Monday, February 23, 2009

Keeping your BI environment clean

image Over the past year or so the "green" revolution has been sweeping IT as a way for organizations to reduce their environmental impact and to cut costs at the same time.  This has driven the need for robust measurement systems to manage the transition to being a green organization.  A number of the big BI vendors have come out with pre-packaged solutions to drive more "green"  for organizations by encapsulating best practices.

It is great for BI teams to provide these systems to the organization, but we would be remiss to not apply these techniques within our BI environments.

What can you do?  One thing I recommend you do is to perform a complete review of your Business Intelligence data stores and reporting at least once a year.  The overall goals of this review are to remove obsolete information and to address any deficiencies.  There are a number of activities you could incorporate into this review:

  • Validate with your business stakeholders that the information has continuing value.  Solicit feedback on the information that is valuable, but is somehow incomplete.
  • Review usage statistics for data marts and reports to determine what content is accessed regularly and by whom
  • Validate that the report or data store reflects current business logic
  • Gather metrics on batch load processes, response time, and storage usage to ensure your environment is stable and is scaling as volumes grow.  I've never heard of a Data Warehouse that shrinks in size over time.

The majority of these activities do not cost you a dime other than people's time.  This is especially attractive in a financial environment like today, when capital spending is being closely scrutinized.  Putting in place a regular program such as this will enable your organization to realize the following benefits:

  • Reduce maintenance costs for your BI environment.  Less data marts and reports to support as your environment grows and changes.  You can quickly find yourself drowning in too many items to support.
  • Lower the related data centre costs to support your infrastructure.  Believe it or not, all your ETL processes, database servers and storage solutions consume significant amounts of power and cooling.
  • Identify duplicated information that is redundant.  Root out conflicting business definitions.
  • Reduce the opportunity for information overload.  Having focused information will allow your users to find what they are looking for quicker.

Spare the environment and lower your costs by supporting less while extracting maximum value from your existing investments.  You can't beat this type of ROI!

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