But here is the rub. SOA and the standards that go around it were not invented for BI. They were invented for e-commerce and transactional processing. It's one thing to ship a url or a 141-digit credit card transaction string or even 50k of XML around the network, but SOAP was not designed to handle shipping a 10 GB result set from one service to another. The whole idea of loosely coupled begs the question, "Where is the data?" If there are three different services, each one optimized to perform a certain kind of function for analytical work, how do we move these rapidly exploding amounts of data from one to the other? Consider Operational BI (a term which is highly ambiguous). Assume there is a data warehouse that already provides the information for reporting and analysis, OLAP and performance management. Operational BI will jack up the number of users, change the profile of usage and really mix up the numbers and types and queries the database has to service. Is it really likely that this data warehouse will become "virtual," with bits and pieces of the data spread across the landscape, owned by numerous and sundry services? Will all of the different kinds of queries be satisfied by spreading the work across all of these presumably asymmetric processors? Will there be effective orchestration to manage the federation of the queries to provide the kind of service that the applications require? I doubt it. I was ready to write data warehousing off not long ago, but I think it's just heading in a new direction supporting operational processes and the growing disparity and externalization of business. Relational database vendors have a pretty mixed record when it comes to supporting BI, but they are the only product group that has the R&D funds to ramp up performance. Improvements in optimizer technology for BI over the past decade are impressive, but that's only one piece of the puzzle, albeit an important piece. I would pose this question to the vendors, though: If you are going to support business decision making, which going forward includes decision automation and the implementation of predictive models, when will you be able to implement it in your own products? When will workload managers develop enough intelligence to be able to handle all that the industry is promising for the next few years?
Neil Raden is the founder of Hired Brains, providers of consulting, research and analysis in Business Intelligence, Performance Management, real-time analytics and information/semantic integration. Neil is co-author of the just-released book "Smart Enough Systems," with business rules expert James Taylor.Here is the rub. SOA and the standards that go around it were not invented for BI. It's one thing to ship a url or a 141-digit credit card transaction string or even 50k of XML around the network, but SOAP was not designed to handle shipping a 10 GB result set from one service to another. The whole idea of loosely coupled begs the question, "Where is the data?"