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Data Warehouses

West Virginia Network Rebuilds Data Warehouse in 90 Days

A service center that delivers multiple computing facilities and network communications for most of the colleges and universities in West Virginia has rebuilt a data warehouse and dozens of reports from scratch after determining that the previous model was flawed in design and implementation. The rebuild took about three months, according to West Virginia Network (WVNET). The work included reports on a P-20 data system that answers "strategic questions" posed by various state agencies related to education from pre-natal through post-secondary.

The network used software from WhereScape, a company that provides an integrated development environment specifically for building, deploying, managing and reworking data warehouses.

The saga began in 2010 when WVNET received federal funds to create a data warehouse to monitor the effectiveness of the P-20 program. The network hired outside consultants to build the warehouse, load the data and put a business intelligence tool in place. When funding ran out after 18 months, WVNET took over the project and determined that the system would need to be rebuilt.

The organization put a two-person team in place; one had Oracle experience and the other was new to data warehousing. At the same time the network sought technology to expedite the work. That's when it adopted WhereScape RED.

"We recognized the software contained the capabilities necessary for us to quickly rebuild our data warehouse without the cost and complexity of using an army of people," said Dana Keith, WVNET's manager of applications and data warehousing, in a statement. "Everything we've done with WhereScape RED could be done manually in Oracle, but WhereScape's metadata management capabilities and user interface make development dramatically faster — to the point where the cost of rebuilding something is trivial and an iterative and agile project approach is not only possible, but achievable even with just two team members."

Over the next 90 days the developer on the project used the program to read the code, identify the logic, uncover bugs and perform the revamp, including rewriting 50 reports. The work included importing of data from student and financial source systems, applying processing rules to the data and publishing the results to Oracle data marts.

WVNET intends to use the same development tools and software to customize solutions for 21 member organizations, including two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

"Our project approach was to build deployable data marts with agility and rapidly get them in front of users in a 'collaborate and iterate' approach. We have done that with great success," noted Keith.

Other users of software from WhereScape include Cornell University and the University of Washington, among others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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