There is a common saying in entrepreneurial circles that goes, “During a gold rush, sell shovels.” The origin of this saying dates back to the California Gold Rush of the mid 1800s, in which thousands of gold prospectors across the new nation traveled far and wide, risking it all for a chance to discover gold, strike it rich, and improve their fortunes. Of course, those who struck it rich were few and far in between, as the prospects of digging through acres and acres of rock and mud to discover an abundance of this rare mineral was, at best, a long shot. However, there were enough notable successes to instill hope within prospectors that they would be the next big success story, and that, after all, is the entrepreneurial dream.
The story of the California Gold Rush is often half-told, however. What has gotten less attention and glamor throughout the course of history, yet serving as the backbone and the very foundation of the Gold Rush, are the businesses that empowered, enabled, supported, and served the prospectors as they hitched their wagons to the dream of finding gold. Businesses that sold shovels, pickaxes, pots, pans, and even the very blue jeans worn by the prospectors have gotten much less attention, yet were essential to enabling the prospectors to pursue their dreams. In fact, you’re probably familiar with the name Levi Strauss, the founder of Levi’s jeans. He came to prominence during the Gold Rush by selling blue jeans to prospectors as they journeyed out into the mines digging for gold. These “shovel sellers,” as they have come to be called, provided tools and enabling infrastructure that empowered the prospectors as they dug deep in muck and mud in search of gold.
The Data Gold Rush
Today, we find ourselves in a Gold Rush of a different kind. Instead of searching through acres of mud and rock in search of tiny bits of gold, in these days of the Data Gold Rush, we find ourselves sifting, sorting, and searching through petabytes of different types of data in search of meaningful insights and information that can revolutionize our businesses. Big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and all such data-dependent digital transformation solutions enable businesses to process massive amounts of data and gain meaningful actionable insights that can open the door to a world of new business opportunities.
Companies that leverage these technologies, hoping to revolutionize their businesses, are synonymous with the gold prospectors who hitched their fortunes to discovering a valuable commodity amongst an abundance of otherwise meaningless junk. Buried deep within the petabytes of data that businesses are accumulating in variety and volume at historic levels, there is undiscovered gold in the form of meaningful insights that can lead to undiscovered opportunities capable of revolutionizing the prospects for a business. However, with disparate sets of data of so many different types and formats, scattered throughout various on-premise and cloud data sources, today’s data prospectors are in need of “shovels” in the form of tools, technologies, and solutions that will facilitate the process of discovering insightful gold within their reams of disparate datasets. Enter data virtualization, a key enabling technology that allows data professionals to sift, search, and easily integrate disparate sets of data throughout an organization, facilitating the process of discovering golden insights buried deep within that organization’s data assets.
Data virtualization is an enterprise data management technology that enables the real-time integration of siloed data sets without the need to replicate the data into a single source. In the course of day-to-day business operations, most organizations today accumulate data in abundance in a variety of data sources that are geographically dispersed in different datacenters and cloud environments. From relational databases to spreadsheets to delimited files to cloud applications to streaming data, it is commonplace for most businesses today to have data assets distributed across multiple sources inside and outside of their organizations. This complicates their ability to process and analyze their data to gain the necessary insights that can lead to the discovery of golden new opportunities. Data virtualization enables organizations to build a semantic data model that consists of logical data entities that span multiple physical data sources. For example, an organization may have customer data within a relational database, spreadsheets, and SAAS applications. Data virtualization enables the creation of a logical customer entity that consists of data coming from multiple physical sources without having to replicate data to a single source. These logical entities can then be easily consumed by business intelligence and data analytics applications, simplifying the data gathering process that is essential for discovering golden insights buried deep within the data.
In today’s age of digital transformation, in which gaining insights from large amounts of disparate datasets is fundamental to the competitive capabilities of an organization, it is essential to have the right tools and technologies available to process that data in an efficient manner. The efficient processing of vast quantities of data throughout an organization is the fuel that powers key digital transformation solutions such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. These solutions enable the discovery of golden opportunities for a data-driven organization. By enabling organizations to easily integrate disparate sources of data without the need to take on time-consuming and resource-intensive data replication and migration processes, data virtualization is a vitally important technology that facilitates the process of unlocking the golden business value buried deep within vast amounts of disparate data.
The “Virtual” Shovel
Metaphorically speaking, data virtualization is the shovel that data-driven organizations need to dig for golden opportunities. But unlike a traditional shovel, which would assist in moving material from one location to another for consumption and usage, data virtualization is a “virtual ” shovel, which can deliver integrated consumption views of data while leaving the source data in its original location. Data virtualization is the shovel that organizations need in this age of digital transformation, the key tool that organizations need to reap the rewards of the Data Gold Rush.