CAUSE/EFFECT

This article was published in CAUSE/EFFECT journal, Volume 22 Number 1 1999. The copyright is by EDUCAUSE and the author(s). See http://www.educause.edu/copyright for additional copyright information.

Recommended Reading

 


Data Warehousing in the Real World

by Sam Anahory and Dennis Murray
(Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1997, 352 pages, $49.95)
ISBN 0-201-17519-3
Reviewed by John Porter

Sam Anahory and Dennis Murray are two consultants who have been "around the track" in building data warehouses. I recommend this book to anyone considering a large (greater than 20 GB) data warehouse across the enterprise. The authors wrote their book in a "cookbook" format, full of great ideas and techniques to solve problems faced by information engineers, especially those directed toward achieving system efficiency. Anahory and Murray cover all phases of the warehouse project from "what is it?" to "what's the plan?" to "what are the requirements?" The authors go on to cover the system architecture and design, selecting and configuring hardware, deploying the warehouse, and administering access and security.

Here's what I liked most. First, Anahory and Murray understand that smart organizations tackle an enterprise data warehouse before building smaller, more focused data marts. To address management's frustration about waiting for an enterprise solution, the authors propose a development process emphasizing incremental deliverables. Second, Anahory and Murray recognize that the architecture and requirements of data warehouses are different from operational systems. Even though their book is written for the technical staff, they never lose this focus. This is evident in their recognition that Star and Snowflake Schemas don't quite work the way we think. To solve this dilemma, the authors propose a modeling variant they call the Starflake Schema. Last, I liked the many guidelines and project deliverables Anahory and Murray share throughout the book (the guidelines appear in useful "story boxes"). The authors summarize the guidelines and deliverables in the appendices at the back of the book. For my money, the book delivers a lot!

What I didn't like is the book's length: it is insufficient, given the broad scope. Anyone building a data warehouse needs to consult additional references in more depth. I suggest reading Bill Inmon's Building the Data Warehouse, Ralph Kimball's The Data Warehouse Toolkit, and Barry Devlin's Data Warehouse: From Architecture to Implementation. Anahory and Murray also offer the reader lots of estimates for building the warehouse. Sometimes estimates are helpful, but your experience will be different.

Be advised that this book is quite technical, clearly written for physical architects, systems engineers or programmers, database administrators, or systems managers. But, if that's you, this book is a handy reference.

Reviewer John Porter is Data Administrator and sponsor of Arizona State University's data warehouse, one of the first enterprise data warehouses in higher education.

 


New Thinking on Higher Education: Creating a Context for Change
Edited by Joel Myerson
(Anker Publishing, 1998, $34.95, 216 pages)
ISBN 1-882982-23-1
Reviewed by Ed Coate

How should higher education leaders guide their institutions through these exciting times of change and establish a proper course for the next century? Nine participants in the 1996 Symposium of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education considered these questions and present in this book insights and models for strategic thinking broadly related to the economics of higher education: institutional mission, particularly as it affects positive change and accountability, and technology.

As higher education institutions are being forced to re-envision themselves and operate more like businesses, three participants look at higher education's nature as a nonprofit sector and how that limits the usefulness of the business-and-industry models. A new model is proposed, and its validity is tested by surveys and case studies.

To enable institutions to respond to criticism and the economic imperative to change, four more participants look at mission, accountability, and change. They explore frameworks for thinking about change, a specific university's response to change, a university system's effort to implement a performance management system, and the usefulness of benchmarking to set standards of achievement for performance.

The final two participants speak to the challenge to higher education posed by dramatic changes in information technology. What should the library of the future look like? Is the university really just an information provider?

This collection of articles explores how higher education is changing and the ways these nine participants suggest to manage those changes and take advantage of the opportunities they present. It is a useful addition to the literature of higher education transformation.

Reviewer Ed Coate is Vice President for Business Services and Administration at MiraCosta College.

 


The Mirage of Continuity: Reconfiguring Academic Information Resources for the 21st Century
Edited by Brian L. Hawkins and Patricia Battin
(Council on Library and Information Resources & Association of American Universities, 1998, $25.00, 301 pages)
ISBN: 1-887334-59-9
(available from CLIR; see http://www.clir.org/whatsnew.html#mirage)
Reviewed by Michael Keller

With its usual perspicacity, the Council on Library and Information Resources has stimulated this collection of nineteen essays by such luminaries as Patricia Battin, Brian Hawkins, Donald Kennedy, Douglas Greenberg, Donald Waters, Michael Lesk, and Deanna Marcum, among others. The expressed theme of the collection is one of concern for the nature of colleges and universities as their leaders attempt (or fail) to cope with what are asserted to be "fundamental changes that must be made in the institutional infrastructure to manage the powers of the technology."

Waters and Lesk present in their essays what amounts to an agenda for applications development to realize the promises. Throughout, there resonates the need for effective leadership as implied in Marcum's excellent digest of "Vision 2010" and expressed in Battin's "Leadership in a Transformational Age." These are excellent, thought-provoking contributions. Hawkins' "Unsustainability" essay is a puzzler; it is reductionist in its argument, bound by peculiar and constrained views of "traditional" libraries, and yet optimistic on the benefits of information technology for scholars and their libraries.

A few observations strike me. First, circumstances of access to personal and institutional technology have dramatically changed since the essayists began their work. One wonders what notions might be put forth now that Internet2 is a reality, very good and very inexpensive personal computers are available, and the battle for domination in scholarly communication is truly joined.

Second, though these essayists refer to fundamental changes in the nature of colleges, universities, and their libraries, one might assert that the core missions of residential education, of developing new knowledge and accounting for support of those missions by academic libraries for present and future generations, persist unsullied.

Third, given the experience we have all had in predicting the future, readers must expect that the changes, technicalities, agendas for research and development, and requirements pondered in this volume are but stakes in a temporal landscape of more rapid and less accurately foreseen alterations.

The thoughts of Kennedy and Battin on leadership--individual, institutional, and organizational--as well as the iterative realization of the Council's mission "to consider how information organizations will have to cope with the change" in Marcum's essay are likely to be regarded as the messages both of hope and of longer term significance in the book. These authors point to the constant and ongoing transformation necessary to create and renew high performance organizations.

Reviewer Michael A. Keller is University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, and publisher of HighWire Press at Stanford University.

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