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February 20, 2009

Am I buying a DW Appliance or a refrigerator?

After spending a few hours this week talking to a few Fortune 100 companies about DW Appliances and database technologies, the title of this post came to me. As these companies asked me which technologies were right for them, I had to chuckle. As I pondered the question, kitchen appliances kept jumping into my head. Call me crazy, but I believe the DW Appliance vendors have been copying the marketing brochures of Kitchenaid, GE, Subzero and Maytag and substituting ice/water dispenser for massively parallel processing / scalability, freezes ice cubes faster for executes queries faster, has a vegetable crisper for crisp analytics, and so on. At least they are both consistent with the "green" message and you plug it in and you can start using it immediately.

Like any good consultant, I responded, "That depends". I continued by asking for more information about their environment, their business objectives and their business' future needs and desires. The conversations were insightful and warrant further discussions that I look forward to.

From this exercise, I find it interesting that the marketing of the masses has had this great of an influence on companies taking their initial steps of looking for their next Data Warehouse technologies. Don't get me wrong, DW Appliances are great and have come a long way over the years. DW Appliances definitely make life easier in many different ways. Maybe a different way to look at it, has data warehouse appliances and technologies progressed to a point that selecting one is a personal preference. Hmmm...Iím not going to answer that.

At the end of the day, I hope everyone is selecting the technologies that best fit their situation. Push the marketing fluff and technology bling aside and focus on the business objectives and goals that must be satisfied first. When I say "business", I don't mean IT's perception of the business objectives, but the business objectives and goals stated in a measurable manner, by the business, to be utilized by IT to meet the goals and objectives. Focus on corporate success measurements, not IT goals when taking your first steps. Understanding the current and future business objectives will help when researching and evaluating technologies. Taking these initial steps will help narrow the field and save a lot of time while evaluating what is the correct technology for the situation.

Over the past 5 years I've done a lot of work gathering business requirements and utilizing them for technology evaluations and architecting solutions. I'd love to hear good and bad (lessons learned) experiences people have had when starting this process. Feel free to comment.

Jim McManus

Posted by Jim McManus at February 20, 2009 4:45 PM


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