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What it Takes to Be a Leader in Data Virtualization!

If you haven’t already, I think you should read The Forrester Wave™: Data Virtualization, Q1 2012. For several reasons – one, to truly understand the space, and two, to understand the critical capabilities required to be a solution that solves real data integration problems.

At the very outset, let’s clearly define Data Virtualization. Simply put, Data Virtualization is foundational to Data Integration. It enables fast and direct access to the critical data and reports that the business needs and trusts. It is not to be confused with simple, traditional Data Federation. Instead, think of it as a superset which must complement existing data architectures to support BI agility, MDM and SOA.

I believe Forrester Research, Inc., said it very well in the report – “Data virtualization solutions provide a virtualized data services layer that integrates data from heterogeneous data sources and content in real-time, near real-time, or batch as needed to support a wide range of applications and processes.” So, it can’t be only about federating data.

Also, Data Virtualization is about a single, common data access layer that hides yet handles all the underlying complexity involved in integrating diverse and distributed data.  As Forrester Research, Inc., states in the report, “Data provided through the data services layer can be updated, transformed, and/or cleansed when (or before) applications access it.”

It is becoming apparent that customers are looking for a single environment that supports both data integration and data federation. I see a similar trend in the Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools. 2011, where Gartner talks about “the ability to switch seamlessly and transparently between delivery modes (bulk/batch vs. granular real-time vs. federation) with minimal rework.”

Based on what I have been hearing from customers, here are some critical capabilities for an advanced Data Virtualization solution:

  • A single environment for data integration and data federation
  • The ability to create virtual views with no data movement – but also easily reuse for batch
  • Early and iterative business (analyst) involvement
  • A pre-built library of rich ETL-like advanced data transformations
  • Support for integrated on-the-fly data profiling and data quality

I believe this is why Informatica got the highest scores for current offering and strategy in The Forrester Wave™: Data Virtualization, Q1 2012.

You can download your copy of the report here.

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