Even a Best-case Scenario Requires 60% Data Integration

The question that led to this blog posting is “how much data is moved between applications in a perfect portfolio”. A perfect application portfolio is one that has no functional overlaps and has been optimized to minimize the need for integration by ensuring that tightly-coupled functions are grouped in the same application.  The answer is 61%.

To derive the answer we need an analytical framework that allows us to model all the functions in a typical organization, including the information exchanges between them, and then derive the ideal application portfolio by performing an affinity analysis to identify logical groupings of tightly-coupled functions into a set of systems families.  Each function must be housed in one and only one system family and each information subject must created once and only once and then used by other functions that need the data. The BOST™ Framework from Informatica is just such a framework.

By using the reference model for a high-tech manufacturing company, I did some quick analysis on the create/use matrix of functions and information subjects and came up with the following data points:

  • 1,067 Information Subjects are created by 267 functions
  • There are 2,725 USE relationships which means each information subject is used on average by 2.6 other functions
  • Of the USE relationships, 1,057 exist within the reference systems families and 1,668 exist outside the systems families

This means that 61% of the Information USE relationships, and therefore 61% of information exchanges, are between systems families rather than within a system family.   Furthermore, since the reference systems family model is an “idealized” view of an application portfolio, 61% is the “best case” scenario for information integration between systems.  The real world has a much more fragmented, redundant and overlapping set of applications so the integration needs in reality are probably closer to 80% or more (just an educated guess).

Every IT professional knows that there is an inherent need for integration in every portfolio of applications.  But it may be a surprise to some that the percentage of information that needs to be shared and integrated, even in an idealized scenario, is this high. To learn more about what analysts are saying about BOST check out this Impact Report from 451 Research and this one Informatica Adds Enterprise Architecture to Improve Support for Business Transformation from the Enterprise Strategy Group.