In today’s increasingly fractured data environment, data is dispersed across multiple on-premise and cloud environments. In such scenarios, it is unreasonable to believe that all of an organization’s data will be stored in a single repository. With this now being a commonly accepted reality, advanced data management architectures such as data fabric have emerged.
Understanding Data Fabric
A data fabric is a distributed data management architecture that serves as an integrated layer of unified, secure data access and delivery mechanisms. When I first heard the term “data fabric,” it didn’t quite connect with what I understood it was attempting to describe. It seemed like yet another buzzword, created solely for marketing purposes. However, as I considered the different definitions of the word “fabric,” it seemed to perfectly describe this architectural pattern. In one sense, “fabric” can mean “cloth or other material produced by knitting,”. In another, “fabric” can mean “the essential structure of anything.” Both definitions can be used to understand data fabric and its role in driving digital transformation.
Consider the first definition of “fabric” as a piece of cloth produced by knitting. Now, think of a multicolored piece of fabric with intricate designs, from which one may make a beautiful dress. Consider also the various reels of thread of different colors that would have to have been stitched together to create that fabric. Metaphorically, the individual reels of thread are like the disparate sources of data throughout an organization. Reels of thread can be stitched together to make a beautiful fabric. Similarly, disparate sources of data throughout an organization can be integrated and brought together. This helps in revealing meaningful insights into a company’s business operations and prospects for growth.
Now let’s consider the second definition of “fabric” as the essential structure of something. A data fabric serves as the central means of integrating, managing, and delivering data to enable data-driven business transformation. It also serves as an essential structure for businesses that rely on data to transform their business processes and to identify opportunities for business growth.
An Essential Ingredient for Digital Transformation
Today’s data environments are becoming increasingly heterogeneous and complex. In turn, business leaders are increasingly challenged to leverage that data for maximum value. Companies that don’t have a complete view of their data are seeing only a portion of the picture and are hearing only some of the story that that data tells about their business. As a result, they risk missing out on opportunities for increasing revenue, lowering costs, and enhancing business value.
Data fabric is essential for powering digital transformation because it enables organizations to seamlessly weave together disparate sources of data and deliver integrated views. These views help with business intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics, and other methodologies that drive business innovation.