Top 10 Benefits of Virtualization
Virtualization has taken a firm hold at most enterprises these days, but the fact is we've only just begun to unleash the true potential of the technology.
Yesterday, I wrote about Forrester's prediction that data virtualization would catch on as a core part of the integration toolset in the next year and a half to two years. I've written about its implications for integration previously, but I decided to do a bit more reading and see what else I could turn up - and, of course, share anything of interest today.
Since adoption is still very low - around 20 percent - I thought it might be useful to cover the basics, or what journalist call the "Four W's": Who, What, When and Where. Today, let's look at the first two.
Who or, more precisely, whom will benefit from data virtualization? At first glance, this would seem like a purely IT-driven decision, a choice between technologies. But actually, data virtualization can benefit the business as much, perhaps more than, IT. In fact, one of its primary value propositions is that it makes data more readily and directly accessible to business users. It can also speed up business-focused projects, such as business intelligence or minor reports because the data can be accessed without waiting for IT to create and schedule an ETL run, hand code a point-to-point integration or set up a shiny new, expensive data mart. And, you don't have to sacrifice control or data quality to make the data available because it's not really leaving where it resides.
Earlier this year, I asked Pierre Fricke, Red Hat's director of SOA product line management, about the value of this approach for IT and the business. He said:
They will use the data they have where it is, rather than creating a new bunch of intermediary data marts or one-off, hardcoded data integrations into applications. They will be able to speed new projects to completion, make changes to existing deployments more swiftly, and govern the deployment more easily.
Peter Tran, the vice president of product marketing at Composite Software, also explored this topic in more detail if you'd like to read more about how it benefits IT and the business.
What is data virtualization? Put simply, it's a middleware solution that sits between all your data sources and your end users - often, by way of a business intelligence software. The data is pulled out of its silos into a virtual data warehouse, where the rules can change as needed, and then be delivered in services to the business folks. It does this without you integrating all that data in a data mart or using ETL.
"Data virtualization is about placing all your diverse physical database assets behind technology that provides a single logical interface to your data," writes data/SOA guru and Blue Mountain Labs CTO David Linthicum in a whitepaper sponsored by Informatica.
A few oddball facts that help define the "what" of data virtualization:
A recent article on TDWI's site explained it this way:
Instead of prescribing the federation of resources, DV proposes mixing and matching data integration technologies to construct a virtual view of an integrated enterprise. At a basic level, DV works with the integration technologies that you already have -- ETL, by and large -- and uses federation to knit everything together.
Tomorrow, I'll look at our next two W's: Where and When.