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Article

Roadmap for Data Virtualization

How data virtualization vendors will meet tomorrow’s information management challenges

It is clear that information management is becoming more difficult.

Business users today are far more demanding as competition and cost-cutting drive IT requirements, and information savvy business staff members deploy more "do-it-yourself" capabilities such as those described in Data Virtualization at Pfizer: A Case Study.

Information overload due to exponential volume growth and omnipresent delivery on our desktops, phones and tablets, is something we all feel at a personal level.

Further, the IT environment keeps getting more complex as add new big data sources, such as Hadoop; new use cases, such as predictive analytics; new styles of deployment, such as cloud computing, and more.

The Importance of a Data Virtualization Product Roadmap
In last month's Virtualization Journal article Data Virtualization Adoption Propelled by Significant Business Benefits, I highlighted key data virtualization technology capabilities that organizations were adopting to meet these challenges.

This article and How to Evaluate a Data Virtualization Platform provide useful guidance when selecting from several data virtualization vendor solutions as different vendors have taken different approaches to these challenges.

Further, the latter article also urged readers to consider not only functional capabilities, but also domain expertise and complementary services that each vendor can provide.  Examples of these can be found in Data Virtualization Best Practices and It's Here! The First Book on Data Virtualization.

In this article, I add one more criteria for consideration - the data virtualization vendor's product roadmap.  To make this important topic tangible, I will use the roadmap one of the leading data virtualization vendors, Composite Software.

Composite Software's Roadmap
At Composite Software, the roadmap for relevant and successful product evolution is driven by collaboration with innovative customers, consideration of key industry trends and the creativity of the engineering organization.

Composite's ever-advancing technology road map spans five critical dimensions:

  • Wider Access
  • Deeper Optimizations
  • Broader Deployment
  • Easier to Use
  • Better Governance

Let's consider why each dimension is important and how the Composite Data Virtualization Platform will grow to meet these expanding requirements.

Wider Access Keeps Data Virtualization Relevant
Technology developments at both the consumer and data source levels occur at a stunning pace.  Consider the past few years.  Tablet applications arrived from nowhere, while cloud applications became entrenched.  REST services bypassed SOAP.  Databases transformed into appliances.  And NoSQL and other big data stores have become standard.

While the list of source and consumer integration options is already long and diverse, expanding it will continue as a critical and growing component of Composite Software's data virtualization product line.  On the source side, access to software-as-a-service offerings will expand rapidly as these cloud computing solutions grow in popularity. On the delivery side, mobile applications will most likely set the integration agenda.

Deeper Optimizations Needed to Meet Volume Demands
According to IBM's 2011 CIO survey, business intelligence and analytics are CIO's top priority. To work, these applications require data.  For users, the more data, the better. And don't make the wait.

From its origin in the same Stanford research lab where Google's search algorithms were created, Composite Software's unique query optimization algorithms, caching, and a myriad of other advanced techniques have pushed the data virtualization performance frontier.  Pressing this intellectual property (IP) advantage will become even more critical as users execute ever larger and more complex queries.

Broader Deployment Requires Larger Scale Systems
Patterns of data virtualization deployment are evolving rapidly. Five years ago, most new Composite Software customers purchased its data virtualization platform to integrate data at the project level.  Last year, half of them purchased us to serve as the enterprise-scale data layer from the start, with over 60 percent of the earlier buyers now on the same journey.  With many organizations already supporting thousands of users, this trend will continue with user counts rising to the tens of thousands on a global basis.

Data virtualization's ultimate deployment architecture is a low-latency, globally distributed data fabric, operating 24x365, with full source and consumer location transparency that spans both on-premise and cloud.  Operating at this scale will significantly impact to the Composite Software's roadmap for its development, run-time and management environments.

Expanding User Base Drives Ease-of-Use Agenda
To date, most data virtualization users have been skilled developers and administrators.  This is reflected in the user tools provided by today's data virtualization vendors.  As data virtualization deployments expand, the range of business and IT staff using this technology becomes larger and more diverse.  Enabling these new communities to learn data virtualization quickly, and then use it productively, is critical to data virtualization's expansion.

To ensure this happens, Composite Software's data virtualization roadmap implements two strategies.  The first is to continue pushing the bounds of automation to eliminate work wherever possible.  The second is to continue to provide more powerful and intuitive tools to maximize user productivity for the work that remains.

Better Governance for Consistency, Compliance and Control
As data virtualization deployments evolve from projects to layers to global data fabrics, the need for greater data governance expands as well.  Control over data access, assurance of data quality, sharing of common specification and compliance with standards and regulations are but a few examples of governance requirements.

The Composite Software data virtualization roadmap includes capabilities that expand internal visibility over and support of governance practices and policies.  Closer alignment with adjacent technologies and processes will simplify governance as well.

Conclusion
Just as business and technology continuously evolves, so too will the scope and impact of data virtualization adoption and offerings.  The offerings that best meet expanding access, optimization, deployment, ease-of-use, and governance requirements, along with the organizations that adopt them, will thrive.

Enabled by a solid roadmap, this will be an exhilarating and rewarding journey.

More Stories By Robert Eve

Robert Eve is the EVP of Marketing at Composite Software, the data virtualization gold standard and co-author of Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility. Bob's experience includes executive level roles at leading enterprise software companies such as Mercury Interactive, PeopleSoft, and Oracle. Bob holds a Masters of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Berkeley.