The Data Model Resource Book: A Library of Universal Data Models for All Enterprisesby Len Silverston
A quick and reliable way to build proven databases for core business functions
Industry experts raved about The Data Model Resource Book when it was first published in March 1997 because it provided a simple, cost-effective way to design databases for core business functions. Len Silverston has now revised and updated the hugely successful First Edition, while… See more details below
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A quick and reliable way to build proven databases for core business functions
Industry experts raved about The Data Model Resource Book when it was first published in March 1997 because it provided a simple, cost-effective way to design databases for core business functions. Len Silverston has now revised and updated the hugely successful First Edition, while adding a companion volume to take care of more specific requirements of different businesses. Each volume is accompanied by a CD-ROM, which is sold separately. Each CD-ROM provides powerful design templates discussed in the books in a ready-to-use electronic format, allowing companies and individuals to develop the databases they need at a fraction of the cost and a third of the time it would take to build them from scratch.
Updating the data models from the First Edition CD-ROM, this resource allows database developers to quickly load a core set of data models and customize them to support a wide range of business functions.
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Read an Excerpt
1. Introduction...Why Is There a Need for This Book?
On many data modeling consulting engagements, clients have asked the same question: "Where can we find a book showing a standard way to model this structure? Surely, we are not the first company to model company and address information."
Many organizations develop their data models or data warehouse designs with very few outside reference materials. A large cost is associated with either hiring experienced consultants or using internal staff to develop this critical component of the system design. Often there is no objective reference material that the company can use to validate its data models or data warehouse designs or to seek alternate options for database structures.
Based on numerous experiences of using template or "universal data models" and customizing them for various enterprises, we have concluded that usually more than 50 percent of the data model (corporate or logical) consists of common constructs that are applicable to most organizations, another 25 percent of the model is industry specific (these models are covered in The Data Model Resource Book, Volume 2), and, on average, about 25 percent of the enterprise's data model is specific to that organization. This means that most data modeling efforts are recreating data modeling constructs that have already been created many times before in other organizations.
With this in mind, doesn't it make sense to have a source to use to get a head start on your data model so that you are not "reinventing the wheel" each time a company develops a new system? Organizations can save time and money by leveraging the use of common or universal database structures. Even if a company has data models from its previous systems development efforts, it is very helpful to be able to check the designs against an unbiased source in order to evaluate alternative options.
Although a large number of publications describe how to model data, very few compilations of data model examples exist in published form. This book provides both a starting point and a source for validating data models. It can help data modelers minimize design costs and develop more effective and integrated database designs.
Who Can Benefit from Reading This Book?
This book can assist many different systems development professionals: data administrators, data modelers, data analysts, database designers, data warehouse administrators, data warehouse designers, data stewards, corporate data integrators, or anyone who needs to analyze or integrate data structures. Systems professionals can use the database constructs contained in this book to increase their productivity and provide a checkpoint for quality designs.
The Need for Universal Data Models
Data modeling first gained recognition in Dr. Peter Chen's 1976 article, "EntityRelationship Modeling," which illustrated his newfound approach. Since then data modeling has become the standard approach used to design databases. By properly modeling an organization's data, the database designer can eliminate data redundancies, which are a key source of inaccurate information and ineffective systems.
Currently, data modeling is a well-known and accepted method for designing effective databases. Therefore, there is a great need to provide standard templates to enterprises (the term "enterprise" is used to describe the organizations for whom the models and systems axe being developed) so that they can refine and customize their data models instead of starting from scratch.
Although many standards exist for data modeling, there is a great need to take data modeling to the next step: providing accessibility to libraries of common data model examples in a convenient format. Many different organizations and industries should be able to use these libraries of data. models. Such universal data models can help save tremendous amounts of time and money spent in the systems development process.
A Holistic Approach to Systems
One of the greatest challenges to building effective systems is integration. Systems are often built separately to meet particular needs at different times within each enterprise. Enterprises need to build many systems: contact management systems, sales order systems, project management systems, accounting systems, budgeting systems, purchase order systems, and human resources systems, to name a few.
When systems are built separately, separate pools of information are created for each system. Many of these systems will use common information about organizations, people, geographic locations, or products. This means that each separate system will build and use its own source of information. A huge problem with this approach is that it is almost impossible to maintain accurate, upto-date information because the same type of information is stored redundantly across many systems. In large organizations, it is not uncommon to see information about customers, employees, organizations, products, and locations stored in dozens of separate systems. How is it possible to know which source of information is the most current or most accurate?
Another disadvantage of building separate systems with non-integrated data structures is that the enterprise (the organization for which the models and systems are being designed) does not have the benefit of viewing integrated information. Being able to see a complete profile for a person, organization, product, or inventory item is an enormous benefit. Imagine systems that are built so that each part of an organization knows what the other part is doing, where the customer service, sales, purchasing, and accounting departments of an organization have integrated information about the people, organizations, and products of the enterprise. This integration can make a big different in the service, sales, and performance of an enterprise.
Another way to approach systems development is from a perspective that an enterprise's systems are connected and, in fact, may be viewed as one interconnected system. From this perspective, there are tremendous benefits to building an enterprise-wide framework so that systems can work together more effectively. Part of this framework should include a corporate data model (i.e., an enterprise data model) that can assist the enterprise in maintaining one of its most valued assets: information. Because each system or application may use similar information about people, organizations, products, and geographic locations, a shared information architecture can be invaluable.
The IS (information systems) industry has recognized the need for integrated designs, prompting the many corporate data modeling and corporate data warehouse modeling efforts. Unfortunately, the IS track record for building and implementing corporate data models has been very poor. Enterprises have realized that it takes a tremendous amount of time and resources to build these models.
Enter CASE (Computer-Aided Systems Engineering) tools. These tools claimed tremendous productivity and time savings when used for corporatewide modeling efforts. While these tools help document the models, unfortunately they do not reduce the time needed to develop good corporate models.
Many enterprises have stopped building corporate data models because of their time constraints. They are looking at the track record of corporate data modeling and CASE efforts and choosing other alternatives.
Enter data warehousing. Finally, here is an approach to provide executives with the management information they need, without all the time and expense of corporate data modeling. Enterprises are now extracting the various pieces of information they need directly from their operational systems in order to build decision support systems.
The only problem with this approach is that the same problem exists! First of all, the information in the data warehouse may be extracted from several different, inconsistent sources. If there are multiple places where customer information is being held, which system represents the most accurate source of information?
According to data warehousing principles, the transformation routines are responsible for consolidating and cleansing the data. If different departments have different needs for various pieces of data, then each department may build its own extracts from the operational systems. One department may transform the information using one algorithm; a different department may use another algorithm. For example, if two departments are extracting sales analysis information, one department may use the order entry system as its source and another department may use the invoicing system as its source. A high-level manager may view information from both data warehouses and see inconsistent results, thus questioning the credibility of all the information. This type of scenario actually compounds the initial problem of many data sources by creating even more slices of data.
This is not to say that data warehousing is the wrong approach. It is an ingenious approach that can be used extremely effectively not only to create decision support systems but also to build a migration path to an integrated environment. The data warehouse transformation process helps to identify where there are data inconsistencies and data redundancies in the operational environment. It is imperative, though, to use this information to migrate to more integrated data structures.
The answer is still to build integrated data structures in order to provide good, accurate information. The only effective way to do this is to understand how the data within an enterprise and the relationships fit together and to be able to see the data in a holistic integrated manner. It is necessary to understand the nature of the data in order to build effective systems. Instead of saying that corporate data modeling or CASE is the wrong approach because it just takes too long, the IS community needs to find a way to make it work effectively. By building common, reusable data structures, the IS community can produce quicker results and move toward integrated structures in both the transaction processing and data warehouse environments...
What People are saying about this
Van Scott, President, Sonata Consulting, Inc.
"Len Silverston has produced an enormously useful two-volume compendium of generic (but not too generic) data models for an extensive set of typical enterprise subject areas, and for various industries that any data modeler will likely encounter at some point in his or her career. The material is clearly written, well organized, and goes below the obvious to some of the more perverse and difficult information requirements in an enterprise. This is an invaluable resource for doing one's homework before diving into any modeling session; if you can't find it here, there is certainly a very similar template that you can use for just about any situation with which you might be faced."
William G. Smith, President, William G. Smith & Associates
"In today's fast-paced e-oriented world, it is no longer acceptable to bury business constraints in hard-to-change data structures. Data architects must comprehend complex requirements and recast them into data architecture with vision for unforeseen futures. Len's models provide an outstanding starting point for novice and advanced data architects for delivering flexible data models. These models position an organization for the business rule age. Their proper implementation and customization allows the organization to externalize and manage business policies and rules so that the business can proactively change itself. In this way, the data architecture, based on Len's models and procedures for customizing them, becomes by design the foundation for business change."
Barbara von Halle, Founder, Knowledge Partners, Inc., Co-author of Handbook of Relational Database Design
"These books are long overdue and a must for any company implementing universal data models. They contain practical insights and templates for implementing universal data models and can help all enterprises regardless of their level of experience. Most books address the needs for data models but give little in the way of practical advice. These books fill in that void and should be utilized by all enterprises."
Ron Powell, Publisher, DM Review
"Businesses across the world are demanding quality systems that are built faster by IT shops. This book provides a foundation of patterns for data modelers to expand upon and can cut days, if not weeks, off a project schedule. I have found The Data Model Resource Book, Revised Edition, Volume 1 valuable as a resource for my modeling efforts at L.L. Bean, Inc. and feel it is an essential component in any modelers toolkit."
Susan T. Oliver, Enterprise Data Architect, L.L. Bean, Inc.
"I was first introduced to The Data Model Resource Book three years ago when I was hired by a firm who wanted an enterprise data model. This company did not believe the dictum that 'all companies are basically the same;' they felt they were somehow unique. After a little analysis with Len Silverston's help, we found that we were actually quite a bit the same: we had customers, accounts, employees, benefits, and all the things you'd find in any corporation. All we had to do was adapt the product component of Len's book and we were ready to move ahead with a great framework for all of our data. A CD-ROM that accompanies the book provided scripts to build the model in Oracle very quickly. We then began mapping all of our detailed data types to the enterprise model and, voila, we could find a place for all of those various spellings and misspellings of Account Number.
Volume 2 of this revised edition provided even more exciting features: models of industry-specific data. I began to see interesting patterns that permeated this volume. For example, a reservation is a reservation, whether you're an airline, a restaurant, or a hotel. (We even have something similar in the oil industrythe allocation.)
Another concept from the book that has changed my thinking and vocabulary is the word "party." I recently managed a project in which an employee could also function as a customer and as an on-line computer user. The team was in disagreement regarding a name for this entity; but after checking The Data Model Resource Book, we realized that here we had a party playing three roles.
Whether your job is to jump-start a data warehouse project or borrow ideas for any subject area in your next operational database, I highly recommend The Data Model Resource Books, Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2 as your bible for design."
Ted Kowalski, Equilon Enterprises LLC, Author of Opening Doors: A Facilitator's Handbook
Meet the Author
LEN SILVERSTON (firstname.lastname@example.org) is founder and owner of Universal Data Models, LLC (www.universaldatamodels.com), a Colorado-based firm providing consulting and training for helping enterprises customize and implement "universal data models" and develop holistic, integrated systems. Mr. Silverston has over 20 years' experience in delivering data integration, database and data warehouse solutions to organizations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you are looking to save time and money developing and implementing databases, look no further than this book. The Data Model Resource Book by Len Silverston is an excellent roadmap for various data models and has served as a valuable reference for me in numerous projects. I will continue to take advantage of this resource in the future. These data models are both practical and efficient and work in a real-world environment. Len has over 20 years of experience and knowledge that is passed along in this book. I highly recommend The Data Model Resource Book to anyone.