Data Virtualization: Be the Driver, not the Mechanic
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The best technology acts without having to manage it, or worse, having to familiarize oneself with it more than it seems necessary.

In some industrial sectors, this has already happened. We simply consume electricity, without being forced to know the entire production cycle, from its generation to our homes.

In the automotive sector, there is the engineer who designs the car, the mechanic who will eventually need to repair it, and finally, the driver, who uses it to reach the places he wants to get to. The best car should be the one that best supports these roles, particularly the last two, by being a car designed in such a way that it is easily repairable and requires the least effort to drive.

In other sectors, change has been underway for some time, but is still a work in progress, such as in the automotive sector, where drivers can increasingly focus on driving, savoring the destination and enjoying the journey, trusting that the underlying technology will do what it was designed to do, intervening where needed and ensuring a safe and comfortable journey.

Data and the Driver

In the field of data, and the solutions that enable us to use data, the same rules apply: The objective is to realize when an adaptation, a configuration, or an integration is necessary, in that it enables data consumers to focus on their use of the data. The proposed technology should enable data consumers to easily understand the meaning of the data as well as its origin. It should represent the data in a clear way, independent of its native format, and it should allow data consumers to manipulate the data in an intuitive way.

The data consumer is like the driver and, as such, every data integration solution should be designed, first of all, to enable him or her to work in the most comfortable way, because the criteria with which he or she will evaluate such a solution are the same that we use when we buy a car. Most of us do not begin this process by opening the hood and inspecting the engine and wiring; we might first ask about fuel consumption, driving support, and safety systems, before we climb on board, assess its interior, and finally take it on a test drive to appreciate its quietness and performance.

Manufacturers need to take into account the different roles of the individuals who interact with their solutions, and not only in terms of the way they are developed but in the way they are spoken about and displayed, because their success is a complex alchemy between what they do and what they are perceived to do.

The ultimate judge of a data integration solution is the data consumer, just as the driver is for a car. This does not mean that the other roles are not important, but only that they are secondary to that of the user, without which any solution would have no reason to exist.

Data Driven Transformation

If we want to effectively support a data driven transformation, if we want to give substance to the innovative concept of data fabric, we must put ourselves in the data consumers’ shoes and design solutions so they are harmonious with their point of view. Technological excellence is always a differentiating element, but functional excellence and its effective usability are even more so. We’ve been talking about the customer experience for years, and now we should start talking about the data consumer experience as well, trying to make it as pleasant as possible.

This new way of seeing, putting oneself in the data consumer’s shoes, is what has animated – and still animates – the way Denodo interprets the concept of data virtualization and data integration, which are converging in the wider paradigm of logical data fabric. Technological excellence and extreme usability, then, must be taken together, because performance and usability are two sides of the same coin; a powerful but difficult-to-drive car is destined to oblivion. What animates Denodo is, to borrow from the automotive world the concept of autonomous driving, to offer a data management solution that not only hides complexity from data consumers, but also supports them in their activities, suggesting and proposing, in the light of what other data consumers have done, specific actions or particular data.

Finally, because the data consumer must be able to understand the data with the minimum effort, the Denodo Platform provides a representation of the data in a uniform language, independent of the native language of each individual data set, just as, in a car, the cockpit uses a single representation model, regardless of whether the temperature, pressure, or voltage must be kept under control. When talking about data, the cockpit of a car translates into a data catalog, which is designed to provide the same ease of reading and the same ergonomics. In a data catalog, data is displayed with the intention of making it easy to use, hiding those technical elements that, in the eyes of the data consumer, would be nothing more than distractions, because what matters is not the quantity of controls, but their necessity.

Are you ready to be the driver? Try it for yourself by doing your own Test Drive here. Whether you’re doing BI analytics or data science, or implementing a DaaS project, these test drives provide hands-on experience with the Denodo Platform in less than 2 hours, free of cost. If you are really serious about kicking the tires, we also offer a 30-day free trial of the Denodo Platform on the cloud marketplace of your choice.

Andrea Zinno