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Operational data store vs. operational business intelligence

Find out the difference between an operational data store (ODS) and operational business intelligence (BI).

What's the difference between an operational data store (ODS) and operational business intelligence?

Definitions in the business intelligence (BI) world are difficult; they vary not only from person to person but from company to company. However, the good news is that an operational data store (ODS) has at least been around long enough to acquire some degree of stability.

Imagine that you have a number of operational systems (HR, Finance, Stock control etc.). If you pull the data from some of those and store it, still at the transactional level, in another database, that is essentially an operational data store.

You might think, "But I store transactional-level data in a database like that and we call it a data warehouse!" True. One distinguisher is that an operational data store tends to be more subject-specific than a data warehouse -- it may take data from one or a few of the operational systems. Another is that operational data stores are often fed in near real-time from the operational systems so they can provide much more immediate analysis than a data warehouse. This is another way of saying that operational data stores tend to be used for operational reporting -- near real-time reporting on data held in the operational systems.

Operational business intelligence is a more modern term and, at its simplest, refers to performing BI on the same class of data as is typically held in an operational data store. Of course, these terms can blur together -- after all, it can be argued that no matter how complex the analysis involved, BI is still just another form of reporting!

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