Can't find what you need?

A Full Guide to Data Warehouse Design

Data Warehouse Design Guide - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft has been rendering data warehousing services since 2005.

Data Warehouse Design: the Essence

A data warehouse provides for the integration, structuring and storing of business data for analytical querying and reporting. Data warehouse design is the first step in implementing a data warehouse solution, and it focuses on creating the architecture of a data warehouse system.

  • Project time: From 2 months.
  • Data warehouse planning steps:  Requirements engineering, discovery, data warehouse conceptualization, project planning, data warehouse technologies selection, system analysis and data governance design, data modeling and ETL design.
  • Cost: Starts from $40,000.
  • Team: A project manager, a business analyst, a data warehouse system analyst, a solution architect, a data engineer.

Data Warehouse Solution Architecture

A typical data warehouse architecture includes:

Data source layer

– internal and external data sources (ERP, CRM, sensor devices, social media, public databases, etc.) providing data fed into the data warehouse.

Staging area

– a temporary repository where records from data source systems undergo consolidation and processing before loading into the storage area. The staging area may be absent when data transformation goes in the target database (data warehouse/data marts).

Data storage layer

– hosting a data warehouse database permanent data storage that keeps slightly and highly structured data, and data marts – data warehouse subsets providing information for reporting and analysis for a company’s specific business line, department, or team.

Analytics and BI

– the data in the data warehouse database and data marts can be queried via OLAP tools, data mining tools, reporting and visualization tools.

Sample DWH solution architecture

Data Warehouse Design Plan

A data warehouse design process and its duration depend on:

  • Source system complexity and quality.
  • Data analytics complexity.
  • Data security complexity, etc.

Based on ScienceSoft's ample experience in designing and implementing data warehousing solutions, we list core steps needed to design a data warehouse solution.

Note: The timeframes below are highly approximate, as, for example, the architecture design project for an enterprise-level data warehouse may last up to 3-6 months and even more because of the project scale and specificity.


Data warehouse requirements engineering




Data warehouse conceptualization


Data warehouse design project planning


Data warehouse technologies selection


Data warehouse system analysis and data governance design


Data warehouse data modeling and ETL/ELT design

Note: The next steps would be data warehouse development and launch, which are not addressed within the framework of this guide. In case you are interested in the end-to-end data warehouse implementation process, explore our structured overview of the data warehouse implementation process.

Consider Professional Data Warehouse Design and Implementation Services

With 17 years in data warehousing services, ScienceSoft helps you design and implement a cost-effective data warehouse solution meeting your tactical and strategic business needs.

Data warehouse design

  • Data warehouse requirements engineering.
  • Data warehouse design project planning.
  • Data warehouse solution conceptualization and architecture design.
  • Data warehouse software selection.
  • Data warehouse system analysis and data governance design.
  • Design of data models and ETL/ELT process.
Check our offer

Data warehouse implementation

  • Data warehouse requirements engineering.
  • Data warehouse solution conceptualization and platform selection.
  • Data warehouse architecture design.
  • Data warehouse solution development.
  • Data warehouse quality assurance and launch.
  • Data warehouse support and evolution.
Request DWH implementation

ScienceSoft as a Trusted Data Warehousing Tech Partner:

When we first contacted ScienceSoft, we needed expert advice on the creation of the centralized analytical solution to achieve company-wide transparent analytics and reporting. 

The system created by ScienceSoft automates data integration from different sources, invoice generation, and provides visibility into the invoicing process. We have already engaged ScienceSoft in supporting the solution and would definitely consider ScienceSoft as an IT vendor in the future.

Heather Owen Nigl, Chief Financial Officer, Alta Resources

Talents Required to Design a Data Warehouse

Project manager

End-to-end data warehouse design project management:

  • Defines data warehouse design project scope, goals and deliverables.
  • Develops the data warehouse design project plan and communication approach.
  • Communicates data warehouse design project purpose and expectations to stakeholders.
  • Estimates and coordinates the efforts of data warehouse design project team members.
  • Ensures timelines and quality of the data warehouse design project deliverables within the set budget frames.

Business analyst

  • Analyzes the needs of key stakeholders and end users and translates the needs into the data warehouse requirements affecting design (e.g., the data warehouse solution should support operational analytics).
  • Describes the scope of the data warehouse system, its modules, and integrations with other software.

Solution architect

  • Designs a data warehouse architecture based on business and technology requirements.
  • Ensures the architectural requirements (availability, scalability, performance, reliability, etc.) are implemented in the data warehouse design.
  • Suggests a technology stack.

Data warehouse system analyst

  • Examines data sources and data analytics software (if any) to be integrated into the data warehouse solution.
  • Draws up a system requirements specification for creating data models, designing ETL/ELT processes, etc.
  • Defines data integrity and data cleansing rules, etc.

Data engineer

  • Designs a data model and its structures and draws up the data flows.
  • Designs ETL/ELT processes.

Sourcing Models

All in-house

Pros: The company has full control over the data warehouse design project.

Caution: Risk of project delays/failure due to the shortage of resources.

Outsourcing of technical resources

The company owns the data warehouse design project management while relying on outsourced resources to perform data warehouse platform selection, data warehouse solution architecture design and data modeling, etc.

Pros: No risk of the technical resources overprovisioning after the project completion.

Caution: The model requires constant cooperation of all team members. High requirements for in-house PM and BA competencies.

Complete outsourcing (in-house project sponsor, everything else is outsourced)

The company communicates its data warehouse-related needs to a vendor, who takes on detailed data warehouse requirements engineering, business planning, systems analysis, data warehouse design, etc.

Pros: No data warehouse project delays or failures due to resource unavailability.

Caution: Increased vendor dependency.

Get Your DWH Well-Designed!

ScienceSoft’s data warehouse team is ready to design a cost-effective and high-performing data warehouse solution within the set time and budget frames, applying data warehouse design best practices.

Data Warehouse Software We Recommend

Below, we list full-scale data warehousing platforms recognized as leaders of Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave reports that offer a comprehensive set of technologies to design scalable and high-performing cloud data warehouses.

Amazon Redshift

Best for: petabyte-scale analytics


  • Integration of all data types (structured, semi-structured, unstructured).
  • SQL data querying (including big data).
  • Automatic infrastructure provisioning, database backups and cluster health monitoring.
  • Federated query capability.
  • Deep integration with the AWS services (including S3, AWS Glue, Amazon EMR).
  • Integration with third-party tools (Power BI, Tableau, Informatica, Qlik, Talend Cloud).
  • Materialized views and ML-optimized performance.
  • End-to-end data encryption, granular access control and network isolation.
  • Separate billing for compute and storage resources.
  • On-demand pricing with no upfront costs.


  • On-demand pricing: $0.25/hour (dc2.large) - $13.04/hour (ra3.16xlarge).
  • Reserved instance pricing can save up to 75% over the on-demand option (in a 3-year term).
  • Data storage (RA3 node types): $0.024/GB/month.

Azure Synapse Analytics

Best for: advanced data management


  • SQL querying of structured, semi-structured, unstructured data, including big data.
  • Support for T-SQL, Python, Scala, Spark SQL, and .Net.
  • Native integration with Azure services, including Apache Spark, Power BI, Azure ML, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Cosmos DB, etc.
  • Integration with third-party BI services (Tableau, SAS, Qlik, etc.).
  • Speeding up queries with result-set caching and workload isolation.
  • Automatic restore points and backups.
  • Always-on data encryption, dynamic data masking and fine-grained access control.
  • Separate billing for storage and compute resources.
  • Cost optimization with the pay-as-you-go/reserved capacity pricing models.


  • Compute on-demand pricing: $1.20/hour (DW100c) - $360/hour (DW30000c).
  • Compute reserved instance pricing can save up to 65% over the on-demand option (in a 3-year term).
  • Data storage: $122.88/TB/month.

Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse

Best for: hybrid DWH


  • Deployment flexibility (Oracle public cloud (shared/dedicated infrastructure) or a customer’s data center).
  • Integration of all data types (structured, semi-structured, unstructured).
  • Automated data warehouse provisioning, scaling, tuning, and securing.
  • Native integration with Oracle Analytics Desktop.
  • Connectivity to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Object Storage, Azure Blob Storage, Amazon S3.
  • Connection with custom applications and third-party products via SQL*Net, JDBC, ODBC.
  • Always-on data encryption, multifactor authentication, data classification and discovery.
  • Independent scaling of storage and compute resources.


  • Compute: $1.3441/CPU/hour.
  • Data storage: $118.40/TB/month (in the public cloud).

Get all the information you need to choose an optimal data warehouse technology for your project in our free guide.

Choose Optimal Techs to Design a Reliable DWH

We are ready to assist you with selecting the right data warehouse technology stack to design a scalable and effective data warehouse solution to address your short-and long-term data storage and processing needs and reduce data warehouse implementation and maintenance costs.

Data Warehouse Design Cost

Designing a 10GB data warehouse solution, which involves data transformation and data cleansing processes, may cost from $40,000 depending on the initial data quality, data transformation complexity, etc.

Among the major data warehouse design cost drivers are:

  • Number of data sources (ERP, CRM, SCM, etc.), data disparity across different sources (e.g., the difference in the data structure, format), data source complexity.
  • Data volume to be processed and stored.
  • Source data quality (low-quality data requires sophisticated data cleansing procedures).
  • Required data security level.
  • Data warehouse velocity, scalability, and fault tolerance requirements.

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, TX, US. Since 2005, we’ve been providing d serata warehousing services, including data warehouse consulting, to help our customers build robust analytics with scalable and effective data warehouse solutions designed in accordance with their particular business needs. Being ISO 27001-certified, we guarantee cooperation with us does not pose any risks to our customers' data security.