Guide to Operational Data Store

For businesses to run more effectively, they currently depend more on the availability of data for their daily operations. Using data, entrepreneurs measure their past performance, compare it with the current performance and use these two experiences as a base for future performances. 

Without real-time data processing systems, businesses face the difficult task of finding appropriate data stores. As a result, they use several data aspects from different information systems. Using Operational Data Store (ODS), businesses eliminate the need to use information from multiple systems and retrieve all data from a central store in real-time. 

Understanding the Operational Data Store (ODS)

A few years ago, businesses would gather information from multiple sources and analyze it to their advantage. This was a complex method that sometimes never served its intended purpose of providing important data to its end-users to help them take relevant actions on valuable business metrics. 

The need for a more centralized system emerged and developers created the operational data store to help provide that solution. ODS can be defined as a central repository that provides data storage once it’s collected from multiple sources. 

The data collected have different file formats but once it’s consolidated into the warehouse, ODS merges it into one file format and avails it for real-time accessibility anytime the business needs it for its decision-making protocols. 

How an Operational Data Store works

When extracting large volumes of data from various sources, the ETL data path extracts, transforms, and loads multisource data into a large warehouse. The warehouse is the data destination that holds all data in its raw status. 

The challenge emanates when a company needs to process that data because it must first extract it from the warehouse, which already contains a mixture of old and new unsorted data. Thankfully, during the software development process, developers keep looking for solutions to every problem and they created a solution for this challenge.

To help eliminate the problem of moving data to and from the warehouse, the ODS works almost like an ETL pipeline but the main difference is that it moves and stores the data as it is. It doesn’t transform the data but instead avails it to the intelligence tools the business uses for information analysis. 

At other times, the business may choose to use ODS and ETL interchangeably and move data to business intelligence tools using ODS and then move it to the warehouse using ETL. 

Circumstances where a business can use Operational Data Store

ETL and most other methods are limited in several ways and this gives them the option to use ODS in their data extraction, movement, and storage processes. 

Data consolidation: An ODS system might not have the merits of a data lake, a large warehouse, or other major repositories. Nevertheless, it is light and super-fast and can consolidate information from multiple sources, systems, and locations and move it to one repository. 

Need for Real-time data accessibility: An ODS system holds the most recent data and once it is fed with the right business intelligence tools, a business can carry out its tasks like logistics management, order follow-up, and customer behavior in real-time. 

Seamless integration of business systems: The ODS system helps integrate several business systems into one and every time there is a data change in one system, ODS seamlessly triggers an action in another system so that they all correspond. 

Easy troubleshooting of errors: Because ODS triggers systems to correspond with each other, it provides an easy way to manage errors once they occur. If, for example, an order was erroneously queued by someone in the e-commerce department, ODS will create an order that corresponds with the logistics department. 

Once the error is detected, ODS can allow the two data versions to be put on hold for easy comparison and correction. 

Qualifications of an Operational Data Store

An ODS system does not limit the amount of data sources that can be integrated into it. However, for the data to qualify as an ODS, it must meet the following qualifications. 

It must be subject-oriented: Its function ability is tagged to requirements set by the company to help meet its unique need. 

It must be integrated: Using the business data control policies, the system must be able to collect data from multiple sources and clean it, change it into one file format and load it into the central repository. 

All data must be current: An ODS will only qualify if its data content is the most current and covers the most recent business transactions. 

Its data must be granular: All data must store in small, detailed portions that can easily be retrieved and processed. 

Advantages of using an Operational Data Store system

An ODS moves data from multiple sources into one place and allows real-time retrieval. It provides several benefits to users.

It provides up-to-date information on various current business transactions. For example, if a client places an order online, the sales team can effectively track the order and diagnose an error that might occur. 

It can help save on costs that would have been incurred if the order was allowed to be processed and delivered to the client while it contained errors. 

Unlike with other systems that provide data from multiple sources separately, the ODS consolidates its data into one place and converts all file formats into a single format. 

All data found in an ODS is current and the system can be programmed to communicate time-sensitive information in real-time. For example, if a client overdraws from their account, the control team can get the information immediately and act. 

Unlike a data warehouse that works with complex and large data volumes, an ODS is programmed to work with smaller data quantities which helps business owners to perform simple business queries that are easier to understand and process. Businesses can also use an ODS as an interim depository between multiple data sources and the warehouse. 

Because the ODS is set to provide data consolidated from multiple sources, businesses can get a holistic view of an entire operation process.