Information is Knowledge, Knowledge is power, power is energy over time, energy is mass times the speed of light squared... if something has mass then it has gravity therefore information has gravity...
The odd piece about this clearly false statement is that actually data does appear to have gravity in how it works in an organisation and in some ways it can be compared to the way planets form. Data Marts, ODS, ERP databases and indeed pretty much any data store in an organisation including weblogs tends to exhibit a basic characteristic.
People will add information to the data store they use most often even if it clearly isn't meant to go there because they find that, in the short term, easier than putting it somewhere else. Once the information is there however it becomes part of the reason that you can't migrate away from that store as more and more people come to rely on the store due to the increase in information within it.
So in other words a data store, any data store, attracts new information in direct relation to how much information is already in there. The more that is already there the more likely it is that people will tactically add new information to it. This includes duplicating information from other sources rather than accessing information from the original source or another existing data mart/store.
The problem with this is that tactical ODS solutions follow an exponential ballooning of information when architecturally they are not designed to cope with such volumes. The more information is added the more cost is added but its added only small piece by small piece so a death by a thousand cuts problem occurs. Thus your nice clean ODS on day 1 is your nightmare hybrid data warehouse, ODS, web site database in year 3. What this all means is that organisations need to do three things
- Recognise that integration technologies today significantly reduce the need for ODS approaches
- Have a clear and strong governance approach which minimises or eliminates data duplication
- Deliberately create a data star
The way to fight the data gravity problem is to build a data star. Just make sure you've planned your infrastructure scaling correctly though or it could collapse and create a data black hole...