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An enterprise data warehouse (EDW) is a single location where all the historical information about a business and for the business is stored. Organizations today run on data that becomes the lifeblood of any business and how it is used is a key differentiator between a successful enterprise and one that is less so. 

Data is generated from almost every internal and external process a business is involved with and can be of multiple different formats and types. Using an EDW, companies can store different types of data in a relational data warehouse so that it can be used for Business Intelligence (BI) activities.

What Differentiates EDW from BI or DW?

Comparing BI and EDW

Business Intelligence (BI) relies on data to generate actionable and useful insights for a business. Without this information, companies would struggle to make data-driven strategic decisions. However, while businesses generate terabytes of data daily, this data is often located in multiple different databases and is often in a format that does not lend itself to analysis.

This situation can be resolved through the use of an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Here developers and data scientists work together to centralize the data in a structured format. This lets different enterprise units use the data for queries and analysis.

Once the information is centrally located, BI software and tools can be used to analyze the data in a search for patterns and future data provided guidance. Having an EDW in place is a critical requirement for the success of BI endeavors within an organization. 

What is the Difference Between a DW and EDW?

The functions of a data warehouse (DW) and an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) are very similar. A data warehouse provides an interface between raw data and the tools used by BI teams for analysis and review. This is where the similarities start and end. A DW focuses on a specific business unit or department, while an EDW looks after data for the entire organization and as a result has much more complex architecture and functionality.

Enterprise data warehouse architecture has to accommodate the different business units that require access to the data. To make things simpler for users, EDWs are often composed of many smaller databases so that database queries do not get overly complex. 

What is EDW and why do you need one?

It is important to understand and acknowledge that the size of an EDW is not a factor in its complexity. How complex an EDW is, is rather based more on the underlying requirements from the business and the data itself.

Some Features to Consider in an EDW

When considering the underlying architecture of an EDW there are several key features that need to be available. 

Database Performance

  1. An EDW needs to offer businesses the ability to grow. As data is continually being generated, EDWs need to be able to scale to meet changing business needs and demands. 
  2. An EDW should automate normal maintenance activities to help save time and resources. These activities would include data backups, software patching, replication, and more.
  3. An EDW should provide tools to simplify data searches. These tools can help categorize and store data in the proper formats so that BI teams are better able to analyze data.

Data Storage

Data warehouse concepts need to be at the heart of any EDW. Data needs to be available through a read-only data repository that can be accessed in multiple environments. It should be possible to store data based on the subject and with specific metadata tags. By organizing data based on time, researchers can find and look for temporary trends. 

Security and Compliance

  1. Data in an EDW needs to be properly encrypted. In addition, access to the data needs to be further secured with user authentication.
  2. All data in an EDW needs to comply with local, regional, and national rules and regulations. This includes regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI DSS.

Data Integration and Management

An EDW needs to provide organizations with a seamless way of accessing data and should offer the ability to ingest data on the fly. An EDW needs to provide the ability to load and query data using SQL and should also support Big Data integration.

Why You Need an EDW and How it Benefits Your Business

Data continues to grow and accumulate from many sources. For an enterprise, having access to the data is only useful if it can help generate actionable intelligence. Here are some of the different concepts of EDW usage within a business.

Provides a Comprehensive Overview of the Business and its Clients

As an EDW has all the data that a company possesses, it is an excellent source of information about a company’s clients. Using this data, organizations can better predict customer turnover and define strategies they need to grow revenue through the use of predictive analytics. 

Data Available in Real-time

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) is a process of cleaning and optimization of data, performed during transferring raw data from a source to the data warehouse. EDW storing stage may include other data standardization processes. In simple Enterprise Data Warehouse architectures, it may be the last stage where data is prepared before real-time queries.

By providing real-time access to data, companies can realize improved productivity gains across all areas of the business. Information can be shared between departments and teams in a more seamless manner, helping remove communication bottlenecks and increasing overall efficiency.

Maintaining Data Compliance

EDWs simplify the process of data compliance by providing engineers with a single database to audit and verify. 

Removing the Limiter of Technical Knowledge

Non-technical personnel can also benefit from an EDW and use the data it provides to improve their specific functions and areas of operation. Using IoT sensors, store managers can map which locations get the most foot traffic helping determine how best to advertise merchandise.

Data Consolidation

With an EDW companies have flexibility in how their data is stored. Enterprises can choose to use cloud storage, on-premises storage, or a hybrid solution based on their requirements. Users can access data stored in the EDW as if it were a unified data set improving its overall usability.

What is EDW and why do you need one?

Types of EDW

There are on-premises, cloud-hosted, and hybrid options. Each of them has different pros and cons that need to be acknowledged before making a decision.


An on-premises EDW is where the company owns all the hardware and software that an organization needs for its EDW. 

The pros of an on-premises solution include:

  • Control – having all the facilities, a company completely controls all the infrastructure and the EDW. This lets the organization ensure that all systems fully comply with any data security standards, as well as following data compliance regulations.
  • Availability – when users and data centers are located in the same building, dedicated internet access is not needed for individuals to access the data warehouse.

The cons of an on-premise solution are directly linked to the pros. With full control of all hardware and software, a company also takes on complete responsibility. They need to ensure that all maintenance is done and equipment is competently installed and implemented as well securely protected

Also, as the company handles all the hardware and software, if scaling of the solution is needed, that requirement falls on the business as well. 

This can be very expensive for businesses based on the amount of data in question. In addition, storage costs, maintenance activities and resource costs are also important concepts that need to be accounted for as well as the underlying equipment costs.


With cloud EDWs, companies deploy the EDW into the cloud instead of maintaining equipment in their facility.

Cloud EDWs are built to scale and will provide organizations with more flexible infrastructure. This will let a business scale up or down on-demand with no impact on the performance of the enterprise DW. Also, as organizations do not need to pay for hardware, costs are significantly lower. Businesses that chose to use a DW-as-a-Service solution (DWaaS) can further benefit from an elimination of software acquisition costs.

While the benefits to cloud solutions are great, some negatives to be considered include the potential risk of budget overruns. If a business fails to closely monitor its data usage, unexpected queries could require additional storage and computing power, increasing the costs. Another concern to be aware of is data compliance and security. Most cloud providers have security features, but some industry regulations require that specific data be stored on-premises.


A hybrid EDW mixes the on-premises option with cloud storage.

A hybrid solution helps address data compliance issues by keeping sensitive information within the environment but still provides enterprises with access to cloud resources for storage and computational requirements. 

This mixed solution can be more costly, as it requires an enterprise to create an architecture for an on-premise solution while still paying subscription fees for cloud services. 

Which EDW is Right for Your Business

To understand which solution is right for your business, it is important to make a list of all of your current needs, as well as the gaps that your current solution does not fulfill. Your selected replacement needs to meet “must-haves” but should also accommodate as many wished-for features as possible.

When looking at your needs and requirements, look specifically at the performance of your current enterprise data warehouse solution. Review the responses provided to queries and compare these to the claims provided by different EDW vendors. 

Also, look at the underlying price that you’d be paying. Most EDW vendors will have calculators that you can use to review monthly costs for storage and infrastructure. In addition to the cost, verify that security and compliance will be maintained. 

Finally, when choosing a solution, you must consider how your EDW will integrate with your data. Understand the different ETL tools that are available to you and how simple or difficult these would be to implement in your environment.

What is EDW and why do you need one?

How EDW is Currently Used in Industry

To better understand how you can use an EDW, consider its use in these sectors:


The healthcare sector uses data warehouses extensively to help plan patient treatment. Using an EDW, healthcare organizations share data with insurance organizations and also other medical facilities. 


EDW concepts are used extensively in the banking sector to ensure that appropriate resources are available at all times. Banks also use EDWs for performance analysis on their underlying financial products and services. An EDW is instrumental in helping conduct market research activities on their customers as well.

Government Organizations 

The public sector uses EDWs extensively to plan strategies and gather information. Using EDW government departments are better able to review health information for their constituents as well as financial and tax records.


An EDW is of great help to retail organizations, as it can be used not only to plan and strategize but also as a means of direct marketing to customers. By tracking customer interactions, an EDW can learn customer buying patterns and provide information for promotions that will help to increase revenue.


Making a decision on an EDW is not a simple process. There are factors that must be considered, ranging from the type of EDW to its overall function. Planning out functions and how they interrelate with your data requirements could take years of planning and testing.

This is where the services of a company like NIX come into the equation. At NIX, we understand technology and business. Our team of skilled developers and project managers can work with you to fully document your needs and determine which solution is best for your requirements.

Our consulting skills are not restricted to advice and information alone. We can help you implement a solution that makes sense for you and also works with your bottom line. When working with NIX, you can expect a complete solution that will meet your needs now and into the future.

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