Business Intelligence Best Practices -

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2007 Best Practices Award Winner: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
LLNL's data warehouse is now a portal-based Java and Oracle RDBMS application considered highly successful in delivering accurate and timely information.

Category: Radical BI

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a premier applied science laboratory, is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration within the Department of Energy, and is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and reliable through application of advances in science and technology.

First developed in 1985, LLNL’s data warehouse is now a portal-based Java and Oracle RDBMS application considered highly successful in delivering accurate and timely information. While data warehouses are now commonplace, four of our approaches and innovations combine to give our users uncommon capability and control in addressing their information needs.

A Modular Architecture has been employed and continually leveraged for flexibility, control, and self-sufficiency. The Enterprise Reporting Workbench (ERW) interface allows users to create formats and filters and link them to create reports. Our modularity has expanded to support interaction with commercial packages, which produced the “workbench” reference in the name—a place where tools can coexist. The ERW home page is a comprehensive workbench of enterprise reporting tools.

Virtual Dimensions:  Dimension data is separate from fact data, which allows ERW users and application a great deal of flexibility.  If fact data contains the base attribute (e.g. account or employee number), then all relevant dimension data are dynamically available even though absent from the reporting view.  Users can easily create, maintain and use their own virtual dimensions (URAs) or use a wealth of institutionally maintained dimensions (IRAs).  This dimensioning architecture also allows for rapid deployment of whole new dimension sets without programming or creating new view structures. 

Desktop Integration: Over the years, common desktop skills and capabilities have become integral in today’s retrieval and analytical processes. When we found some users were re-keying data from paper reports into other desktop processes, we preserved and staged their report files for FTP download. Today, all output is electronic and available in full-featured xls, pdf, tsv and html. Users can also integrate post-retrieval analysis with report processing within the ERW prior to distribution. The Desktop Data Integrator (DDI) allows users to create a workbook once and upload it to ERW where its data sheets, pivots, and summary sheets will be refreshed automatically.

Openness and Enabling: Our philosophy has been to encourage, recognize, and support alternative approaches. When it became apparent users wanted to include report data in further processing activities, we added tsv and csv output formats, and created a web repository to stage all reports. When some users and organizations began running global ERW reports for download into local systems, we created the Enterprise Data Depot (EDD), a set of Oracle views cloned from the DW reporting data sources with access controls.