Chapter 2Before You Dive In

Ralph wrote his first article on data warehousing for DBMS magazine in September 1995. At the time, he (and many of us who eventually formed the Kimball Group) had already focused on delivering information and analytic capabilities to support business decision making for nearly a decade; however, Ralph's first foray into publishing set the stage for the more than 150 articles that followed. It also helped Ralph catch the attention of Wiley Publishing—subsequently resulting in the sale of more than 400,000 Toolkit books. It all began with one article.

The articles selected for this chapter were chosen largely because of their historical significance. Even though many were written in the 1990s, the content is still amazingly relevant.

We kick off the chapter with an overview of Ralph's career prior to data warehousing, followed by his initial submission to DBMS magazine (which was subsequently renamed to Intelligent Enterprise); the other articles provide additional historical perspective, including Ralph's first description of the data warehouse bus architecture. The chapter continues with one of our favorite analogies about the uncanny parallels between managing a data warehouse/business intelligence (DW/BI) system and running a commercial restaurant. We'll refer back to this analogy elsewhere in the Reader. We then talk about how to approach some of data warehousing's most challenging problems in easy, incremental steps, and we finish with some hints ...

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