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4 Key Characteristics of a Data Warehouse

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A data warehouse is a large store of data and a set of processes collected into a database for the primary purpose of helping a business analyze data to make decisions. Typically, a data warehouse is used to connect and analyze heterogeneous sources of business data, becoming the centerpiece of the business intelligence (BI) system built for data analysis and reporting. 


Data warehouses are characterized by being: 

  1. Subject-oriented: A data warehouse typically provides information on a topic (such as a sales inventory or supply chain) rather than company operations. 
  2. Time-variant: Time variant keys (e.g., for the date, month, time) are typically present.
  3. Integrated: A data warehouse combines data from various sources. These may include a cloud, relational databases, flat files, structured and semi-structured data, metadata, and master data. The sources are combined in a manner that’s consistent, relatable, and ideally certifiable, providing a business with confidence in the data’s quality.
  4. Persistent and non-volatile: Prior data isn’t deleted when new data is added. Historical data is preserved for comparisons, trends, and analytics.


Data warehouse components are engineered for speed. When results are accessible quickly, they can be analyzed on the fly.

Key attributes of most data warehouses are that they: 

  • Are often deployed as a central database for the enterprise. 
  • Provide ETL (extract, transform, load) data processing capability. The ETL process requires a staging area where data is transformed before it enters the data warehouse for analysis. NOTE:  An alternate pattern could exist wherein data can be transformed upstream in data lakes as well and fed into a data warehouse
  • Store metadata.
  • Include access to reporting tools. BI tools such as PowerBI, QlikSense, and Tableau may connect to the Warehouse through built-for-purpose drivers or they may leverage SQL for queriesalbeit it is important to guard against unbounded queries that could impact performance. Often, there are a set of certified reports that are frequently and automatically refreshed. 


A cloud data warehouse can help you break down data silos and get faster time to value to support your organization’s growth initiatives. Learn how Faction can help you get more from your data warehouse and analytics solutions.  


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