Reference Data Management: What, Why, and How - InformationWeek

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Reference Data Management: What, Why, and How

Razza Dimension Server 5.0 offers a modern approach to reference data management.

RazzaDS enforces referential integrity by means of two rules: A node can't occur more than once in a single hierarchy (thus preventing circular references), and if a node participates in more than one hierarchy, it must have the same children in all the hierarchies. Additionally, simple to complex user-defined validations can be applied to the hierarchies in a real-time or batch mode.

Hierarchies can be managed as versions. For example, the 2004Q2 version of the Accounts hierarchy can be in production while 2004Q3 is being finalized (from a copy of the 2004Q2 version, of course).

Hierarchies can be imported and exported. In fact, when you deploy RazzaDS, you mostly import hierarchies from existing systems of record (using XML) rather than have users enter them manually.


  1. Competent solution for reference data management
  2. Effective and user-friendly interface
  3. Support for XML/SOAP


  1. No support for modeling of reference data
  2. Can be disruptive to existing apps
  3. Small, privately held single-product company

RazzaDS enforces security at various levels: version, hierarchy, node, or property level. In addition it has function-level security: Users can be granted or denied access to specific functions.

RazzaDS comes in two architectural flavors. It has a small, traditional client/server version, and a larger enterprise-level Web solution based on Microsoft Windows technology. It doesn't support Unix. Deploying RazzaDS is relatively easy; however, it potentially requires the critical step of cleansing and integrating existing reference data sources in order to load the data into RazzaDS. The effort required to achieve this step will depend on the quality and cohesion of existing data, and I think will define the effort and cost of deploying RazzaDS.

Building Core (Data) Competency

Overall, I see RazzaDS as a conceptually simple, focused, and common-sense product — which is a compliment, not a critique. RazzaDS focuses on and has the potential to vastly improve upon a core competency, if you will, of application databases: that of effectively managing reference data. This focus, in turn, improves the ability of IT to serve facts and analytic data to business users and directly contributes to the organization's overall data quality. Either of these benefits alone could make RazzaDS a worthwhile investment.


Razza Dimension Server 5.0
Razza Solutions
7209 Ellaview Lane
Austin, TX 78759

Minimum Requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows NT/2000, 95/98/ME
  • Database compatibility: Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server
  • Hardware: Pentium processor, 20MB disk space, 64MB RAM.

Pricing: $2,500 per named user; server prices start at $59,500.

Using a solution such as RazzaDS isn't without risks, notably the possibility of disruption to existing applications caused by introducing an off-the-shelf reference data management solution to an existing stable of applications. It's also somewhat risky to rely on Razza's survival as a company and product because Razza is essentially a small, privately held, single-product company. While organic growth is possible, it may also be an unaffordable luxury for Razza, particularly if large vendors in the database, data quality, data warehousing, and business intelligence space decide to grow or acquire similar capabilities.

That said, I have no hesitation in recommending serious consideration of RazzaDS for your reference and dimensional data management. RazzaDS is an elegant, effective, and user-friendly solution, and, if positioned correctly within the enterprise, is likely to bring a significant return on investment through enhanced data quality and manageability.

Rajan Chandras is a principal consultant with the New York offices of CSC Consulting ( The opinions expressed here are his own.

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