Starring Sakila: Data Warehousing Explained, Illustrated, and Subtitled

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MySQL is increasingly being adopted for Business Intelligence (BI) and data warehousing (DWH) purposes. Although the technology as such is far from new, there is still quite noticeable confusion and misunderstanding among MySQL Developers and DBAs surrounding key BI/DWH concepts such as denormalization, dimensional modeling, ETL, and OLAP. Even if the concepts are clear, it is still not clear what the purpose is of a datawarehouse, and what problems it can solve.

The Sakila database is a simple, publicly available sample database of a DVD rental business, distributed by Sun (formerly MySQL AB). It is quite popular for illustrating traditional database schema design issues and SQL queries.

The sakila database makes for a great mini-tutorial on how to design, create, load and use a data warehouse. In 45 minutes, attendees can witness exactly how this is done, and how the result differs from the original sakila schema.

The following outline explains the structure of this talk in detail

  • The BI problem: Creating information out of data. Brief introduction explaining information needs of managers and up.
  • How data warehousing helps to solve the BI problem.
  • Anatomy of a data warehouse. Introduction to dimensional modeling, differences with operational database design.
  • Major physical implementations of data warehouses: star schemas v.s. snowflakes
  • A star is born: dimensional models for rentals and payments from the sakila database
  • Filling the data warehouse: extraction, transformation and loading
  • The result: making managers happy with dynamic pivot tables, slice and dice and drilldown.
Photo of Roland Bouman

Roland Bouman

XCDSQL Solutions / Strukton Rail

I’m a Web Application and Business Intelligence developer and I authored two books about the Pentaho Open Source Business Intelligence stack: “Pentaho Solutions” (ISBN 978-0470484326) and "Pentaho Kettle Solutions (ISBN 978-0470635179). I’m an active member of the MySQL and Pentaho communities. In the past, I worked for Inter Access, MySQL AB, Sun Microsystems. I currently work for Pentaho.

Photo of Matt Casters

Matt Casters


I have been an independent BI consultant for many years and implemented numerous data warehouses and BI solutions for large companies. For the last 6 years I have been very busy writing an ETL tool called Kettle. This tool was open sourced in December 2005 and acquired by Pentaho Open Source BI early in 2006. As such I’m now Chief Data Integration for Pentaho mainly doing lead development for Kettle a.k.a. Pentaho Data Integration.

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Sheeri K. Cabral
07/29/2009 6:48am PDT

This video is now much easier to see—it’s on YouTube:

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Sheeri K. Cabral
07/06/2009 9:32am PDT

People have reported that the “play” link loads for 15-20 minutes before actually streaming the content; however, the download link works just fine. I apologize for any inconvenience.

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Roland Bouman
07/02/2009 9:11pm PDT

Hi all! Anybody interested in getting the slides and the materials (SQL script, PDI transformations/jobs, and Mondrian OLAP cube and analysis view) please go to and grab them from there.

These materials are free for personal use. You may not distribute them though – point people to instead. You may also not use these materials to create your own training materials without prior consent from me. Shoot me an email at if you do want to use these materials for non-personal use, and we’ll see what we can do.

kind regards,


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Sheeri K. Cabral
06/25/2009 12:35am PDT

Play the video directly in your browser at or download it at

Co-presented By:

O'Reilly Media MySQL/Sun Microsystems
  • Kickfire
  • Virident
  • Infobright, Inc
  • JasperSoft
  • Intel
  • Advanced Micro Devices
  • BIRT Exchange by Actuate
  • Calpont
  • Canonical
  • Continuent
  • Dolphin Interconnect Solutions
  • Facebook
  • HiT Software, Inc.
  • IBM
  • iDashboards
  • Oracle
  • Pentaho
  • R1Soft
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • SQLstream
  • Ticketmaster
  • Zmanda, Inc.
  • Linux Journal

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