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The Evolution of Database Development

Oracle Tips  by Burleson Consulting

The Data Warehouse Development Life Cycle

The Evolution of Database Development

One of the main goals of database management systems was the concept of the "central repository," which would store all of a corporationís information and allow information to be accessed and distributed to all areas in the corporation. Many companies underwent expensive conversion efforts and established mega-databases containing many gigabytes of corporate information. The centralized repository promised to allow complete control and sharing of information for all areas within the organization.

As the idea of the corporate repository matured, companies discovered that many of the promises of database technology were not being fulfilled. Even though the data was stored in a central repository, the managers complained that some information was not being provided to them, or the information was not in a form that the managers could use. Many areas within the company also felt that they were hostages to their information systems department. In order to make changes to their systems, they were forced to work with a team of programmers who they felt were unresponsive to their needs. Often, simple changes could take many months and cost thousands of dollars.

The promise of computer systems with a perpetual life span has also proved to be a fallacy. Systems designed to have a useful life of several decades were literally falling apart as a result of the constant maintenance required to keep up with changing demands. Systems delivered with complete documentation and well-structured code soon became unmanageable conglomerations of "spaghetti.". An excellent example is the social security system. When the social security system was first implemented, the programs were well-structured and completely documented. The system processed hundreds of thousands of social security checks each month. This very same system received Senator Proxmire's "Golden Fleece" award several years later, when the system was paying social security benefits to many people who were not entitled to benefits. The system, once pristine and well-structured, had become so unmanageable that even the programming staff had trouble describing the functions of each program. The system had to be scrapped and redesigned.

This is an excerpt from "High Performance Data Warehousing", copyright 1997.
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