Tales from the Trenches – Data Warehousing Falls


(Tales from the Trenches describes my varied experiences with data warehousing and business intelligence over the years. It’s not technical.)

This is the story of how I fell into Data Warehousing.

I was nearing the end of my doctoral degree, which was in Geochemistry. My previous education was in the Geo-Sciences as well.

My advisor, someone I greatly admired, said to me, one day –

Richard: “Shubho, I don’t think you should pursue academics any further.”

“Why, Richard?”, I asked, a little hurt.

Richard: “Because your tastes are too expensive for an academic.”

My credit card bills were up to my neck by this point.

I took his advice to heart and started looking for a non-academic thing to do.

Coming down the stairs at the Geoscience dept. at Purdue, I met a guy who said he was quitting academics. “I want to do Data Warehousing,” he said. “It’s hot”.

I picked up “Building a Data Warehouse” by Bill Inmon. Those days, Amazon sold books.

Two things struck me.

One, the idea of gathering data across the enterprise into a centralized store for reporting and analytics would offer any organization unfathomable value.

Two, I would not need to be on an oil rig off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico if I pursued this.

The only regret I had in leaving my studies was when I entered the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and saw the supposedly martian meteorites, Shergotty and Zagami, which I had worked on as part of my thesis, as well as the gorgeous mineral specimens.

Mineralogy was my first love, after all.

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