"Kitchen Drawer" Databases

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Almost everyone I know has a drawer in the kitchen that ends up overstuffed, containing rubber bands, homework, pencils, a non-matching butter-knife, some string, a dog leash and whatever else. And in a lot of companies you'll see the same thing, only in databases. This usually starts because someone wants data from another system, often one that requires a license to run a report feature on. So the firm exports the data and people feed at that trough instead.

This is all well and good until that fateful day when someone puts data back into this new "reporting" system. Suddenly the data is authoritative, and needs to be backed up, secured, controlled and so on. That's where the IT folks enter in, and now they have a new system to care and feed, one that was never designed properly to begin with.

So how do you "fix" this? Well, you don't. Sure, you can pull the data back, find the apps that are using it, assign permissions, perhaps even redesign it to fit the need, but the minute you do, another one (for the same reasons as before) will pop up. Another "kitchen drawer".

Is the right answer to keep playing "whack-a-mole" with this process, or is there another answer? Is there a way to deal with the chaos? I think so...

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