Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie, Andreas Grabner, Jim Kaskade, John Basso

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, API Journal, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

CIOs' Top Priority: Analytics and BI

How to Deal with the Data Integration Bottleneck

Whether as a driver for growth, a means to attract and retain customers, or a way to drive innovation and reduce costs, the business value of analytics and business intelligence has never been higher.

Gartner's Amplifying the Enterprise: The 2012 CIO Agenda as well as IBM's Global CIO Study 2011 confirm this point, with analytics and BI setting atop CIO's technology priorities in both reports.

Data Integration Is the Biggest Bottleneck
Providing analytics and BI solutions with the data required has always been difficult, with data integration long considered the biggest bottleneck in any analytics or BI project.

Complex data landscapes, diverse data types, new sources such as big data and the cloud are but a few of the well-known barriers.

For the past two decades, the default solution has been to first consolidate the data into a data warehouse, and then provide users with tools to analyze and report on this consolidated data.

However, data integration based on these traditional replication and consolidation approaches have numerous moving parts that must be synchronized. Doing this right extends lead times.

The Data Warehousing Institute confirms this lack of agility. Their recent study stated the average time needed to add a new data source to an existing BI application was 8.4 weeks in 2009, 7.4 weeks in 2010, and 7.8 weeks in 2011. And 33% of the organizations needed more than 3 months to add a new data source.

Data Virtualization Brings Agility to Analytics and BI
According to Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility, data virtualization significantly accelerates data integration agility. Key to this success has been data virtualization's ability to provide:

  • A more streamlined data integration approach
  • A more iterative development process
  • A more adaptable change management process

Using data virtualization as a complement to existing data integration approaches, the ten organizations profiled in the book cut analytics and BI project times in half or more.

This agility allowed the same teams to double their number of analytics and BI projects, significantly accelerating business benefits.

For more insights on data virtualization and business agility, check out my earlier articles on this topic.

Simplify to Overcome Historical IT Complexity

Data virtualization's simplified information access and faster time-to-solution is especially useful as an enabler for  more agile analytics and BI

Is Data Virtualization the Fast Path to BI Agility? describes how the architectures of most business intelligence systems are based on a complex chain of data stores starting with production databases, data staging areas, a data warehouse, dependent data marts, and personal data stores.   Simply maintaining this complexity is overwhelming IT today.

These classic BI architectures served business well for the last twenty years. However, considering the need for more agility, they have some disadvantages:

  • Duplication of data
  • Non-shared meta data specifications
  • Limited flexibility
  • Decrease of data quality
  • Limited support for operational reporting:
  • Limited support for reporting on unstructured and external data"

From a different point of view, SOA World's Zettabytes of Data and Beyond describes the challenges of force-fitting development methods that were appropriate for earlier times when less data complexity was the norm.

In addition, the proliferation of fit-for-purpose data stores including data warehouse appliances, Hadoop-based file systems, and a range of No-SQL data stores are breaking the hegemony of the traditional data warehouse as the "best" solution to the enterprise-level data integration problem.   The business and IT impact of these new approaches can be explored in the Virtualization Magazine article NoSQL and Data Virtualization - Soon to Be Best Friends.

Self-Service Analytics and BI are Important Too!
Responding to constantly changing business demands for analytics and BI is a daunting effort.

Mergers and acquisitions and evolving supply chains require new comparisons and aggregations. The explosion of social media drives demand for new customer insights. Mobile computing changes form factors. And self-service BI puts users in the driver's seat.

Business Taking Charge of Analytics and BI

In true Darwinian fashion, the business side of most organizations is now taking greater responsibility for fulfilling its own information needs rather than depending solely on already-burdened IT resources.

For example, in a 2011 survey of over 625 business and IT professionals entitled Self-Service Business Intelligence: TDWI Best Practices Report, @TDWI July 2011,The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) identified the following top five factors driving businesses toward self-service business intelligence:

  • Constantly changing business needs (65%)
  • IT's inability to satisfy new requests in a timely manner (57%)
  • The need to be a more analytics-driven organization (54%)
  • Slow and untimely access to information (47%)
  • Business user dissatisfaction with IT-delivered BI capabilities (34%)

In the same survey report, authors Claudia Imhoff and Colin White suggest that IT's focus shifts toward making it easier for business users "to access the growing number of dispersed data sources that exist in most organizations."

Examples Imhoff and White cite include:

  • providing friendlier business views of source data
  • improving on-demand access to data across multiple data sources
  • enabling data discovery and search functions
  • supporting access to other types of data, such as unstructured documents; and more.

Data Virtualization to the Self-Service Rescue

In the TDWI survey, 60% of respondents rated business views of source data as "very important," and 44% said on-demand access to multiple data sources using data federation technologies was "very important."

According to Imhoff and White, "Data virtualization and associated data federation technologies enable BI/DW builders to build shared business views of multiple data sources so that the users do not have to be concerned about the physical location or structure of the data.

These views are sometimes known as virtual business views because, from an application perspective, the data appears to be consolidated in a single logical data store. In fact, it may be managed in multiple physical data structures on several different servers.

Data virtualization platforms such as the Composite Data Virtualization Platform support access to different types of data sources, including relational databases, non-relational systems, application package databases, flat files, Web data feeds, and Web services.

To Achieve Self-Service BI, Consider Using Data Virtualization provides additional insights on about how data virtualization enables self-service analytics and BI.

More Stories By Robert Eve

Robert Eve is the EVP of Marketing at Composite Software, the data virtualization gold standard and co-author of Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility. Bob's experience includes executive level roles at leading enterprise software companies such as Mercury Interactive, PeopleSoft, and Oracle. Bob holds a Masters of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for s...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...