Data Federation – Rapid Information Delivery in a Tough Economy?

Increasingly as I speak with my clients and CIOs I meet at various speaking engagements around UK and Europe, it is becoming clear that data federation can potentially offer rapid value to IT budget constrained companies that just can’t find the resources for another major database project. It may be that if you work in IT you are seeing increasing demand from business users for more reports requiring BI and non-BI information to help them manage their area of business responsibility in a more dynamic way.

In a recent paper by Jeremy Hope on Transforming Performance Management he states that “Most organizations want to adapt rapidly to changing events, but find that they are handicapped because of fixed budgets and poor forecasts. Adaptive organizations are able to respond more rapidly by switching resources dynamically to meet new threats and opportunities… “.

In order to do this there is no doubt that companies have to deliver information more rapidly irrespective of whether or not the data is in a BI system. What many cannot afford is going through a formal time consuming process of data warehouse change to bring in all information necessary. Data federation is capable of sourcing data from several places one of which would of course have to be a data warehouse or data mart. But with increasing amounts of valuable information residing outside BI systems (especially on the internet) it seems that data federation has a role to play as a delivery platform rather than having to change data models, ETL processes and creating another cube or relational data mart. My expectation is that over the coming year we will see an increase in demand for data federation software.

Several BI tools have been shipping data federation software as part of the BI tool bundle for some time to allow quick delivery of integrated information. Note that we are not talking about virtual data warehouses – on the contrary, data federation software rapidly integrates historical DW data with other data sources (operational data, internet feeds etc.) to deliver higher value information more rapidly. Therefore I see data federation software as complementary to BI systems. If you would like more information on data federation please see this article on how it works. There is also a white paper on Maximizing Business Value from Data Virtualization that talks about patterns and best practices to get the most out of this software. If you have already purchased data federation software or are considering it, let me know.


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