N.Y. to train more on data warehouse

New York State Office of the State Comptroller

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The New York State Comptroller's Office plans to expand training and usage of a data warehouse created last fall to integrate information from payroll and accounting.

About 75 employees have been trained to extract and explore information, but only 15 are power users, said Tom Milner, project manager for the comptroller's office. The agency created the warehouse, populated with four years of accounting and payroll data, because users didn't have a good way to cull information from both systems. But now they are able to generate reports in minutes rather than weeks, he said.

The biggest problem is knowing what to look for in the data, Milner said. "You can learn how to use the tool itself in four hours, and that's if you're slow," he said. "Learning how to think about the data — that's a career."

Additional training will let more people take advantage of the system. The state plans to include data from other systems, such as the state's retirement system, but that depends on additional funding.

"As we start to get some answers from the warehouse, people come up with new questions we can't answer," Milner said. "So, as that occurs, we keep a list of data we don't have or data we feel is not reliable enough to [meet] our standards."

With high-level executive support, user input and money in hand, the data warehouse went live in October, 10 months after the comptroller's office decided it was the best option to view data from the two disparate systems.

State officials used IBM Global Services as the systems integrator. Informatica Corp., based in Redwood City, Calif., provided the main software: PowerCenter, which extracts and integrates the two systems' information into the data warehouse, and PowerAnalyzer, a business intelligence and analytics package. The data warehouse includes a Hewlett-Packard Co. Superdome UNIX server with 24G of RAM, an Oracle Corp. 9i database and IBM Corp.'s Enterprise Storage System with 4.6 terabytes of storage.


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