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Integration on the Edge: Data Explosion & Next-Gen Integration

Hollis Tibbetts

Integration as a foundation technology for BI and Analytics

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The value of business intelligence (BI) is well-proven. In any case, I'll leave it up to the slew of BI vendors to make that point. The topic of data analytics, a distinctly different science, is increasingly a front-and-center topic. Both of these require data, and this discussion is how integration acts as the foundation for enabling all the goodness that BI and data analytics bring to the enterprise.

In order for any organization to leverage the operational benefits of business intelligence/analytics, to comply with governmental or industry regulations, or simply to make well-informed decisions, there must be a solid data foundation. The point of all this is that your business intelligence/analytics platform is only as good as the data it operates on. And the data it operates on is typically brought to the BI/analytics platform through some sort of data integration layer. Simply speaking, it's critical to get the data integration "right" if you're embarking on a BI/analytics initiative. Truly critical path.

Data comes from many different places, is in many different formats - Cloud-based data, legacy data, data in spreadsheets, data in different databases, data inside of operational applications, data inside SaaS applications, etc. Just "getting at" data can be a challenge. Then the real fun begins, as data can also be famously difficult to reconcile - dealing with semantics and metadata issues, cleansing and remediating data, matching and merging data.

Although many organizations start off with a homegrown approach to data integration, which may initially appear to be cost effective, this quick and dirty approach rarely leads to a happy ending. Even if the homegrown solution is able to deliver the same "quality" of data, and even if there may appear to be initial savings (which may or may not be the case), these hard-coded solutions are ineffective at dealing with the two key issues facing any data integration scenario - increasing variety and increasing rate of change. As time progresses, the disadvantages of a hand-built solution increase dramatically.

It's not unusual for organizations to spend anywhere between hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars on BI/analytics implementations, and then use those tools to make decisions that impact the future of their organization. With all that at stake, a solid data integration platform isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

Today's commercially integration technologies are sufficient, if cumbersome, for solving the Business Intelligence equation - in some respects "yesterday's problem". Solving the problem of bringing massive amounts of data together - "big data", in all their myriad formats, in increasingly shrinking time windows is something to be addressed by the next generation of integration technologies.

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This blog offers an informed and informative perspective on the ongoing explosion of data and the technologies used to turn this data explosion into assets and competitive advantages.

Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis has established himself as a successful software marketing and technology expert. His various strategy, marketing and technology articles are read nearly 50,000 times a month. He is currently Director for Global Marketing Operations for Dell Software Group. Hollis has developed substantial expertise in middleware, SaaS, Cloud, data management and distributed application technologies, with over 20 years experience in marketing, technical, product management, product marketing and business development roles at leading companies in such as Pervasive, Aruna (acquired by Progress Software), Sybase (now SAP), webMethods (now Software AG), M7 Corporation (acquired by BEA/Oracle), OnDisplay (acquired by Vignette) and KIVA Software (acquired by Netscape). He has established himself as an industry expert, having authored a large number of technology white papers, as well as published media articles and book contributions. Hollis is a top-ranked author on Sys-Con media, is also published on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on creating great software: Software Marketing 2013. He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

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