Integrated Information for Stronger SOAs

It's not easy being digital. Even from a personal perspective, the range of digital devices I've accumulated and use over the past few years has grown exponentially. From digital cameras to (multiple) wireless phones to PDAs to (again, multiple) laptops to on-line services such as gmail, I have my fingerprints all over the digital world.

While the results have been great - I'm able to manage, communicate and produce more effectively than I ever have before - I spend a much larger portion of my time managing and integrating data, even at this personal level. Instead of an old-fashioned and single address book, I have multiple digital address books. I have email directories duplicated (and perhaps out-of-synch) across multiple systems. Try as I might, it's simply not simple to keep information integrated and in synch.

Unfortunately, over that same period of time, most organizations have been experiencing the same type of problems, but on a much larger scale.

It's clear that information integration challenges have grown over the past few years. From one perspective, enterprises are simply dealing with more data. And that means more challenges when you're talking about data quality and data consistency. But that's not the only change that most organizations' data has undergone.

Consider the range of other factors confronting organizations. For example, in most organizations, data is not only more distributed now, but it's also more heterogeneous, from legacy systems, to ERP systems to stand alone applications running on different database platforms. Also, a significant portion of many organization's data may be replicated-across geographies or across stove-piped systems. For years, organizations have been using ETL, EAI, replication and other technologies to move-and often duplicate-data throughout an organization. While this might get the job done in the short term, data duplication can create tremendous consistency and quality issues.

On top of these issues, organizations also have to deal with on-going changes to data structures. As business needs change, the data required, collected, and managed changes. However, managing these changes, across distributed, heterogeneous data stores, can be cumbersome and difficult, especially if there's no way to analyze the impact of such changes. A simple change to one field or column in a single database can have an enormous ripple effect across downstream applications that might rely on those database tables.

In addition, as much as all this structured data has grown, so has the amount of unstructured data. In fact, many estimates by research firms highlight the predominance of unstructured data, showing that in many cases, organizations currently have more unstructured data than structured data that they're managing.

The end result of all these challenges points to the fact that now, more than ever, organizations need to address information integration and data consistency issues.

As I've mentioned in previous columns, these problems with data consistency become significantly worse as organizations move toward implanting SOA.

That's why I believe that now is an extremely good time for most organizations to re-evaluate their information management strategies. Over time, it will become simply impossible for most organizations to continue managing data as inconsistently and stove-piped as they have. Regardless of whether an organization is move toward an SOA strategy or not, information requirements and business needs have simply become too important for organizations to not manage information better.

So, what do today's organizations need in order to get the right information to the right person at the right time? That's a great question. In my next column, we'll take a closer look some of the requirements for better information management, and how they play into an SOA strategy.

About the Author

David Kelly - With twenty years at the cutting edge of enterprise infrastructure, David A. Kelly is ebizQ's Community Manager for Optimizing Business/IT Management. This category includes IT governance, SOA governance,and compliance, risk management, ITIL, business service management,registries and more.

As Community Manager, David will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on all the important news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise governance. David will also be responsible for publishing press releases, taking briefings, and overseeing vendor submitted feature articles to run on ebizQ. In addition, each week, David will compile the week's most important news and views in a newsletter emailed out to ebizQ's ever-growing Governance community. David Kelly is ideally suited to be ebizQ's Governing the Infrastructure Community Manager as he has been involved with application development, project management, and product development for over twenty years. As a technology and business analyst, David has been researching, writing and speaking on governance-related topics for over a decade.

David is an expert in Web services, application development, and enterprise infrastructures. As the former Senior VP of Analyst Services at Hurwitz Group, he has extensive experience in translating the implications of new application development, deployment, and management technologies into practical recommendations for enterprise customers. He's written articles for Computerworld, Software Magazine, the New York Times, and other publications, and spoken at conferences such as Comdex, Software Development, and Internet World. With expertise ranging from application development to enterprise management to integration/B2B services to IP networking and VPNs, Kelly can help companies profit from the diversity of a changing technology landscape.

More by David A. Kelly

About ebizQ

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