Is Data Virtualization the Holy Grail
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Anyone working in business intelligence and analytics must count themselves lucky. And I’m feeling lucky too.

We were here when Tableau and Qlik set a seismic market shift in motion, from reliance on IT to business user independence, creating the wave of what was to become the disruption of modern BI.

Now we are past the tipping point of a more-than-11-year transition from reporting platforms to modern BI and analytics platforms, where data science can really make the difference.

For the past few months, I have been continuously repeating that data virtualization is the Holy Grail for every data architect. No duplication of data, no conflicts, no ETL code. A miracle.

After some projects in which I have had the opportunity to test this vision, I’m seriously convinced that we are close to a complete disruption from the traditional way of thinking. Why build new data warehouses or vertical data marts when we can simply access information from heterogeneous data sources, leaving information blocks in their original locations and joining them virtually?

Even from a project management point-of-view, data virtualization enables quick checks with business users and effective validation points. It means fewer errors and less wasting of time and cost.

Data virtualization is a cultural change. That is to say, it has organizational aspects in addition to technological aspects. So, if I can’t see a single technical reason for not leveraging data virtualization, there may be some organizational circumstances in which we must be careful in proposing and adopting this technology.

I think that data virtualization is perfectly suited to an agile way-of-thinking and implementation approach. Many customers say they are agile, yet they are still looking for a traditional requirements/development/test/deploy cycle because their business users are not ready to work in an agile way.

Customers ask for more analysis and hypothesis testing, but this can be very simply addressed by the logical layer of virtual data.

So, yes, data virtualization really is the Holy Grail. And just like the original Holy Grail from Arthurian literature, all that data virtualization needs now are some brave knights in pursuit of their dreams.

This blog was penned by Massimo Pedrini, Head of the Business Intelligence Division at Alten Italy. Alten Italy is a proud supporter of Denodo DataFest.

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