There’s a belief that cloud computing breaks down silos inside enterprises. Yes, the use of cloud and DevOps breaks down organizational silos between different teams but it only solves part of the problem. The bigger problem is silos between data sources. Data silos, as I would like to refer the problem, is the biggest bottlenecks enterprises face as they try to modernize their IT infrastructure. As I advocate the Modern Enterprise Model, many people ask me what problems they’ll face if they embrace it. Today I’ll do a quick post to address this question at a more conceptual level, without getting into the details.
In traditional enterprises, data is often housed in inefficient legacy data stores. Most organizations don’t know what they’ve lost because their data is fragmented across the organization. This has to change with the advent of newer technologies like mobile and sensors and which collect and handle massive amounts of data. Successful business need to break down the data silos and make data accessible to all the applications and stakeholders (often a requirement for real time contextual services).
Some organizations try to solve this problem by hard coding the access to data stores. This simple approach inefficiently breaks down silos and brings lock-in with it. Lock-in makes applications less portable, a key metric for future proofing IT. This approach also impedes organizational agility because hard coding data store access is time consuming and makes IT more complex, incurring technical debt.
Data Virtualization to the rescue
A much better approach to solving this problem is abstraction through data virtualization. It is a powerful tool, well suited for the loose coupling approach prescribed by the Modern Enterprise Model. Data virtualization helps applications retrieve and manipulate data without needing to know technical details about each data store. when implemented, organizational data can be easily accessed using a simple REST API.
Data Virtualization (or an abstracted Database as a Service) plugs into the Modern Enterprise Platform as a higher-order layer, offering the following advantages:
- Better business decisions due to organization wide accessibility of all data
- Higher organizational agility
- Loosely coupled services making future proofing easier
- Lower cost
As you plot your IT modernization strategy, it’s important to continuously break down data silos. People get seduced by the promise of powerful hardware and proprietary technologies but they lose in the end, with incremental gains and limited options to evolve IT caused by lock-in. Open source Data Virtualization tools help IT break data silos down at a lower cost while future proofing their organization for emerging technologies.