Unveiling the Definition of Data Warehouses: Looking into Bill Inmon’s Magicians Top Hat

12 Apr 2023 | Blog, What is


AgileData mission is to reduce the complexity of managing data.

In the modern data world there are many capability categories, each with their own specialised terms, technologies and three letter acronyms, We want managing data to be simply magical, so we share articles that explain these terms as simply as we know how.

In this article we describe what is a Data Warehouse.

A data warehouse, as defined by Bill Inmon, is a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant, and non-volatile collection of data that supports decision-making processes. It helps data magicians, like business and data analysts, make better-informed decisions, save time, enhance collaboration, and improve business intelligence. 

A Data Warehouse is a set of patterns, it is not a set of technologies (but you will need technologies to build it).

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Hello, data magicians!

Have you ever wondered how to make sense of the massive amount of data generated in today’s business world?

As the talented data and business analysts you are, you’ve probably heard of data warehouses, but do you know what they really are and how they work?

The term Data Warehouse was coined by Bill Inmon

Today, we’ll delve into the world of data warehouses, guided by none other than Bill Inmon, the Father of Data Warehousing himself.

The magic begins with a simple question: what is a data warehouse?

According to Bill Inmon, a data warehouse is “a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant, and non-volatile collection of data in support of management’s decision-making process.” Now, let’s break that down into more digestible pieces and explore the four essential characteristics of a data warehouse.


A data warehouse focuses on specific subjects, such as sales, finance, or human resources.

It’s like a library with dedicated sections where each book covers a particular subject. Instead of having data scattered all over the place, a data warehouse groups and organises data based on the topics they relate to. This structure allows you, the data magician, to conjure up meaningful insights on subjects that matter most to your organisation.


Integration is key when it comes to data warehousing.

The data warehouse takes data from multiple, disparate sources and combines them into a unified format. Imagine you’re trying to create a potion with ingredients from various vendors, each with their own labelling system. It would be a mess, right? Thankfully, data warehouses clean and integrate data so it’s easy to use and understand, allowing you to focus on brewing your data magic.


One of the most crucial aspects of a data warehouse is its ability to store data over time.

This means that you can study the past, present, and potentially predict the future. Suppose you want to compare your company’s sales performance from five years ago with today’s figures. A data warehouse has got you covered, enabling you to analyse trends and make informed decisions about the future. It’s like having a crystal ball that reveals the secrets of your organisation’s data history.


Last, but definitely not least, a data warehouse is non-volatile.

Once data enters the warehouse, it remains unchanged and doesn’t vanish into thin air. This stability means you can always rely on the data warehouse to provide consistent, accurate information. Your analytical spells and incantations will be all the more powerful thanks to the unchanging nature of the data within a data warehouse.

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, let’s take a moment to appreciate the benefits of data warehouses. For data magicians like yourselves, a data warehouse is a treasure trove of insights, enabling you to:

  • Make better-informed decisions with historical and current data at your fingertips;
  • Save time and effort by having clean, integrated data ready for analysis;
  • Enhance collaboration between departments with a centralised data hub;
  • Improve business intelligence and reporting capabilities

A data warehouse truly is a magical tool, but like any good sorcerer, you need a wand – or in this case, the right technology.

There are many technology capabilties you need to build a data warehouse solutions, and for each of these capabilities there are may technology options available, each with its own unique set of features, costs and benefits.

In conclusion, data warehouses are powerful patterns that help data magicians like you make sense of the vast amounts of data generated in today’s business world. With a solid understanding of Bill Inmon’s definition and the four essential characteristics of a data warehouse, you can now harness the full potential of these powerful capabilities. 

Data Warehouse vs Data Warehouse Technology vs Cloud Analytics Database

A Data Warehouse, as defined by Bill Inmon, is a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant, and non-volatile collection of data that supports decision-making processes.

Data Warehouse Technology refers to the software, hardware, and tools used to build, manage, and maintain a data warehouse. This includes elements such as data integration tools, data storage systems, metadata management systems, and query and reporting tools. .

Cloud Analytics Databases, on the other hand, are database management systems specifically designed for analytical processing and hosted on cloud computing platforms. They offer features such as flexibility, scalability, high performance, cost-effectiveness, and collaboration, making them an attractive choice for handling large-scale analytics tasks.

Keep making data simply magical

AgileData.io provides both the architectural patterns and the technology capabilities required for a data warehouse within the AgileData product, all without you having to do a thing.

The AgileData Product ensures you data is subject orientated, integrated, time variant and non-volatile by default.  In fact these patterns are magically embedded under the covers and you can’t remove them even if you wanted to.  Thats how strongly we feel about the value of these patterns.


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