructured data, such as social-media comments, not so much.
Thus, one school of thought sees the data warehouse of the future as a composite or hybrid, combining the familiar EDW alongside other structures such as Hadoop clusters or NoSQL databases. Says one analyst and consultant Shawn Rogers, "within the hybrid data ecosystem that we're dealing with today, the data warehouse is no longer the center of our data needs."
But that is not the only perspective. Other observers emphasize the continuing relevance of EDW. According to another analyst-consultant, Ron Bodkin, "think of the EDW as the retail store where people pick up data that's organized and packaged and ready for them to accept." Other types of data may need to be prepped and cooked before it can be served.