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Some time back, Bill Inmon, the father of Data Warehousing, took the Hadoop vendor Cloudera to task for putting out some confusing advertising.

In recent times, Cloudera have linked up with Ralph Kimball, who, as some in the data world will know, has been an eternal ‘rival’ of Bill Inmon.

For some, the name of Ralph Kimball has become synonymous with dimensional modelling, and although the Kimball Group once stated that Ralph did not invent the original basic concepts of facts and dimensions, Ralph has contributed much to the development of dimensional modelling and the innovative use of SQL. Subsequently, the Kimball Group reassessed, and are now labelling Ralph as the “Dimensional modelling inventor”.

Kimball and Cloudera have collaborated on a number of initiatives, such as a webinar and slide set, with particular emphasis on the theme of Hadoop and Data Warehousing.

Now, I do not know whether this is intentional or accidental, but this collaboration has produced a lot of disingenuous claims and dubious comparisons, so much so, that I get the impression that building the DW Disinformation Factory is becoming a cottage industry in its own right.

Personally, I can see scenarios in which Big Data complements Enterprise Data warehousing, and I have explained my vision and possible architectures for these scenarios. However, what some Hadoop vendors are alluding to in the Data Warehousing space, is actually quite mischievous and misleading and is not constructive in the least, in fact, the biggest side-effect is to muddy the Big Data and Data Warehousing waters even further. That is not good, either for the industry or for the customers, or indeed, for the professionals.

In one piece of content from Cloudera, we can read that…

“Dr. Kimball explains how Hadoop can be both:

A destination data warehouse, and also

An efficient staging and ETL source for an existing data warehouse”

On the first point? No, Hadoop will not be replacing Teradata, Oracle, EXASol or any other high-performance relational database management system.

On the second point. Hadoop could support a data source for Data Warehousing, as can many other technologies. However, there is no such animal as an ETL source. There are data sources and data targets, extractions, transformations and loads, and all that cool data management, but ETL is a technology, not a source.

I think Big Data may have a big future; it depends on how deeply the internet development culture pervades enterprise application development. A lot of what Big Data addresses is about is making up for shortfalls created by badly architected web applications and shoddy application development, in which data use and data persistence were at best workaround bodges, rather than being well designed and coherent approaches to data management.

Maybe this is some why people have a hard time explaining why they are considering using Hadoop technologies for Big Data. What would a CEO say if it was brought to their attention that Hadoop was being used in their business simply to make up for the fact that their internet applications are really shoddy examples of analysis, design, architecture and management? More to the point, what would the shareholders say if they understood the full ramifications behind the need to use Hadoop?

In many cases, I think that Hadoop can be an indication that your IT organisation did something very wrong in the past, and that in these cases Hadoop is the price one pays when you one does not want to bite the bullet and admit that to screwing up, big time.

In my opinion, it would make more sense to replace applications built on faulty architectures with robust and well-architected applications, rather than fix a problem by overmedicating the patient. This would mean that data generated and used by these applications could simply dovetail into standard decision-support data platforms, such as the Enterprise Data Warehouse.

As for Cloudera and their bizarre and babbling baloney about Hadoop replacing the Data Warehouse? I suggest they read a book in the subject of Building the Data Warehouse, and maybe buck up their ideas a bit. As Bill Inmon stated “You would think that the executives of Cloudera would have familiarized themselves with what a data warehouse is.”

As for recognised data professionals and influencers who support such Hadoop tripe? The less said the better. Eh, Ralphie?

That stated, maybe Cloudera, Kimball and the Big Data flim-flam merchants simply don’t care.

So go ahead, “turbocharge your Porsche – buy an elephant.”

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