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Article

Data Virtualization Q&A: What’s It All About

Covering nearly every angle on data virtualization including use cases, business benefits, and technology

"What's it all about, Alfie?" is the first line in the Burt Bacharach sixties classic, Alfie.

This lyric came to mind as I reflected back on the over sixty articles I have written on data virtualization over the past few years.

These cover nearly every angle on data virtualization including use cases, business benefits, technology, financial justification and more.  Yet, with all this abundance, perhaps readers would value one article that answers the call, "What's it all about?"

What Is Data Virtualization?
Simply put, data virtualization is an agile data integration method that simplifies information access.

Unlike data consolidation via data warehouses and ETL, or data replication via ESBs and FTP, data virtualization queries data from diverse sources on demand without requiring extra copies.

Compared to other integration approaches, data virtualization's streamlined approach fulfills business information needs faster, using far fewer resources.

Why Use Data Virtualization?
What would it mean to your business if your business users could go to one place to get all the information they want, the way they want it, any time they want it?

And if the information wasn't there, they could easily get it in just a few days.

The impact would be huge!  Profits would rise.  Risks would lessen.  And your people would be energized to do even more.

Is this even possible?

Yes it is possible.  In fact it is reality today at Northern Trust,  Pfizer, Qualcomm, NYSE Euronext and many more -- all of which have used data virtualization to significantly improve business performance while saving millions per year.  You can see what I mean by revisting Data Virtualization at Northern Trust: A Case Study and Data Virtualization at Pfizer: A Case Study

With data virtualization, you too can simplify your information access and achieve similar, even award-winning, business results.

What Are the Benefits of Data Virtualization?
With data virtualization, you benefit in several important ways.

Who Uses Data Virtualization?
Data virtualization positively impacts both your business and IT organizations.

  • Business Leaders - Data virtualization dramatically simplifies information access - unleashing your people to deliver unprecedented results.
  • Information Consumers - From spreadsheet user to data scientist, data virtualization's easy-to-use business views provide the information you need, the way you need it, so you can manage and improve your business.
  • IT Leaders - Data virtualization's agile integration approach lets you be more responsive to business needs. And you can fulfill these needs with fewer resources.
  • Architects - Data virtualization adds data integration flexibility so you can better support requirements today and tomorrow.
  • Integration Developers - Easy to learn and highly productive to use, data virtualization lets you deliver more value faster.

How Does Data Virtualization Work?
Business views form the core of any data virtualization implementation. Data virtualization's business views provide the information your information consumers require, in a rationalized form they can easily understand and use. These views shield your business users from IT's complexity.

Your IT staff builds these business views using data virtualization's rich data analysis, design and development tools. Then when your information consumers run a report or refresh a dashboard, data virtualization's high-performance query engine accesses the data sources and delivers the exact information requested.

To ensure your data virtualization deployments are secure, reliable and scalable, data virtualization provides a range of management, monitoring, security and governance functions.

Proven data virtualization offerings such as the Composite Data Virtualization Platform provide all these capabilities in a complete and unified solution.

To help you assess these offerings, you may want to read How to Evaluate a Data Virtualization Platform.

Where to Use Data Virtualization?
You can use data virtualization to enable information access for a diverse set of applications. The book I co-authored, Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility provides in-depth data virtualization case study examples from ten enterprises.

Additional applications are described in the following articles.

You can also use data virtualization to enable a range of industry-focused applications.

What is the Business Case for Data Virtualization?
Data virtualization has a compelling business case. The following drivers make data virtualization a "must have" for any large organization today.

  • Profit Growth - Data virtualization delivers the information your organization requires to increase revenue and reduce costs.
  • Risk Reduction - Data virtualization's up-to-the-minute business insights help you manage business risk and reduce compliance penalties. Plus data virtualization's rapid development and quick iterations lower your IT project risk.
  • Technology Optimization - Data virtualization improves utilization of existing server and storage investments. And with less storage required, hardware and governance savings are substantial.
  • Staff Productivity - Data virtualization's easy-to-use, high-productivity design and development environments improve your staff effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Time Acceleration - Your data virtualization projects are completed faster so business benefits are derived sooner. Lower project costs are an additional agility benefit.

How to Deploy Data Virtualization?
You can start your data virtualization adoption with specific projects that address immediate information needs. As project-level deployments increase, you can implement a data virtualization Integration Competency Center to share business views, best practices and other resources across projects.

You can also deploy data virtualization in a more centralized manner by aligning enterprise-wide efforts on business view semantics, reuse, architecture, scale and more in conjunction with your project deployments.

Read Integration Competency Centers: Gateway to Data Virtualization Adoption and What Is the "Best" Data Virtualization Best Practice?

Where Can You Learn More About Data Virtualization?
Beyond this channel, sources for data virtualization expertise and insight have grown significantly in recent years.

Data virtualization has a microsite DV Café that provides an Ipad-like way to stay abreast the latest data virtualization trends.  The DV Café is described more fully in IT Insights Brewing at the Data Virtualization Café.

The Data Virtualization Leadership Blog provides unique insights into diverse data virtualization topics ranging from high-end strategy and architecture to more detailed lessons learned, tips and techniques to implementation best practices.   Over 90 postings occurred last year alone.

In addition, you can join the DV (Data Virtualization) Café group on LinkedIn.  Focused exclusively on data virtualization, this community contributes discussions, polls and other insights and is linked directly to the DV Café microsite.

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.