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High Performance Data Warehousing

Chapter 1 

The Evolution Of The Data Warehouse

While the use of databases as a vehicle for complex data analysis is new, the need to perform complex data analysis has been with us for centuries. Answering “what-if” questions, simulating the introduction of a new product, or determining the most profitable products are all legitimate business needs, and the advent of the data warehouse did not herald the first time that computers had been used to solve these types of tasks.

In fact, computers have been used to solve complex types of data analysis problems since their earliest commercial inception in the 1950s. Essentially, the nature of the questions that data warehouses solve has not changed in four decades. The summarization of numbers, the aggregation of associated data, and data variance analysis is nothing new.

The Evolution Of Data Management Platforms

Regardless of the sophistication of a database manager, it remains true that all databases are constructed from simple data structures such as linked lists, b-trees, and hashed files. In reviewing the building blocks of database systems, it is possible to gain a historical perspective on the evolution of databases, and to remember the past, so that we are not condemned to repeat it.

The following pages are a historical review of database evolution, showing each of the enhancements that were introduced with each new architecture. It is also important to review the problems inherent to each database architecture. As you will see, there are striking similarities between object-oriented databases and earlier database architectures. By understanding the historical reason that object-oriented databases have evolved into their present form, we can gain insight into the future trend and directions of databases.

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