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Software // Information Management

Letter Drop

What Happened to Simplicity?; Intelligent Infrastructure; Lights On

What Happened to Simplicity?

The bad news isn't in the 38 subsystems Ralph Kimball has listed ("The 38 Subsystems of ETL," Dec. 4, 2004), but the fact that he's listed 38. What happened to the simplicity he once professed? Extract, transform and load implementation should follow an evolutionary approach with clarity in each of the three core subsystems. The only "subsystems" worthy of mentioning on their own merit are versioning, administration as a whole and the metadata repository. All others should be encapsulated within the others as well as the dimensional modeling that preceeded the ETL implementation.

Rangarajan Suresh
Picaros Solutions
Lansdale, Pa.
[email protected]

Ralph Kimball responds: Well, I disagree. For instance, to lump extraction, change data capture and data profiling under the single word "extract" isn't a useful simplification, but rather an excuse for not saying what these three different functions are. The imprecision of the words extract, transform and load is now hindering our moving forward to define best practices in a precise way. I wish there weren't 38 subsystems of ETL, but understanding and differentiating these 38 is a necessary skill for the modern ETL architect.

Intelligent Infrastructure

Intelligent infrastructure ("Building an Intelligent IT Infrastructure," Dec. 4, 2004) starts with something much simpler than added layers of automation: Intelligence is required on the part of the systems architect to keep things straightforward. For example, a basic principle of infrastructure simplification is to use "out of the box" platform and component integration-suites-rather than roll your own mix of components from multiple vendors. This approach is significantly different from the current focus on "open" or "standard" interfaces, which don't provide simple infrastructure integration out of the box without additional systems or programmer-level integration work. Work spent on infrastructure integration isn't spent on business requirements and is, therefore, undesirable overhead-even if it can be done using open standards. The business driver is the simple but overlooked fact that systems complexity increases factorially with the number of non-vendor-integrated components.

To simplify intelligent infrastructure, use a small set of highly functional, vendor-integrated systems, security, database and development platforms and component suites that work across many types of applications, interfaces and user sets. They should be internally integrated with each other out of the box and offer widely supported open or vendor-standard interfaces to external platforms and components to be used where required.

Paul Noeldner
Madison, Wis.

Lights On

I forwarded your articles "Workforce Performance Management: Efficiency and Effectiveness" (Nov. 29, 2004) and "Performance Management: 2005" (Dec. 4, 2004) to a client pursuing a CRM implementation. The product implementation began the first week of January. Your concise information on this issue helped "turn their lights on."

Stan Stark
Heuroes Consulting
Sugar Land, Texas
[email protected]

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