Enterprise Data Access: “It’s Integration Jim, but not as we know it”
One of the best parts of my job is helping customers realise their goals of turning a theoretical proposed enterprise architecture with all its promise into a reality by deploying an Enterprise Data Access Layer. It’s a tenuous link, but my job is much like Captain Kirk’s, boldly going in the Enterprise where no-one has gone before.
Early in 2014 as a new recruit to the Denodo family, my first real engagement was with a major international financial market services provider. A consistent drive to improve the company’s service offering through the application of up-to-date technology had lead it to adopt an Enterprise Data Access Layer as a strategic component in its enterprise architecture.
While the company’s data resided in a single regional data centre, they found that their current approach to data integration was complex and needed to be simplified and rationalised. Greater integration agility was needed, on-going integration and maintenance costs had to be reduced, and decision making needed to be improved through more reuse of enterprise data and market analyses.
The goal of the Enterprise Data Access Layer was to reduce the costs and time to market for data delivery. It would do this by creating an abstracted virtual layer that accessed and combined data from multiple heterogeneous sources, using standard business logic. Information would be presented to consumers via unified reusable views in multiple formats to support a more agile delivery method minimising the need for physical integration.
What I found most pleasing about working with the company was their commitment to this vision of an Enterprise Data Access Layer based on Data Virtualization technology. In order to be successful the Enterprise Data Access Layer needed to prove it could overcome a number of key challenges, namely:
- How to reduce the duplication of data around the enterprise?
- How to improve the availability of high usage operational data? Operational data that was not readily nor currently available to other users or applications due to the risks associated with security, disruption to the operational systems and the sensitivity of market operations.
- How to facilitate the rationalisation of legacy data stores that were still needed in order to provide data to mission critical applications in the required legacy format?
In April 2014, the company embarked on a rigorous technical selection process to test the capabilities of a number of Data Virtualization technologies. Being given a comprehensive requirements specification, vendors had to implement eleven use cases and complete performance testing within a single week. During this time the technology had to demonstrate it could be used to implement the Enterprise Data Access Layer and overcome the challenges listed above.
A tall challenge to deliver in a week, but I’m pleased to say Denodo met the company’s expectations. Denodo showed how Data Virtualization could provide an enterprise view of the company’s data, reducing the need for data replication. Virtual views that could reused by many applications were demonstrated, providing data in real-time from operational systems and employ caching and throttling where necessary, to protect critical systems from any increased load. Denodo showed that its granular role-based security model integrated well with the company’s Active Directory to apply data security rules consistently across heterogeneous source systems, ensuring the right people had access to the right data, in the right time. All this in a week, which gave the company confidence that Data Virtualization could provide the agility of integration they were looking for.
By October 2014, the company had completed its vendor selection process, invested in Denodo Data Virtualization and were ready to start implementation of the first phase of the Enterprise Data Access Layer. By Christmas of the same year the company had successfully implemented its first four use cases in production and put in place Best Practice Data Virtualization Governance Processes to support the rollout of the Enterprise Data Access Layer to further applications.
With the first phase under their belt, demonstrating a clear return on investment and the capability to achieve their architectural goals, the company has been able to showcase the benefits of the Enterprise Data Access Layer. This is encouraging more and more projects onto the platform, and enabled a significant roadmap for adoption, making their future return even greater.
This is a good example of a strategic adoption of Data Virtualization to provide enterprise data, allowing the company in this instance to continue to “boldly go where they have never gone before“.