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flexible database schema patterns


I have a lot of data for a specific 'thing' from lots of disparate data sources and I'd like to integrate them. I dont want to have to deal with how each source models the domain in question as it is a very complex domain. To have a traditional 3NF denormalised database would require having to remodel the schema every time i wanted to incorporate a new data source and that isn't feasible. I'm thinking of having some sort of data warehouse approach and a reverse star schema with the 'thing' at the middle as the fact and the data from each different source as a dimension so they can keep their own idiosyncracies regarding the domain. It would be a reverse star in the sense that the thing in the middle would have a primary key and the dimensions would have foreign keys which link to the relevant row in the central 'fact' table.

I was wondering if any you esteemed database experts had any comments and/or were aware of any database 'design patterns' or approaches for managing this sort of scenario

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If we describe what you want to do as simply throw all your data into a huge box, and add to it from time to time,without regard to structure or relationships, then we could do that with a regular Data Warehouse.

This would put us in the Bill Inmon school of thought.

Then if we look ahead you are going to want to take data out of this huge box.

Probably a lot of it will not be related to anything so that puts us into the Ralph Kimball approach, which is to have dedicated Data Marts for specific areas.

So if we combine the two, then we have the answer to your problem.

I have drafted a 'Father of all Data Warehouses' on this page of my Database Answers Web Site :-

Maybe I will change it because Bill Inmon is often referred to as 'The Father of Data Warehouses'.;-0)

On a practical level, you could start with a Generic Data Warehouse in line with my design and then  add a couple Data Marts for specific Enquires or categories of data in the Data Warehouse.

I would be very interested in knowing how you get on.


Barry Williams
andiejeAuthor Commented:
Thanks Barry. I will look into this. How can i let you know how i a getting on. Shall i leave this post open?
Hi andieje

You can email me at barryw@databaseanswers.org,


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