Data Warehouse Database Technology

Database Technology for Data Warehousing

Select and Use the Right Database Technology for Your Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Project

David Haertzen David Haertzen, Principal Enterprise Architect

Which relational database should you choose for the staging, data warehouse and data mart databases that make up the data warehousing system? In addition, which version and feature set are the best choice? As you can see by this data warehouse architecture diagram there are a number of databases involved:

Data Warehousing Technical Architecture

First look at your goals and objectives. Requirements you may consider when evaluating include:

  • Scalability - can you start small and grow?
  • Portability / multi-platform and multi OS
  • Volume of data stored
  • Volume of data loaded / changed
  • Number of users
  • Analytics requirements
  • Volatility of data
  • Organization standards
  • Availability of pre-packaged models
  • Availability of tools
  • Availability of trained personnel
  • Existing database and hardware used
  • Relationships and contracts with vendors
  • Best of Breed vs Total Product Line

Performance features to consider:

  • Table/index partitioning (mysql5.1 has merge table feature)
  • Fast drop/create index (mysql5.1)
  • Fast data import / bulk load (mysql5.1)
  • Efficient full text search (mysql5.1)
  • High availability (mysql5.1)
  • High data compression for archive (mysql5.1)

Financial Considerations:

  • Software Base License Costs
  • Hardware Costs
  • Trained people costs
  • Financial viability of vendor
  • Start up costs
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

There are a number of databases that you may want to consider. The following databases and their respective vendors are market leaders that you are likely to evaluate:

  • DB2 from IBM Corporation
  • MySql from Sun Software
  • Oracle from Oracle Corporation
  • SQL Server from Microsoft Corporation
  • Teradata from Teradata Corporation

There are other very good database systems such as Sybase-IQ and Postgres.

Business Intelligence with DB2

DB2 from IBM is definitely an alternative to consider if your organization runs an IBM shop with AIX or z/OS operating system.



  • Strong on IBM platforms (AIX and Z/OS)
  • Highly scalable
  • Integrates with related IBM offerings
  • Supported by IBM and partners
  • Good installed base
  • Not as strong on Linux and Windows
  • Add on cost is high


DB2 has a number of versions and supports multiple platforms. The Express-C version of the system differs from other express versions in that there is no limit on database size. The Data Warehouse Edition (DWE) packages DB2 Enterprise Server along with:

  • DB2 Cube Views
  • DB2 Intelligent Miner Modeling,
  • Visualization, and Scoring
  • DB2 Warehouse Manager Standard Edition

IBM has developed a means of speeding queries by storing pre-computing values called Materialized Query Tables (MQT).  This helps DB2 to be highly scalable.

Business Intelligence with MySql

MySQL from Sun Software is the world's most popular open source DBMS. It has proven itself in many situations with successes with companies like LinkedIn, Dow Corning and the NBC Olympics.



  • Many users
  • Low cost
  • Scalable
  • Multi-platform
  • Many partners
  • Many tools
  • Easy to use
  • Supported by Sun Software
  • Features may be slow in coming
  • OLAP is not provided by Sun


With MySQL, you can start with the Community Edition and then upgrade to the Enterprise Edition for production work.

Business Intelligence with Oracle

Oracle provides an industry leading relational database plus a suite of business intelligence products.



  • Data warehousing and business intelligence features available
  • Very scalable
  • Multi-platform
  • Many partners
  • Many tools
  • Supported by Oracle
  • High price
  • Add-ons cost extra


Oracle does provide a free Express version, so it is possible to start at a low cost.

Business Intelligence with SQL Server

SQL Server 2005 from Microsoft is a great choice when the environment is Windows and moderate scalability is required.



  • Ease of use
  • High customer satisfaction
  • Strong Microsoft supprt
  • Widely used
  • Availability of people
  • Scales up to 3 TB
  • ETL suite included
  • OLAP suite included
  • Reporting suite included
  • Low TCO compared to other commercial software
  • Limited to Windows platform
  • Scalability beyond 3 TB is a challenge


SQL Server 2005 has a number of versions ranging in price from free to $25,000. If you want to learn SQL Server or do a proof of concept, the Developer version is a bargain at $50. Keep in mind that if multiple platforms such as development, test and production are needed the cost will increase.



Work Group


CPU 1 1 2 4 No Limit
RAM 1 GB 3 GB 3 GB No Limit No Limit


4 GB 4 GB


No Limit No Limit
No No No No Yes
UI Basic Studio Studio Studio Studio
OLAP No Yes No Yes Yes
Reporting No Yes No Yes Yes
Approx Price Free $50 $3.9K $6K $25K

Please check with vendor for most current prices and features. The prices and features presented on this page are for information only.

Business Intelligence with Teradata

Teradata has a long history of supporting large scale databases aimed at data warehousing and business intelligence.  Teradata provides both the relational database software and the hardware that supports it.



  • Can support large data warehouses - over 10 TB
  • Industry data models
  • High price point
  • Not portable - requires specialized hardware


Consider Teradata when large databases that support many users are needed.

Database Choice for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence

In conclusion, there a number of relational database choices available to support data warehousing and business intelligence.  These database choices cover a wide range of scalability and price.



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