Many IT departments have virtualized their servers – and perhaps their storage, networks and desktops, too. Now, what about virtualizing their data?
Enterprises striving for the analytics-driven decision-making at the foundation of digital transformation are increasingly doing just that. Gartner projects that by late 2020, for example, 35% of enterprise organizations will have implemented data virtualization as an alternative to data integration.
Data virtualization isn’t a new concept, but it has acquired new relevance in the big data era as an alternative to arduous data integration processes, according to IT services company NTT Data. Organizations can use it to harmonize data scattered across the business and even across external web and social media sites, NTT Data says, without the infrastructure overhead and labor costs of creating expensive data warehouses or sprawling data lakes.
The problem has been that most enterprises have built, acquired or otherwise come to own dozens or even hundreds of information silos over the years, ranging from spreadsheets to operational databases. Each has its own structural framework, or schema, although some have no structure at all.
“Data silos are a serious business problem…because they prevent the collaboration necessary to ensure competitiveness,” wrote Forbes Technology Council member Walter Scott. “Companies need an operational data layer that is core to business processes and supports data sharing.”
No More Copies
Data virtualization creates a single logical view of multiple data sources without requiring the organization to “replicate data and try to homogenize it into a single source,” explained Mike Wronski, director of product marketing at Nutanix. He said that reduces the workload on the IT organization. Virtualization can also significantly reduce the need for extract/transform/load (ETL), a laborious process that requires the attention of expensive data scientists.