From Virtual Data Marts to Data Dexterity

How Data Virtualization Drives Secure, Agile, Enterprise BI

If you believe that the convergence of Big Data and Big Analysis is a ‘half full’ opportunity, chances are you’re familiar with and engaged in the implementation of data virtualization to accelerate the move to data democracy in your organization.  New tools extend the franchise for secure, well-governed data provisioning – offering the ease of self-service and/or dramatic gains in IT productivity.  By eliminating many of the costs and risks associated with traditional data integration methods, virtual data marts break the bottleneck between data management and data analysis.

If, on the other hand, you’re concerned that the convergence is a ‘half empty’ challenge that calls for measured response, chances are you’ve well-founded requirements for data security and access, information governance, and regulatory compliance.  The same tools that can accelerate opportunity offer new ways to secure and govern information, while dramatically easing traditional backlogs in data provisioning.  For you, virtual data marts can be the path to secure, enterprise-wide data discovery.

Back to the Future

First point – the concept of virtual data marts isn’t new.  Claudia Imhoff, in a 2003 article in DM Review, outlined the advantages of logical views of data warehoused data in ‘virtual data marts’.  The advances in hardware and software she foreshadowed now enable the immediate visibility, ‘one-stop shopping’, and reduced cost-risk profile she predicted.

Less than five years later, Gartner’s Ted Friedman reported – under the rubric of data federation - on the accelerating adoption of logical, virtual datamarts as part of an information-centric enterprise architecture.[1]  More recently (2014), Friedman and Eric Thoo reported[2] that one-fifth of surveyed organization had planned or deployed federated or virtualized views of data – driven by analytic and expanded data access use cases. 

Second point – virtual data marts have become a preferred method for integrating disparate data sources (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured information) across use cases ranging from a 360-degree view (e.g. customer, business, employee, product) to self-service platforms that support mobile and social applications.  As such, they’ve practically eliminated the traditional expense of data integration in application prototyping, development, and deployment.

Final point – those new tools, the ones that could fill the half-full and half-empty opportunities and challenges you face – can be added seamlessly into your existing security, governance, and technology ‘stacks’.  The proven benefits of data virtualization (federated data access) can support either IT- or business-user-centric deployments, scale enterprise-wide, and connect with leading analytic and visualization applications.

Immediate data visibility, Do-It-Yourself simplicity and scalability, and support for data sources (current and future) that span every view of your business - the future is now.

Virtualization Underwrites Dexterity; Dexterity Drives Democratization

At Attivio, we’ve incorporated virtual data marts as the core deliverable in our new Semantic Data Catalog offering. By focusing on the data supply chain that connects analysts to the data they need, we’re accelerating the conversion of information into insight.  Achieving that result requires precisely the kind of efficiency, simplicity, and manageability that logical, virtual views of data deliver.

Using virtualization, the entire enterprise becomes more agile and responsive to information – achieving the kind of data dexterity that distinguishes market leaders from followers. When the data-provisioning bottleneck between IT and analysts is broken, dexterity can drive true data democratization.


[1] Data Federation Adoption Increases as Part of Complete Data Integration Strategy, Ted Friedman, Gartner, October 2007

[2] Harness Data Federation/Virtualization as Part of Your Enterprise's Comprehensive Data Integration Strategy, Eric Thoo and Ted Friedman, Gartner, June 2014

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