We've all been taking our shifts at the demo booths at OpenWorld, and talking to current or future (?) customers, and one question that's come up a number of times is:
"Can we use OWB as a standalone data quality product for data profiling, data quality and data auditing without replacing our current ETL processing with Informatica/DataStage/hand-coded PL/SQL/what have you?"
The answer (as usual) is "Of course you can."
OWB's initial data profiling is basically unobtrusive, extracting data from your sources into a temporary schema where the actual profiling work is done. And OWB's data auditors can test data periodically in your sources and targets even if those are loaded by some other tool.
You can even use OWB to cleanse your dirty data in place, either in your staging area before loading your warehouse or in the ODS or master data itself. We do have customers who license the OWB DQ option for these kinds of scenarios, even when they already have other solutions for the ETL component.
Of course, you will get the maximum benefit from OWB DQ if you use the inline data quality capabilities to handle dirty data during ETL. But you can start introducing OWB DQ without doing a "big bang"-type re-implementation of your ETL in OWB.
OWB, including the data quality capabilities, is installed with any Oracle 11g database, and the standalone 10gR2 install is available on OTN as well to be installed alongside older Oracle databases. And while you do have to license the DQ option to really use it in production, of course, the surest way to know if data quality will add value is to evaluate it. You never know what's in your data until you look. Try a cursory data profiling effort on a subset of your data, just to see whether there's anything in there you aren't expecting.
Reminder: I'll be speaking on using OWB in DW and MDM-type scenarios Thursday at 9AM at Oracle OpenWorld. And my talk will contain tips and tricks on how to ease OWB into the DQ role with minimum disruption to your existing solution. OpenWorld attendees, please come to the talk or stop by the demogrounds booths for OWB to find out more.