Simply put, a database is simply a collection of information that is organized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated. In one view, databases can be classified according to types of content: bibliographic, full-text, numeric, and images. In computing, databases are sometimes classified according to their organizational approach. The most prevalent approach is the relational database, a tabular database in which data is defined so that it can be reorganized and accessed in a number of different ways.
A data mart is a repository of data that is designed to serve a particular community of knowledge workers. Because data marts are optimized to look at data in a unique way, the design process tends to start with an analysis of user needs. A data mart tends to be tactical and aimed at meeting an immediate need. The goal of a data mart, however, is to meet the particular demands of a specific group of users within the organization, such as human resources or accounts receivables. Generally, an organization's data marts are subsets of the organization's data warehouse. Today, data virtualization software can be used to create virtual data marts, pulling data from disparate sources and combining it with other data as necessary to meet the needs of specific business users. A virtual data mart provides knowledge workers with access to the data they need while preventing data silos and giving the organization's data management team a level of control over the organization's data throughout its lifecycle.
A data warehouse tends to be a strategic but somewhat unfinished concept. A data warehouse is a central repository for all an organization's data. A data warehouse's design process tends to start with an analysis of what data already exists and how it can be collected and managed in such a way that it can be used later on.
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